How AirBnb lives an authentic brand story.

Being authentic (an overused word but nevertheless using it here) is harder than it sounds. A company can’t just tell a story for story’s sake- it has to BE a real story.   Manufactured, made-up storytelling and false promises will eventually disengage customers. They are smart and they will figure you out. Be truthful and sincere with stories that align with the your brand, and you will have (at least one) path to success.

Take AirBnB. The customers themselves are a big part of the brand story if not THE brand story. The experiences that define the brand reside mostly between the host and guest: check-in, stay, experiences, departure, writing ratings and thank you notes.

Airbnb wisely and trustingly lets its customers tell their stories, instead of messaging what they think people want to hear. To prove it, check out “Stories from the Airbnb Community

Another example of empowering the customer to define the brand is even more literal: they offered a tool that users create their own version of the Airbnb logo.  These initiatives are substantive and real and show that the customers are at the center of the brand.

Using real stories and real imagery shows that AirBnb hosts and guests are not just normal, but more interesting.  The partnership of host and guest make a more unique travel experience than booking a hotel. Authenticity also elicits trust – for people new to the site and experience, seeing and interacting with real people provides the assurance they need to dive in and try it.