From as early as I can remember, brands have played a significant role in my life.
I can still clearly remember the tantrum I threw on my 12th birthday when my poor mum gave me Wrangler jeans instead of the Levi’s I so desperately wanted as my first-ever pair of non-hand-me-down, five-pocket blue jeans.
I don’t recall what influenced my preference for Levi’s so many years ago, but since then I have been acutely conscious of the brands I choose to wear, listen to, eat and drink, watch, share, use, and promote as I strive to make the most of this precious gift of life.
I love brands and the powerful role they can play in helping to enhance the simplest of moments, improving so many aspects of an individual’s life, and even shaping the entire human race for the better.
My responsibility at Airbnb for building the world’s next global iconic SuperBrand has taken my passion and enthusiasm for brands to a whole new level. Through the work I do in collaboration with our founders, my team, and our partners, we will become as culturally impactful and ubiquitous as Coca-Cola was in the 1980s, Nike in the 1990s, and Apple in the 2000s. Airbnb will become the brand that defines this generation.
Now, this audacious goal will not be easily achieved. Like all companies, our resources are limited, and this goal requires that I continually prove to all our stakeholders the value of investing in brand. With that in mind I asked a small team, comprised of my own leadership team and our strategic planning partners at TBWA\Chiat\Day, to carry out a robust audit that provides greater insight and evidence of the multifaceted value of brand-building.
We set out to interrogate the hypothesis that investing in building an iconic brand is an effective driver of business growth and financial value. My passionate belief is that a healthy and iconic Airbnb brand will influence customer voice, drive loyalty, attract, retain, and motivate talent, help maximize the value of our partnerships, and lower the cost of financing. Each of these benefits plays a critical role in realizing Airbnb’s ambitions and addressing a number of key market dynamics that the business currently faces.
Having been through this exercise, I now feel more confident than ever in the power of a strong, iconic brand to help Airbnb thrive in the face of these challenges.
Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO, Airbnb
A compelling product allied with an iconic brand is a formidable force for growth but these partnerships are few and far between. The disconnect between the worlds of “business” and “brand” in terms of language and culture means a lot of companies are leaving value on the table. The intent here is to bridge the two worlds and find a common language and set of references. These “cliff notes” are just a taste of the full paper but I hope you find them a useful primer on the what, how and why of creating an iconic brand in the 21st century.
Neil Barrie, CSO, TBWA \ Chiat \ Day