Update: Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas has written to tell us, "In early 2014 both Airbnb and Automation Anywhere began use of new logos that, by coincidence, have similar designs. Airbnb and Automation Anywhere are working cooperatively to address this issue, and Automation Anywhere is in the process of transitioning to a new logo design that is not similar to the Airbnb logo." We will update the post as we learn more.
Unveiled today in San Francisco, the new Airbnb logo--or Belo, as the home rental service is calling it--looks like a heart bent out of a paper clip. Some people like it; others think it looks like genitals (male or female, no one's really sure). The one thing everyone should be able to agree on is that it looks an awful lot like logos that are already out there.
Twitter is awash this afternoon with spottings of the doppelgangers of the new Airbnb Belo:
To our eyes, the new Airbnb logo most closely resembles the logo of Automation Anywhere, an IT company focused on automation. In fact, the Airbnb Belo is almost indistinguishable from Automation Anywhere's logo, except for being pink and slightly more curvaceous. Is the similarity pure coincidence?
In Fast Company's story about the design of the Belo, Austin Carr reports that the new symbol was designed to abstract the shapes of a heart, a house, and a location pin, all while evoking the shape of the "A" in Airbnb. We have to wonder if, when Automation Anywhere commissioned its nearly identical logo, the spec was similar. After all, both companies start with the letter "A" and involve using tech to interact with remote locations. "Give us a logo that looks like an 'A' with a house and a location pin in it, stat!"
Something tells me Automation Anywhere got its logo at a fraction of the cost Airbnb paid. Which is good. Because the problem with the new Airbnb Belo isn't just that it looks like a bicycle seat combined with a Burn After Reading style masturbation device. It's that no matter how good and thoughtful your design process is, you still need to make sure other people haven't come up with your design first.
In his story about Belo, Carr reports that the Airbnb symbol was outsourced to the London-based DesignStudio. Before agreeing on the final design, the designers claim to have studied everything from the logos of the Red Cross, the Olympic Games, and even the Bat symbol.
Too bad they stopped there, when a Google Image Search would have turned up so many existing logos that the Airbnb Belo is inadvertently aping.