Uber’s Rebranding: The Good & The Bad

Feb 05, 2016

Uber’s Rebranding: The Good & The Bad

By Tai Tran

In recent days, Uber customers everywhere have been heading to social to vent their confusion for the recent logo revamp of their beloved ride hailing app. The familiar “U” logo is now replaced with a new icon that many users describe as unrecognizable. According to a Wired’s inside story, Uber promises that this rebranding will “transform its purpose and cement a new reputation — to change not only how it is perceived throughout the world, but how it perceives itself.”

In the past day alone, there has been a lot of social chatters and press surrounding Uber’s recent rebranding with many going as far as calling it an absolute failure. However, like all changes, time and acceptance will be needed. With that being said, I do believe that the rebranding left a lot to be desired and had many shortcomings — one of which being the new logomark moving away from the iconic “U” symbol. Rather than coming up with another list of shortcomings, I’d like to first focus on the potential of this rebranding before discussing its core shortcoming.

Expanding Beyond On-Demand Ride Hailing (+)

The majority of complaints for the new logo has come from the fact that it no longer resembles the recognizable letter “U”. Social has been calling this new logo the crooked U or even a backward C in many instances. This logomark change along with branding materials highlighting Uber’s non-ride hailing services suggest that the company is attempting to break away from its current image of just being a ride-on-demand app. In its rebranding video, Uber is seen highlighting UberEats and UberRush, while showing aspirations to have a fleet of self-riding cars as part of its vision for the future.
This type of rebranding is not uncommon. Last summer, Logitech dropped the suffix “tech” from its logo, explaining that the term was outdated in a time where tech is now a table stake. Several months later, the start-up ZenPayroll adopted a new name, Gusto. By dropping payroll from its name, Gusto allowed itself to expand beyond just payroll services and enter into other businesses such as benefits.


Localized Experience (+)

The rebranding promises a more localized feel and look for individual country and city. While customers in Mexico will see a design with pink and patterns of local tiles, Ireland will experience a color palette inspired from Georgian architecture and lush greens. Despite the disdain for the new logo, most users have not complained about the colorful background that accompanies the logo. As Uber scales globally, having this unique feel and look may help the brand stand out on the international stage. I welcome this change as it makes the Uber experience more wholesome and unique for people who use the service from multiple locations.


Cleaner Logotype For Mobile (+)

The new logotype stood out as the champion of this rebrand. Note that we are speaking of the new logotype (i.e. Uber) and not the new logomark. Gone are the curls from the letters “U” and “r”. The revamped logotype gives Uber a much cleaner and compact look. Translated to a mobile screen, the new font is tidier.

The Bad: On-Demand Is No Longer On-Demand (-)

The term “uberization” is a common term among the start-up community for businesses that deliver on-demand services. When consumers think of Uber, they think of a quick and simple experience for ride hailing. This rebranding unfortunately did the opposite.
Many users have complained that the new logomark is now unrecognizable on their devices. On average, mobile users interface with roughly 26 apps a month (Nielsen). This also means that every second matters when it comes to app finding and utilization. The extra few seconds that a user wastes to locate an app could ultimately open doors to brand switching and lost revenue. Although I find a lot of potential in Uber’s rebranding, in this instance, the new logomark created a disconnect between the user experience and the brand’s promise for a fast and simple experience.



Parting Thoughts

Rebranding is never an easy transformation for any brand. I am optimistic that this rebranding will help with Uber’s long-term vision of global expansion and service mix diversification. My recommendation? As Uber introduces its new look and purpose, it must take a step back and re-evaluate this new initiative with its customers in mind. Decide what is resonating and what’s not, then address them appropriately.

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