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2017年第一大突破性品牌是怎样炼成的:一个关于归属感的故事

财富中文网 2017年01月04日

本文摘自利·加拉格尔即将出版的新著《Airbnb的故事》,详尽揭示了这家公司如何寻觅其灵魂(有时带来痛苦的结果),如何加深客户联系的非凡经历。

Airbnb一直是“共享经济”的标志性成功之一。如同Uber一样,它是一个迅速渗透到消费者意识中的年轻品牌,目前估值已达300亿美元。许多人已经把Airbnb当作动词使用:“这个周末一起去迈阿密吧。我们打算在海滩边Airbnb一个住处!”)

在她即将出版的新书《Airbnb的故事:三个普通人如何颠覆一个行业,赚得亿万身家,并引发大量争议》(The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions … and Created Plenty of Controversy)中,《财富》杂志副主编利·加拉格尔(Leigh Gallagher)带领读者一起见证这家公司崛起的内幕。她描述了Airbnb是如何从一个以帮助预算节约型旅游者居住在他人的起居室,以及其他数不胜数,充满异国风情的选项(有人听说过树屋吗?)而著称的品牌,敏捷地扩展到一个为格温妮丝·帕特洛等名人提供超高端租房服务的品牌。

Airbnb has been one of the signature successes of the “sharing economy.” Along with Uber, it’s a young brand that has penetrated consumers’ consciousness—and rung up a $30 billion valuation—so quickly that many people already use it as a verb. (As in, “Let’s go to Miami for the weekend. We’ll Airbnb a place by the beach!”) In her upcoming book, The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions … and Created Plenty of Controversy, Leigh Gallagher takes readers inside the company’s rise. Gallagher, an assistant managing editor at Fortune, identifies how Airbnb astutely expanded its brand from one known for putting budget travelers in people’s living rooms to endless exotic options (tree houses, anyone?) to renting ultra-high-end gems to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow. The book explores Airbnb’s significant challenges along the way, from battles with regulators to racial discrimination and other unwelcome behavior on its platform, but also how, with 140 million “guest arrivals” since its launch in 2008, it has clearly struck a chord with consumers. In the following excerpt, Gallagher examines how cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky’s search for a mission for employees turned into a rebranding for the whole company, a revealing process that spotlights the interplay between what can be seen as a company’s soul and the way it engages with the outside world.

从对抗监管者,到种族歧视,再到其平台上其他一些不受欢迎的行为,本书阐述了Airbnb一路走来面临的种种挑战。但它也描述了Airbnb是如何引起消费者共鸣的——自2008年启动以来,Airbnb已吸引1.4亿“访客”。我们将看到,联合创始人兼CEO布瑞恩·切斯基为员工寻找使命的旅程最终重塑了整个公司的品牌。这一给人以启迪的过程,凸显了一家公司的灵魂和它与外部世界打交道的方式究竟是如何相互作用的。

2013年的某个时候,Airbnb开始考虑重新定位其整个使命和重心,以更好地阐述那些让其平台如此独特的元素。刚刚上任的全球社区主管道格拉斯·阿特金开始提出一系列问题:“Airbnb为什么存在?其目的是什么?它在世界上发挥什么作用?”正如阿特金所言,这些问题的答案将成为“引领整艘船前行的方向舵。”

Sometime in 2013, Airbnb started thinking about reorienting its entire mission and center of gravity to better articulate the elements that made using its platform so unique. Douglas Atkin, the company’s new global head of community, began by posing the questions, “Why does Airbnb exist? What’s its purpose? What’s its role in the world?” The answers to those questions, as Atkin puts it, would become “the rudder that guides the whole ship.”

一个让布莱恩·切斯基感到悲哀的事实是,“大规模生产和非个人旅行体验”已成为常态。一路走来,他说,“人们不再相互信任。”

阿特金是消费者和品牌关系方面的专家,著有《品牌崇拜》(The Culting of Brands)一书。他领衔的团队在全球各地采访了480名员工、客人和房东。他接二连三地听到许多客人表示,“他们最不想扮演的角色就是游客。”他们觉得,这是一个过于被动的身份。Airbnb的客户希望接触人和文化;他们想成为内部人。

一个想法开始浮现:“归属感”。到2014年年中,该公司已经决定围绕这个概念重新定位。Airbnb有了一个新的使命宣言:让世界各地的人们觉得他们可以“归属于任何地方”。

经过几个月的构思和改善,该公司发布了一个象征这项使命的新标识:一个名为“Bélo”,弯弯曲曲,非常可爱的形状。它是由刚刚从可口可乐跳槽至Airbnb的首席营销官乔纳森·米尔登霍尔命名的。米尔登霍尔还说服公司创始人将“归属于任何地方”从一个内部使命宣言扩展到公司的官方口号。

2014年7月,Airbnb推出这个新品牌,以及重新设计的移动应用和网站。切斯基在Airbnb官网发表了一篇洋溢着理性光辉的文章,对这个概念进行了一番解释:很久以前,城市曾经是乡村。但随着大规模生产和工业化的到来,这种个人感受被“大规模生产和非个人旅行体验”取代,一路走来,“人们不再相互信任。”

Atkin is an expert on the relationship between consumers and brands and the author of The Culting of Brands. He and his team interviewed 480 employees, guests, and hosts around the world. Again and again, he says, he heard guests saying that “the last thing they wanted to be is tourists.” That felt too passive to them. Airbnb customers wanted to engage with people and culture; they wanted to be insiders.

A single idea began to emerge: the notion of “belonging.” By mid-2014 the company had settled on a repositioning around this concept. Airbnb had a new mission statement: to make people around the world feel like they could “belong anywhere.”

The company had a new logo to symbolize this: a cute squiggly shape it called the “Bélo,” the result of months of conceiving and refining. It had been named by Airbnb’s chief marketing officer, Jonathan Mildenhall, who had recently joined from Coca-Cola KO -0.05% . Mildenhall also persuaded the founders to expand “Belong anywhere” from an internal mission statement to the company’s official tagline.

In July 2014, Airbnb introduced the rebrand, as well as a redesign of its mobile app and website. Chesky explained the concept in a cerebral, high-minded essay on Airbnb’s website: A long time ago, he wrote, cities used to be villages. But as mass production and industrialization came along, that personal feeling was replaced by “mass-produced and impersonal travel experiences,” and along the way, “people stopped trusting each other.”

联合创始人纳森·布莱恰切克目前担任Airbnb首席技术官。但多年来,他的角色已经拓展。他也是一位房东:在过去两年里,他的家共接待了178位客人。 

他写道,Airbnb代表着比旅行更大的东西;它将代表社区和关系,并借助技术的力量,将人们聚集在一起。在Airbnb,人们可以会见“普天之下渴望归属感的人。”经过仔细构思的新标识Bélo自身,像一颗心、一个位置别针,以及Airbnb中的“A”。它设计得非常简单,以便于任何人都可以绘画。事实上,该公司邀请人们绘制自己的标识版本。Airbnb宣称,它代表着4种事物:人、地方、爱和Airbnb。

说Airbnb充满理想主义,可能有点轻描淡写。说得委婉些,媒体持怀疑态度。科技博客TechCrunch声称“归属于任何地方”是一种“嬉皮士概念”,其他媒体则想知道,人们使用Airbnb服务,究竟是在追寻一种特别温暖,但也非常模糊的“归属感”,还是仅仅因为他们只是想找一个便宜且非常酷的安身之所。许多媒体对Bélo大加嘲讽——与其说是讽刺它代表的理想主义情怀,倒不如说是讽刺它的形状。他们说,Bélo看上去像是乳房,臀部,既像男性生殖器,又像女性生殖器。在24小时内,轻博客网站Tumblr策划并发布了各种充满性意味的解释。现已加入《纽约时报》的记者凯蒂·本纳发推称,“对于临时居所的描述,没有什么能够跟Airbnb选择的阴道-屁股-子宫新标识相提并论。”

我起初也满腹狐疑——不是怀疑这个标识,而是怀疑“归属感”概念。我认为这意味着与那位居住在你租赁的空间的人共度一段时光。在我为数不多的Airbnb使用经历中,我还没有遇见或者看到我的房东,也不想这样。最主要的原因是,我想省钱。

Airbnb, he wrote, would stand for something much bigger than travel; it would stand for community and relationships and using technology for the purpose of bringing people together. Airbnb would be the one place people could go to meet the “universal human yearning to belong.” The Bélo itself was carefully conceived to resemble a heart, a location pin, and the “A” in Airbnb. It was designed to be simple, so that anyone could draw it. Indeed, the company invited people to draw their own versions of the logo—which, it was announced, would stand for four things: people, places, love, and Airbnb.

To say Airbnb can be idealistic is an understatement. The media were skeptical, to put it mildly. TechCrunch called “Belong anywhere” a “hippy-dippy concept,” while others wondered whether it was really warm and fuzzy “belonging” that drove people to Airbnb or whether they just wanted a cheap and cool place to stay. Media outlets lampooned the Bélo, not for its idealism so much as its shape, which they said looked alternately like breasts, buttocks, and both male and female genitalia all at once. Within 24 hours the sexual interpretations of the logo had been curated and posted on a Tumblr blog. “Nothing says temporary home like the vagina-butt-uterus abstraction that Airbnb chose as its new logo,” tweeted reporter Katie Benner, now of the New York Times.

I, too, was skeptical—not of the logo, but of the “belonging” concept—at first. I thought it meant spending time with the person who lived in the space you rented. In the few times I had used Airbnb, I hadn’t met or seen my host and didn’t want to; I mainly wanted to save money.

2016年,切斯基在年度房东大会Airbnb Open上登台演讲。

但在Airbnb重塑品牌的背景下,这种“归属感”并不一定意味着,与你的房东一起喝茶,吃曲奇饼干。它有着更广泛的含义:它意味着走进你采用其他旅行方式可能看不到的社区,驻留在你通常无法驻留的地方,睡在其他人的空间,经历一段房东“款待”你的体验,无论你是否见过房东。有一次,我通过Airbnb在费城里滕豪斯广场附近一个破旧的步行街上预定了一个住处。我小心翼翼地推开房门。映入眼帘的是一套迷人的单间公寓:高耸的天花板;墙上摆满了书;舒适简约的装饰风格;一串闪烁的装饰灯悬挂在壁炉上。我喜欢“珍”布置的一切,从她的藏书,到她拍松和折叠的毛巾,再到她留给我的手写卡片。(珍和我似乎拥有同样的审美品味,但这正是我选择这套房间的原因所在。)

无论新闻界对Airbnb的品牌重塑有何看法,广大用户们似乎特别欣赏。在接下来的几个月中,超过8万人上网发布他们自己设计的标识。即使对于一些更大的品牌来说,这种消费者参与度也是可望不可即的。Airbnb甚至主动拥抱新标识引发的喧哗。作为“归属感”之旅的领路人,阿特金后来称之为“机会平等的生殖器”。

But “belonging” in the Airbnb-rebrand context didn’t have to be about having tea and cookies with the person whose place you’re staying in. It was much broader: It meant venturing into neighborhoods that you might not otherwise be able to see, staying in places you wouldn’t normally be able to, bunking in someone else’s space, and having an experience that person “hosted” for you, regardless of whether you ever laid eyes on him or her. When I booked a place through Airbnb in Philadelphia, I warily pushed open the door to an apartment in a run-down walk-up in Rittenhouse Square to find an inviting studio with high ceilings; walls lined with books; cozy, minimalist decor; and a string of twinkly lights hanging over the fireplace. I liked everything about “Jen’s” place, from her book collection to the towels she’d fluffed and folded, to the handwritten card she left for me. (It helped that Jen and I had the same aesthetic taste, but then that’s precisely why I picked her listing.)

Whatever the press thought of the rebrand, Airbnb’s users seemed to get it. Over the next few months, more than 80,000 people went online and designed their own versions of the logo, a rate of consumer engagement that would be considered off the charts by larger brands. Airbnb even embraced the logo hubbub. Atkin, who spearheaded the journey to “belonging,” later referred to it as “equal-opportunity genitalia.”

客人们在年度房东大会上参加另一场活动。

作为一家公司,除员工和客人之外,Airbnb还需要招募第三类支持者:出租房屋和公寓的人。仅仅让房东签约并提供他们的空间是不够的;这家公司必须怂恿他们竭力提供一种良好的体验。Airbnb的房源数量之多,甚至连全球最大的连锁酒店也望尘莫及,但它既不拥有或控制任何库存,也无法控制任何一位房东的行为。

从创业伊始,几位创始人就知道这一点。他们当时很难说服人们发布各自的居住空间。但直到2012年底,当切斯基读到一期《康奈尔酒店季刊》(这本学术期刊的出版方是著名的康奈尔大学酒店管理学院)时,他才开始更加认真地思考该公司提供的体验。他判定,Airbnb亟需经历一种更深刻的变革——从一家科技公司转变为一家酒店公司。

不久之后,切斯基读完了一本书:《登峰造极:运用马斯洛理论提振士气》(Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow)。其作者是生活乐趣精品连锁酒店(Joie de Vivre)创始人奇普·康利。在他于2010年售出多数股权之前,这家连锁酒店已扩展到38家。

As a company, Airbnb had a third constituency it needed to enlist: not just employees and guests, but the people who rent out their houses and apartments. It wasn’t enough just to get the hosts to sign on and to offer their spaces; the company had to get them to work hard to offer a good experience. The number of Airbnb listings dwarfs the quantity of rooms in even the largest hotel chains, but it neither owns nor controls any of the inventory, nor the behavior of any of the people offering it.

The founders knew this from the earliest days, when persuading people to list their spaces was a struggle. But it wasn’t until late 2012, when Chesky read an issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, the journal of the esteemed Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, that he started thinking more seriously about the experience the company was offering. He decided they needed to transform Airbnb more deeply from a tech company into a hospitality company.

Shortly after that, Chesky read Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow. The book’s author was Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre boutique-hotel chain, which grew to 38 boutique properties before he sold a majority stake in 2010.

2013年,影星詹姆斯·弗兰科在好莱坞策划了一场Airbnb营销活动。

康利俨然已成为一位大师。在《登峰造极》一书中,他阐释了在911恐怖袭击事件和互联网泡沫破裂之后,他是如何通过将心理学家亚伯拉罕·马斯洛的需求层次理论应用到企业和个人转型,最终拯救了自己的公司。马斯洛认为,为了充分实现人类的潜能,他们的身体和心理需求必须首先获得满足。在需求层次金字塔上,食物和水处于最底部,自我实现位居最高层。在康利身上,切斯基既看到了精明的商业头脑和高超的酒店经营能力,或许也觉察到了一种令他惺惺相惜的理想主义情怀。康利表示,他希望每位客人三天后离开时,能成为一个“更好的自己。”

切斯基竭力游说康利,最终在2013年秋季将其招致麾下,出任Airbnb公司酒店和战略全球主管。康利尤为迷恋推动酒店业民主化这一挑战。他认为,酒店业已经“被公司化了”,他希望“把它带回根源。”

Conley had become something of a guru. In Peak, he explained how he had saved his company in the wake of 9/11 and the dotcom bust by applying the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—the pyramid of physical and psychological needs humans must have met in order to achieve their full potential, with food and water at the bottom and self-actualization at the top—to corporate and individual transformation. Chesky saw in Conley both business and hotel savvy and perhaps a kindred idealism. (Conley talked about wanting his guests to check out three days later as a “better version of themselves.”)

Chesky lobbied Conley and eventually recruited him into a full-time position, in the fall of 2013, as global head of hospitality and strategy. Conley was fascinated by the challenge of democratizing hospitality, which had become “corporatized.” He wanted to “take it back to its roots.”

2014年,旧金山一位抗议者指控房东驱逐租户,以促进Airbnb租赁。

康利先后赶赴25个城市发表演讲,并提供一些诀窍,以帮助公寓住户与他们的客栈老板沟通。他建立了一个中央化的酒店教育机制,制定了一系列标准,并创建了一个博客、一个时事通讯和一个在线社区中心。房东们可以在那里学习和分享最佳实践。他开发了一个辅导计划,让经验丰富的房东向新人传授待客之道。

如今在Airbnb说明书上详细阐述的指令和建议包括:力求在24小时内回复预订申请。接待客人前,请尽量确保他们的旅行计划符合你的“待客风格”;比如,如果有人正在寻找一位亲力亲为的房东,而你是个注重隐私的人,这或许就不是最好的匹配。经常沟通,并提供详细指示。确定非常清晰的“房规”——如果你希望旅行者脱鞋或者不吸烟的话。彻底清洁每个房间,特别是浴室和厨房。床上用品和毛巾应该是崭新的。想超越这些基本要求?不妨考虑为房间布置一些鲜花,或者在客人办理入住手续时提供一些款待的礼物,比如一杯葡萄酒或一个花篮。他说,房东要尽力做好这些事情,即使他或她在客人逗留期间并不在家。

2014年11月,在Airbnb启动“归属于任何地方”使命四个月之后,切斯基再一次与阿特金详谈。这位CEO表示他很喜欢“归属于任何地方”,并且相信这将是该公司未来100年的使命。但他仍然有一些迫切的问题:这句话真正意味着什么?你如何衡量它?它是如何发生的?

Conley traveled to 25 cities, giving talks and offering tips to help apartment dwellers channel their inner innkeeper. He set up a centralized hospitality-education effort, created a set of standards, and started a blog, a newsletter, and an online community center where hosts could learn and share best practices. He developed a mentoring program wherein experienced hosts could teach new ones good hospitality.

Among the mandates and suggestions now articulated in Airbnb’s materials: Aim to respond to booking queries within 24 hours. Before accepting guests, try to make sure their idea for their trip matches your “hosting style”; for example, if someone is looking for a hands-on host and you’re private, it may not be the best match. Communicate often and provide detailed directions. Establish any “house rules” (if you’d like travelers to take their shoes off or not smoke) very clearly. Clean every room thoroughly, especially the bathroom and kitchen. Bedding and towels should be fresh. Want to go beyond the basics? Consider sprucing up the room with fresh flowers or providing a treat upon check-in, like a glass of wine or a welcome basket. Do these things, he says, even if you’re not present during the stay.

In November 2014, four months after Airbnb launched “Belong anywhere” as its mission, Chesky went back to Atkin. He said he loved “Belong anywhere,” and he truly felt it would be the company’s mission for the next 100 years. But he still had some pressing questions: What does the phrase actually mean? How do you measure it? How does it happen?

2014年,歌手史诺普·道格在西南偏南音乐节上宣传Airbnb。

切斯基派遣阿特金踏上另一趟访问焦点小组的旅程,一探究竟。与另外300位房东和客人谈话之后,他获得了这些问题的答案:“归属于任何地方”并不是一个单一时刻;它是人们在借助Airbnb旅行时经历的一种转变。这家公司已经将其使命编纂为“归属于任何地方的转变之旅。”其内涵是:当旅行者离开家时,他们感到孤独。到达Airbnb租屋时,他们觉得自己被房东接受,并受到悉心照顾。他们随即产生一种如同在家中般的安全感。

Chesky dispatched Atkin on another focus-group odyssey to figure it out. When Atkin came back, after talking to another 300 hosts and guests, he had an answer: Belonging anywhere wasn’t a single moment; it was a transformation people experienced when they traveled on Airbnb. The company has codified this as the “belong anywhere transformation journey.” It goes like this: When travelers leave their homes, they feel alone. They reach their Airbnb, and they feel accepted and taken care of by their host. They then feel safe to be the same kind of person they are when they’re at home.

Airbnb联合创始人乔·格比亚现任公司首席产品官。当初正是他在读了道格拉斯·阿特金的著作之后,率先与其取得联系的。

当这种情况发生时,他们觉得更加自由,成为一个更好更完整的自己,他们的旅程是完整的。这是Airbnb的行话。尽管在我们这些局外者看来,这些话听起来可能有些做作,但许多人表示,这正是助推Airbnb起飞的重要原因。对于这种愿景,最真诚的Airbnb信徒有着一种宗教般的崇拜。(在他的焦点小组探访之旅中,阿特金在雅典碰到的一位房东在其卧室墙壁上绘制着“归属于任何地方”字样。有位韩国房东甚至将她的名字改为一个意为“欢迎来我家”的韩语词汇。)但是,无论对于普通旅行者而言,这是不是一趟“转变之旅”,Airbnb已经获得了巨大的成功。成就这家公司的,绝不仅仅是价格低廉,以及该平台能够帮助旅行者很容易走进奇异空间这一事实。Airbnb触及到更大、更深刻的东西。

在这个相互分离的世界上,展示一些人性或者接受某种人性表达的机会,已经变得非常罕见。这是另一个使得Airbnb(和其他短期租赁服务)不同于所谓“共享经济”其他方面的元素。就其核心而言,Airbnb涉及最亲密的人际交往:访问其他人的家、睡在他们的床上,使用他们的浴室。

这恰恰是如此多人极度反感Airbnb,从来不想使用这种服务的原因。但也正是这一点,让Airbnb显得如此独特。当你在TaskRabbit雇佣一个人帮你修复一个裂缝,或者当你坐进一辆配备空调的黑色轿车,静静地前往机场时,这种“共享”并不存在。更重要的是,这正是Airbnb不同于Uber、Lyft和其他任何共享经济同行的地方。有一天,与格雷洛克风险投资公司营销合伙人丽莎·施赖伯聊天时,她用极其精炼的语言总结了这种区别:“Uber是交易。Airbnb是人性。”富中文网)

作者:Leigh Gallagher

译者:Kevin

When that happens, they feel like freer, better, more complete versions of themselves, and their journey is complete. This is Airbnb-speak, and while it may sound hokey to the rest of us, many would say this is a huge reason Airbnb took off. There is a cultlike devotion among Airbnb’s truest believers, who embrace this vision. (During his focus-group travels exploring the meaning of Airbnb, Atkin encountered one host in Athens who had painted “Belong anywhere” on his bedroom wall, and another in Korea who had changed her name to a Korean phrase meaning “welcome to my house.”) But whether or not it is a “transformation journey” for the average traveler, Airbnb has enjoyed success that is about something more than just low prices and easy access to quirky spaces. It touches on something bigger and deeper.

The opportunity to show some humanity or to receive some expression of humanity from others has become rare in our disconnected world. This is another element about Airbnb (and other short-term-rental services) that makes it different from other aspects of the so-called sharing economy. At its core, Airbnb involves the most intimate human interactions: visiting people in their homes, sleeping in their beds, using their bathrooms.

That is precisely what makes it objectionable to so many people who can never imagine using it. But it’s also what makes it unique. This kind of “sharing” is not present when you hire a person to fix a leak on TaskRabbit, or when you get into someone’s air-conditioned black car for a silent ride to the airport. More than anything else, it is this aspect of Airbnb that distinguishes it from Uber, Lyft, and any other of its sharing-economy peers. Elisa Schreiber, marketing partner at Greylock Partners, an investor in the company, summarized this distinction concisely after we got to talking about it one day. “Uber is transactional,” she said. “Airbnb is humanity.” 

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