VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner. Established in 1996, it’s actually an OG in the space of home rentals, with Airbnb getting founded 12 years later in 2008. It was later on acquired by Expedia in 2015 alongside its more than two million rental listings.
Texas-based FODA was in charge of the redesign of the brand identity, getting rid of the all-capital V.R.B.O., reverting to a first-letter-only capital Vrbo, accompanied by the education to pronounce the name as “Ver-boh”. Under Consideration blogged about this and featured more detail.
Inspired by stripes, our new wordmark symbolizes everything we love about travel. The excitement of new adventures. The special feeling of time removed from the everyday. The pathways and lines of the wordmark symbolize different people coming together. The lines parallel then converge — their paths often part, but eventually find their way back to one another. – JEFF WILLIAMS, HOMEAWAY VP OF DESIGN
My first impression – it’s definitely a step towards. In a world where every ‘logo’ is basically a name typed in sans serif (like it actually was), it’s a good breath of fresh air for brands to still consider a visual play on their name.
The ‘stripes’ concept was a bit of a stretch, although I’d say it was a good base of idea. Unlike Adidas going with just a simple set of 3 bars, the very V of this rebrand uses 5 slanting lines which limits its visual purpose when going down in scale. Proof of this is how they use a solid-fill version instead for the favicon on the website. Even as a watermark on its Youtube videos, if you squint a bit, you really can’t see stripes with such fine margins between each line. This begs the question if the stripes even serve any purpose other than be the concept of ‘paths’ behind the design the studio has provided.
In any case, looking at the redesign it has now, I have ideas on how Vrbo can gain more exposure and recall in today’s market, where you think of Airbnb as an alternative accommodation to hotels.
Vrbo videos should use those lines
First off, I’d suggest utilizing that linear logo and implementing it into those videos for great recall. That way these videos visually belong to Vrbo even just by looking at the thumbnail. The lines can be used when concluding a video, or introducing a certain topic within a video. This separates them from becoming the generic type of videos spreading online.
Market the Vrbo name as a verb
Correlation can easily associate the brand with what it does. To Google is to search, to Vrbo is to book a home – one that would serve a good host for memories and moments with friends and family, solidifying the “Travel better together” tagline.
A short audible for education
There’s something memorable about the way Mcdonald’s goes “paparapapap” or “I’m lovin’ it,” similar to how it goes “Hotel? Trivago”. Vrbo has the opportunity to utilize sound recall by doing the same for the Vrbo brand at the end of its videos.
Ride that influencer game
Probably the most ‘organic’ way to reach the audience, rather than be an ad in video streaming platforms, is to be endorsed by people who travel a lot. People search Youtube for travel reviews and ideas and they’re bound to come across these influencers. In the same concept that reviews feel more authentic to the market, it should be more effective if Vrbo comes to the market as a recommendation versus an ad, accompanied by a special referral link “in the description below”. As a bonus, the endorsers actually mention “Vrbo,” which passively educates the audience of the pronunciation.
These are ideas on top of my head as I come across the Vrbo rebrand. If I would do anything different from what FODA has done, it’s probably to simplify the visual approach. Make it less busy.
The stripes applied on every letter of the type kind of feels too complicated to me. Maybe it could’ve just been a stylized V. Maybe it could’ve just been applied to one stem of the V, with the rest of the name filled in. It just makes more sense to me to have a simpler image for the market to absorb.