Vacation rental service Airbnb unveiled a new logo last week that generated a wave of criticism for its design. Some likened it to a triangular paperclip or, even more crudely, to certain female anatomy. But the company still stands by the logo, which it calls Bélo and says represents belonging. “It’s a symbol for people who want to welcome into their home new experiences, new cultures, and new conversations,” Airbnb said on its blog. Well, maybe if you squint.
As to be expected, branding experts aren’t exactly thrilled by the design. Their verdict: Why futz with something that seemed to work just fine.
“My issue is that the original logo was pretty good to begin with,” said Rick Barrack, chief creative officer at CBX, a brand agency.
Airbnb’s prior logo – the company’s name in light blue lettering – was simple and something that more start-ups should do, he said. It communicated the brand and stuck in the mind of its users. Despite backlash, Barrack said that Airbnb should now stay the course. “The outrage will go away very quickly,” he predicted.
Against the backdrop of Airbnb’s logo Fortune is exploring other examples of corporate branding that – at least according to popular opinion – missed the mark. Here are a few examples.