Airbnb has launched its own bespoke font designed in partnership with type foundry Dalton Maag, named Airbnb Cereal. Aiming to unify its online and offline identities, the brand decided there wasn’t an existing typeface that was up to the job, hence turned to the foundry to help develop an in-house one.
“Part of scaling online to offline is how people see Airbnb in the real world. Online should mirror what they see offline, and vice-versa. But, there wasn’t a font out there that could actually do that. So, we created one,” says the Airbnb team. Cereal, they say, allows the brand to “leap from button to billboard”.
Its name, Cereal, is a reference to the beginnings of the company, as apparently when the Airbnb co-founders were on “the verge of calling it quits” in 2008 they created collectible branded cereal named Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain. In doing so they tapped into the presidential election buzz and raised funds to bolster their fledgling company, and the project is now seen as a reflection of their approach to “solving problems in unexpected ways”.
The font design aims to combine character, function and scale. It’s also part of a drive by the company to make Airbnb more accessible, so readability was a primary focus. Derek Chan, creative lead in Airbnb’s marketing team, says that the brand’s work is “extremely typographic” and experienced across various mediums, with “specific business needs around brand distinction, legibility, and scalability, that no available typefaces were addressing”.
Dalton Maag were chosen as a collaborator due to its mixture of work with various clients (including the recent Netflix Sans) across a range of mediums, from phone displays to large marketing campaigns, which Derek says matched its ambitions for scalability and brand continuity, and a typeface that was “locally relevant but cohesively designed”.
Cereal comes in light, book, medium, bold, extra bold and black. Karri Saarinen, design lead for Airbnb’s design language systems team – which is responsible for Airbnb design guidelines – says the designers looked at the project “through the lens of product design.
“We focused on legibility, weights, texture, and overall aesthetics, and collected feedback from stakeholders such as leadership, product designers, and the accessibility team. And it became an engineering project when it came time to test and integrate.”
Airbnb Cereal is rolled out across Airbnb apps today, and on the brand’s multiple websites in the next few weeks.