Airbnb on why being a meaningful brand is more than just ‘worthy advertising’

Purpose-driven advertising is the trend du jour for many marketers but it won’t yield profitable business unless a brand lives and breathes its core values, according to a senior marketer at Airbnb.

It’s easier said than done but the startup’s push into 190 markets in just eight years is testament to how commercially sound it is to view purpose not just as a marketing ploy. And with companies like Airbnb emerging faster than ever to disrupt the status quo, EMEA marketing manager Holly Clarke believes 21st century brands can no longer get away with just talking the talk when it comes to espousing the values they have.

“When you’re a 21st century company you have to live and breathe everything that you believe, meaning that every single employee has to work toward that mission and the business is delivering customer service at every stage,” she added. “It’s not just about creating a campaign that’s worthy; being a meaningful brand is about being meaningful to every single person that the brand touches….its important have a purpose as a brand rather than purpose driven advertising.”

One way Airbnb transforms its purposeful message into action is by staying connected to its community. It’s the lifeblood of the business and so it has regular community meet-ups to help root all its marketing to an experience all those members share - that first moment a traveler knocks on a door and meets their host.

It’s that direct impact on society that people believe Airbnb has and more importantly are buying into. It was voted the ‘Most Meaningful Brand’ in a study conducted by Havas Media Group and The Drum, beating several other companies including Aldi, Amazon and John Lewis.

“Airbnb is a meaningful brand because it’s not just about that it’s about being a community. To be meaningful you have to be changing the world,” added Clarke. “The company started as a way to earn money from spare space, whereas you realise that it’s all about experiencing things not just as a tourist but as a local.”

Paul Frampton, chief executive of Havas Media Group UK and Ireland, said: "Airbnb are a textbook case of a meaningful brand - their crystal clear human purpose is applied to everything they do, ensuring they provide tangible value back to both accommodation buyers and hosts alike. They provide personal and collective benefit to the communities they serve which is what being a meaningful brand is all about."

Airbnb was named as this year's Most Meaningful Brand at The Drum Marketing Awards.

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