airbnbAirbnb’s brand philosophy brings to life the real opportunity that exists inside the shared economy. Their brand is the poster child of modern authenticity, built on a simple philosophy of belonging.

They’re more in business to help you feel welcome in a strange place than to sell you accommodation for your next trip. And their brand new TVC (Never a stranger), which was created by TBWA/Chiat/Day, really gets that point across well.

What really works well for us is that travel accommodation is largely seen as a grudge purchase. It’s the part of the trip you need to budget for and the spend as little time as possible in your hotel room, because you’re experiencing the sights and sounds of the new city you’re in. Airbnb manages to turn your accommodation choice into the whole reason for going. When you belong somewhere new, you teleport yourself into a new life – and that’s far more compelling than just booking a room.

How does Airbnb benefit by having a brand philosophy?

See the great thing about a business having a brand philosophy is that it transcends the one-dimensional aspect of just turning a profit. A brand then becomes a force which can produce a far greater global impact, which is exactly what Airbnb aims to achieve. Instead of flogging units, you add value to people’s lives through the network of connections that you allow them to tap into. Who wouldn’t want a personal phonebook of millions of friends around the world that you can stay with?

Airbnb does business in 34,000 cities, has a valuation of over 10 billion dollars, and in a very short time has disrupted the world of hospitality and travel. Its co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky envisions the future city as a place where sharing is front and center — where people become micro-entrepreneurs, the local mom and pops will flourish once again, where space isn’t wasted, but shared, and more of almost everything is produced, except waste. But the journey from here to there won’t be all smooth sailing. What are the ups and downs of the sharing economy, as businesses like Airbnb confront critiques about regulation, economic development, and fairness? What role might businesses play in creating more shareable, more livable cities? How will the sharing economy, with its de-emphasis on ownership, be a tool for addressing urban inequality?

This fireside chat from last year’s Aspen Ideas Festival with Brian Chesky from Airbnb sheds more light on that:

So can a simple brand philosophy to make a difference end up changing the world? Are there a wealth of new businesses that can be started based on the shared economy model?

Related: What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

Airbnb introduces the Bélo: the story of a symbol of belonging