May 2, 2016

Is “Turning Fear Into Fun” the Gift of Creativity?

If you’ve been around my blog or my online trainings, then you’ve undoubtedly heard my favorite saying:

A great brand is not about logos, colors and fonts. A great brand is about the way you make people FEEL.

This weekend, I watched a fresh and enlightening TED talk by Joe Gebbia, one of the co-founders of Airbnb, and I wanted to share it with you here. Gebbia, who is a designer, discusses how he and his co-founders “designed for trust” when they created Airbnb.

From a branding standpoint, I love everything about this talk. I love that Gebbia started his business because he had a realization – through a personal experience – that shifted one of his fundamental beliefs:

“Maybe the people my childhood taught me to label as strangers were actually friends, waiting to be discovered.”

Friends… waiting to be discovered.

What a beautiful concept to share with the world.



When we understand that living our brand values (rather than just writing them down) creates connections – and connections lead to sales and loyalty – we move past traditional branding in a huge way.

I meet so many business owners who believe that their brands are about visuals. I hear, “I’m having my designer do my brand right now, “ or “My new brand is red.”

But a brand is so much more than what meets the eye. Sure… design is part of it. But brands are made and broken by the ways in which companies BEHAVE. Customers EXPERIENCE brands, they don’t just see them.

And what I love most about Gebbia is that he understood the fear and the bias of his potential customers. And he designed TO that fear. He set out to design something that would break belief patterns. He set out to design something that would create trust OVER fear.

As he tells the story of bringing the home-sharing site to a reality, he says (with more than a little sarcasm),

“Here’s what we pitched investors: We want to build a website where people publicly post pictures of their most intimate spaces… their bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kind of rooms you usually keep closed when people come over… And then – over the Internet – they’re going to invite complete strangers to come sleep in their homes! It’s gonna be huge!!”

He and his co-founders fully understood the “stranger danger” bias. But they believed, based on their own bias-changing experiences, that they could design a site that would change the world. And guess what?

The rest… is history.

Is your brand experience designed to change belief patterns? Share with me, in the comments below.

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