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Why Airbnb Is Launching A Print Magazine

The glossy new publication is part of Airbnb's grand strategy to bring its brand offline.

[Photo: Flickr user Gustavo Veríssimo]

Later this week, Airbnb will release a glossy new print quarterly called Pineapple. At first glance, the publishing effort might seem a strange venture for the online accommodations marketplace, but it's actually the next logical step in Airbnb's master plan to make its brand as omnipresent in the real world as it is online.

The company's brand overhaul began with a new logo this summer. As Fast Company's Austin Carr wrote in July 2014:

The company's branding has also been given a makeover, thanks in large part to a new company symbol which resembles a paperclip stretched out in the style of an A-shaped birdhouse. The goal is to give Airbnb an offline presence as ubiquitous as its online presence—all while laying the foundation for marketing a slew of new sharing-economy services down the road, as [CEO Brian] Chesky explained to me during a recent behind-the-scenes look at Airbnb's creative process.

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Whereas Lyft is known for its pink mustaches and even hotel chains like Days Inn have nationally recognizable logos, it's worth noting that Airbnb has never had such a consistent offline presence. When you arrive at an Airbnb, your interaction with the brand itself essentially ends with the app; there's no Airbnb flag outside the door welcoming you when you check in like there is at, say, a Hilton. That's finally changing.

Airbnb's new magazine isn't the company's first effort to bring its brand into the offline world; along with its logo redesign this summer, the company also announced a partnership with Zazzle to create Airbnb-branded merchandise. But the magazine is another step toward getting consumers to see the Airbnb experience as a lifestyle, much in the same way as Condé Nast Traveler does for luxury travel.

Copies of Pineapple (the fruit was once a sign of hospitality on New England homes) will be available for purchase at various stores and through its website, but the best way to read a copy will be by booking an Airbnb. According to Andrew Schapiro, head of brand creative for the company, 18,000 free copies of Pineapple will be distributed for free to Airbnb hosts around the world.

So what's Pineapple going to do exactly? The inaugural issue is 128 pages, ad-free, and designed to spark coffee-table conversation. Each issue will focus on three cities—London, San Francisco, and Seoul get the honors the first time around—and feature stories of hosts and guests. It's not uncommon for hospitality and travel brands to offer their own branded magazines to customers—the Waldorf Astoria, for example, launched a bi-annual magazine in 2013, and many similar corporate publications greet guests when they first arrive at their hotel rooms. But Airbnb, especially with its cofounders' design-centric pedigrees, doesn't just want to launch another SkyMall.

Ultimately, they want to create an end-to-end travel experience that's worthy of the pages of a high-end travel magazine—and Pineapple, with its photography and storytelling, will likely aim to serve as another visual cue that Airbnb is capable of delivering those types of experiences to guests.

[h/t: The New York Times]