Airbnb’s new corporate logo, which — as we reported yesterday — a lot of people think looks like a vagina, was the talk of a dinner party last night at the Verdi Club in San Francisco. Attendees included Airbnb’s host community, employees, and a reporter from Re/code, who talked to one of the company’s co-founders about the response to the logo. Turns out, he’s not amused.
“It’s just like: Go ahead, laugh all you want, guys,” CTO Nathan Blecharczyk told Re/code. “We wouldn’t want to design a logo that caters to the lowest common denominator. This was a yearlong undertaking for dozens of people, it’s something meaningful, and no one pauses to really understand that.”
Blecharczyk went on to compare Airbnb’s new logo to Nike’s swoosh: “The symbol is not supposed to be a symbol, it’s supposed to be something with meaning. The bélo is a vehicle for rich, deep, emotional, human stories.” Bélo is what Airbnb is calling the logo and it's meant to represent “belonging,” according to its company blog.
It sounds like everyone at the dinner party missed the memo, even with a neon sign that flashed the word “belonging” in the room, as Re/code reports that much of the conversation centered around the logo — from “what were they thinking?” talk to genitalia jokes. Here are the highlights:
“I wonder if there was maybe a sense of insular thinking there,” said Jeff Snell, referring to Airbnb’s corporate culture. “It’s about these high-minded ideals, and when you believe in it, you see it as the ideals, you don’t see a scrotum or boobs, you see togetherness and belonging.”
“It looks like my 4-year-old daughter’s version of a female body parts,” said Jay, a man doing a Rorschach test with the logo. A woman named Sue replied: “No, no. It looks like buns.”
“You heard about the woman 3-D printing her vagina? People are just so focused on vaginas already, so that’s probably it. No one could have predicted this,” said Christy, who works in marketing.
“It’s a little weird, the rebrand. I think it’s pretty obvious what it looks like,” said Angelo Maddox, an Airbnb host.
Obvious to most, but apparently Airbnb still doesn’t see it.