Branding for Startups at the example of AirBnB and Uber

The early days of a startup are an exciting time, but also a difficult one. Here are how some of the biggest startups out there made a smart start.

Branding Needs Focus from the Beginning

Branding needs focus from Startups

Just like many young people, young companies often struggle to find their own unique identity. This is because things that look great on paper often need to be changed to suit real-life situations. Often, young companies must change their ideas somewhat to suit the market, their target audience, and other factors.

This can make it hard for many entrepreneurs to know what the branding of their startup should look like. It makes building a company culture and consistent brand identity difficult.

Even though there is rarely time to spare, especially in the early days of a startup, digital branding should not be forgotten. It is essential to set time aside to figure out what kind of brand you want to build. After all, how can you reach your goals if you don’t even know what they are?

The success of startups Airbnb and Uber have built strong digital brands from their early days, and it has really paid off.

Here’s how they did it.

SEE ALSO: What Is Digital Branding

The Case Study Startups: Airbnb and Uber

Let’s take a closer look at these two household names, so we can understand their journeys and overall strategies for success.


Airbnb was founded in 2008. Over the last decade, it has experienced a truly meteoric rise. It has built a massive international community of hosts and travelers in that time and allows people around the world to stay with locals in their private accommodations.

Today, Airbnb is one of the most recognized global brands. It has built a network that spans nearly 200 countries and over 30,000 cities. Airbnb has done this by selling the idea that it allows anyone to belong wherever they go, as they illustrated in the 2014 video introducing their logo: The Bélo.

This branding has remained consistently effective for nearly half a decade.


Uber is a global transportation network. This company has over $10 billion to date in funding. It allows people to transform their personal cars into a taxi service that is often much more affordable than traditional taxi services.

They brand themselves as a facilitator of dreams that tries to make more than transportation accessible. In this video, they announce their initiative to cover tuition costs for some of their driver-partners.

What Uber and Airbnb Have Done Right

Both of these companies are truly revolutionary brands. They have changed and actually built entirely new industry sectors. However, wherever there is this type of innovation, there is also controversy. Many city governments and have tried to, or still do, prohibit both companies from operating there.

This has often been countered through the strength of their branding and massive fanbase of supporters.

SEE ALSO: 5 Steps Towards Building Brand Credibility

The Ins and Outs of Branding

This is the official definition of branding from

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

Let’s break this down.

Essentially, branding uses consistent themes to attract and retain loyal customers. When branding is done right, it builds a positive and relatable image around a company. This humanizes the company and makes consumers develop good associations and emotional connections with it. This image will define your company’s look, personality, and values.

Your brand image plays a big part in how people will talk and think about your brand. This can have a big impact on purchasing decisions.

SEE ALSO: 6 Psychology Hacks That Immediately Improve Your Digital Brand

Without branding, you leave people’s perceptions of your brand up to chance entirely. This can be risky, and lead to them passing over it entirely.

A Closer Look at AirBnB’s Branding

A recent Airbnb brand campaign is centered around this phrase:

“Don’t go there. Live there.”

This messaging is all over their branding across different channels, including social media and TV. Here is one of their latest ads.

This is powerful, simple branding. It cements their service as the gateway to attractive and authentic experiences.

It All Starts With a Strong Vision

In almost every situation, you must start with the basics before you can make something truly spectacular. However, the basics are what many startups struggle with. Before you can create a strong brand, you need a strong vision, but what exactly does that mean?

Begin with a vision statement. These usually give companies a strategic direction. They state exactly what your company’s present goals are and where you want it to go in the future.

Your vision statement should include your vision for the market your company is in. Also explore the role your company will play in this market, and the possibility of it growing out of the market entirely.

Uber’s Vision Explored

When asked about his vision for Uber in an interview, this is what former CEO Travis Kalanick said:

“…Just imagine a city where traffic speeds along smoothly and quietly, even at rush hour — this is my dream…This is our ultimate vision of the future…Smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access.”

Uber has definitely accomplished some of that. While this vision does not provide a step-by-step list of ways to get there or outline the daily operations of Uber, it sets important goals to work toward.

How to Find your Vision

Startups finding their target

These helpful tips can help you define the vision of your company and create effective digital branding.

  1. Think about current challenges in the market. Know why you started your business in this market and how you would like to see the market change in 10 or 20 years.
  2. Know your personal dreams and wishes for your company and what role you want it to play in the world. These can be big or small.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. If your vision is confusing to you, there is no way you will be able to communicate it to others effectively as part of a cohesive brand.

SEE ALSO: How to Get Started With Digital Branding

Vision is Everything in Branding

A good brand needs a clear mission, distinct look, inviting personality, and a product or service that delivers. However, the root of all of this is a clear and purpose-driven vision. Before you can create the stylistic and unique branding that will make people fall in love with your startup, you need to know exactly what your company is and what you want it to be.

What do you think lies ahead for Uber and Airbnb? Comment below…

Written by
Juntae DeLane

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