LESSONS FROM AIRBNB
5 insights from Airbnb’s art department
The latest chapter of Industrial Orientation Programme (IOP) had M.A.D. School student sturning up at AirBnB’s doorsteps on the evening of December 19th.
Exemplary hosts themselves, the Art department facilitated an insightful sharing on how is design an important business proposition in their company. “How does design lead people to trust the brand?” If we can summarise their formula for success, it would probably be how their attention paid to the smallest details pay off.
Here are 5 of our key take aways from the friendly hosts this week:
Going beyond to stand by a value
It is one thing to have heard of Simon Sinek’s famous line: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, and quite the other to live it out as a company’s philosophy.
Belong Anywhere. How do you live it as a way of life? Rooting your organisation in values allows for greater flexibility in your products and services.
For example, AirBnb doesn't have to confine services to renting fixed, tangible spaces. A short but insightful day tour with a local can foster an authentic sense of belonging as well.
Spaces can be designed to belong, relationships can be designed to belong, experiences can be designed to belong. Another great example is Night At from Airbnb, whereby guests get to spend the night in places others can only dream of.
Be it Dracula’s castle or Denmark’s Lego theme park, the element of fun isevident to truly enable anyone to belong anywhere.
Be at the right place, right time
Context is often the most overlooked detail of any marketing, advertising or design brief. How does your moment fit into the time frame, in that specific set up?
An essential but challenging task, it is always good to plan according to the flowof events as the year passesby. As your creations and ideas are interconnected with other influencesand cultures, hardly anything lives in isolation today.
Hence, it is important to pay attention to howyour creations link and flow down to the call for action. AirBnB’s advertisement, #weaccept, received great feedback during the Super Bowl.
That was in conjunction with the political landscape at the point of time, with the public’s focus on Trump’s administration and ideals on acceptance. From a more technical viewpoint, it is always good to have a good mix of landscape/ human/ moment/ close-up scenes and shots to weave in an appropriate story in the given context.
Like an appetising salad bowl, the dressing, toppings and ingredients make up the eventual spoonful of delight.
Celebrate and lift people up
There can never be a stronger emphasison people, because they are the ones who make up your brand.
Numerous brands have been focusing on building intimacy with their customers, and this is even more important for a sharing platform like AirBnB.
Choosing to show a place through the eyes of the local community instead of the tourist’s, authenticity is the key trait that drawspeople in.
The art of celebrating people requires a common touch point.
How can you help this individual to share their passion? What makes them feel special, and what sets them apart?
After deciding on the angle, it is easier to approach and make your targeted audience feel special. Driving from this train of thought, AirBnB did a collaboration with the well-loved Kpop star, G-Dragon, in 2015.
5 lucky fans were chosen to visit his studio, and the star personally took part in designing their experience there.
Be aware of who and where you are
A well-known fact in marketing, a brand often has to be aware of who and where it stands.
As brands speak differently in different stages, it is crucial to be consistently engaged and conscious of the relationship dynamics between the brand and its consumers.
Branding is huge on people and culture, and shifts through strategies accordingly to the circumstance. In AirBnB’s case, they were aware of the different in brand exposure between differing demographics in places like California and China.
Therefore, the marketing strategies are vastly different. For China, AirBnB sees itself as a new entrant and started off with videos that introduce its brand name.
With the primary goal of simply letting its name stick on people’s minds, the video focused on the Chinese characters and isdramatised by the use of sound and fast-paced editing.
They also approached local designersand producers to create the marketing content, as these professionals bring in a unique understanding of their own country and cultural context. Being aware of where their branding stands, AirBnB was able to building on local expertise and ease into the market.
Use the past for the future
Because sometimes, growth can only be seen looking back. Leveraging on user insights and past data, a brand can successfully anticipate change and draft out the appropriate strategies according to the needs of the market.
For example, AirBnB’s #notyettrending project brings its global community to explore new locations.
Using past data to identify interestsand common points of why people love visiting a certain city or town, #notyettrending curates a series of new roads and new rivers for people to discover for themselves.
Conclusion: What makes AirBnB stands out?
All in all, AirBnB exudes confidence in knowing who their community is. Knowing what they like and where they dream of going, they strive to make the individual belong anywhere.
With an intentional focus on culture, both internally and externally, it is also particularly fascinating to note how people-centricthey are within their own organisation as well.
Aligning base principlesand core values, it enables the platform to scale from one country to another, bridging millions acrossthe global landscape to live like a local.