It's very much a brand of its time, tapping into several of the megatrends for the early 21st century, with a degree of healthy tension - between belonging and individuality, between exploration and feeling at home. The slogan 'Live like a local, not a tourist' taps into something many can identify with. And it's all made possible by connection via technology, such that the digital and real worlds are seamlessly linked.
Airbnb is the world's 3rd most valuable privately-held start-up, operating in 190 countries, 34,000 cities with over 1m hosts. And they've only been going since 2008.
Those 1m+ hosts are the core of the brand, and Airbnb is completely dependent on them. This is what makes Airbnb so different, and potentially brilliant or disastrous. 1m+ human beings in all their diversity and irrationality. There can be no 'consistency guidelines' here.
It's interesting that the brand positioning or purpose, 'Belong Anywhere' taps mainly into the guest mode or point of view. Is it a weakness that the hosts (or people in host mode rather than guest mode, as I am sure there is plenty of overlap) have entirely different motivations (and a far greater risk) than the guests, yet they are not addressed in the core positioning?
It's certainly a brand to watch, but I have one other reservation (if you'll pardon the pun) before I use this an example. I haven't even tried Airbnb as a guest, let alone offered myself as a host.
Maybe one resolution for 2016 should be to give it a go.