August 11, 2014

Lack of Protection Can Lead to Unwanted Consequences

First the Airbnb logo; now the University of Dayton logo. It seems that this summer has been the summer of creative misfires in the rebranding sphere. I'd like to say these rebrands weren't distasteful and tragic, but then I would be lying to you, and we Trademarkologists are all about honesty. Aside from looking like the logo of many others, which a quick Google search would have revealed, the new Airbnb logo looks like a body part. You be the judge of which one:

Airbnb Logo

Apparently Airbnb did not see this coming. Before the release of the new mark, Airbnb described the mark as being "...playful, unpretentious, and looks good in big and small scales, in digital and print formats, and as a three-dimensional object." After the backlash following the release of the logo, Airbnb CTO Nathan Blecharczyk was quoted as saying, "It's just like: Go ahead, laugh all you want, guys. We wouldn't want to design a logo that caters to the lowest common denominator." Regardless of Airbnb's intentions, there's really no denying that the new logo does in fact look like a body part. There's even a Tumbler showing creative uses of the logo. Airbnb isn't the only one to release a somewhat scandalous logo this summer. The University of Dayton's rebrand looks like VD instead of UD. See for yourself:

Dayton Flyers

Dayton Flyer alumni agree. Our colleague and Flyer alum Stephen Weyer was not pleased with the rebrand and said, "That clearly says VD, and also reminds me of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Adidas logo. I'm not one to be confused, but I see the resemblance." He might be onto something:

Phila Flyers

One UD alum and blogger stated, "I'm sure the jokes about this new logo won't stop- 'We are V-D, Clap, Clap.'"

The obvious question here is how Airbnb and UD didn't see what the rest of the world finds pretty apparent. However, this isn't the first time a group of creative, intelligent marketers and brand owners have introduced bizarre and scandalous logos. Business Insider compiled a list of what it feels are the 15 worst logo fails, with the suggestive London 2012 logo topping the list. Had the Airbnb and UD logos been out at the time the list was put together, I'm sure they'd claim some top spots.

So, how do you avoid these backfires when rebranding? We Trademarkologists have some words of wisdom. First, listen to your young associates and get their impressions; they are closest to the customer base and might see the red flags more easily. Additionally, run focus groups so the general public can raise issues on a small scale first. Finally, try to avoid having tunnel-vision when rebranding. Look at your new design from all angles to try to avoid missing the obvious.

We'll leave you today on a high note. Here's the YouTube video Airbnb released to introduce its new logo "Belo," what they claim to be a symbol of belonging:

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