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The inside story of Bungalow’s brand evolution

We sat down with Steve Selzer, Head of Design at Bungalow, formerly Design Manager at Airbnb, and Creative Director at Frog.

Tell us about the update

What you’re seeing live on the website today is the culmination of nearly 2 years of brand evolution.

The refreshed Bungalow brand, March 2021

But before I talk about where we landed, let me tell you how we got here!

I love to ask people this question:

What brands come to mind when you think about living with roommates?

The truth is, most people hesitate to answer.

When I ask about food delivery, they’ll rattle off 4, 5 different brands! DoorDash! GrubHub! UberEats! Postmates! Seamless!

But roommates? Crickets.

Now, of course they’ll eventually arrive at Craigslist and Facebook. Some will even say Top Ramen — which, of course, is the correct answer.

But this gap, this hesitation made us realize that there’s no obvious brand that stands out. And if there’s no clear brand out there, then we’ve got one hell of an opportunity to really own this space.

When we looked around at the competitive landscape, we saw something else that was super interesting: most of the companies out there actually shy away from talking about roommates!

Why? Because it’s messy! It’s challenging! Living with roommates isn’t easy!

So we teamed up with the amazing creative agency Bokeh and together we pushed on this.

We decided that Bungalow is not going to shy away from it. That we’re going to lean in. And that we should be proud of all the work we’re doing with our product to make living with roommates easier and better. Because living with roommates is so enriching and life is so much better together.

They went away, and then they came back with 3 words we needed to hear: MADE FOR ROOMMATES.

And that was it! It all stemmed from there. Taking a stand, putting a stake in the ground, and positioning ourselves as the brand that believes living together is better than living alone.

How about the visual evolution?

The visual evolution happened slowly.

We’re actually still using the same wordmark, the same typefaces (Cambon and Akkurat Pro), and the same primary color palette (charcoal, salmon, cream, and blue).

But our brand colors needed to be more accessible. Our fonts were easier to read at heavier weights. And our cream background needed to be used more intentionally (and more sparingly). So for entirely functional reasons (OK, and aesthetic reasons too), we evolved.

That evolution wasn’t enough. We were still missing a key ingredient. We wanted to capture the energy of living with friends, the way we casually communicate, that wonderful serendipitous magic.

So we threw in some emojis and a gradient and voila! It stuck.

At least for now!

What was the original brand like?

When I joined Bungalow in April 2019, the team had just wrapped up a rebrand effort with Red Antler — everything from the brand strategy and messaging framework, to the wordmark and pineapple logo and typefaces you see today.

Super excited to see their work, I asked: “When is the rebrand launching??”

The team’s response: “That’s why you’re here!”

For the next month or so we updated all of the pages of the website, learned to work with the new brand guidelines, and eventually launched the rebrand in June 2019.

The original rebrand, June 2019

The primary colors were a charcoal, salmon, and yellowish cream color. We also had a series of secondary colors to work with, like the pink and brown and blue in those portrait shots of our residents.

We stayed very close to the original brand guidelines in the beginning, but over the course of the last year and a half, we’ve slowly evolved the brand to be more accessible, more vibrant, and (warning: cliché alert!) more human.

Can we get a little glimpse of what it’ll look like when launched?

Yup! Here you go. Bungalow brand evolution (Playbook)

Any exciting expansion or hiring plans?

We’re in 12+ cities and we’re expanding into many, many more in the next several months!

We’re also hiring! I’m looking for a Lead Product Designer to join our small but mighty team. If that’s you, send me a note at [email protected] and let’s chat!

Also none of this work would have been possible without the incredible collaboration between our marketing, product, sales, ops, and engineering teams. They make all of this magic possible. Special shout out to Michal, our incredible designer who led the visual evolution every step of the way; and Mara, our brilliant CMO who drove the strategic work that brought this to life.

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For more info about the Lead Product Design role: