Uber’s New Logo: Driving Critique

Uber users have recently faced a moment of confusion and panic. Lately, Uber has undergone a dramatic logo change to the point where users had trouble finding the app. Before, Uber users looked for the simple white “U” letter against a black background. Now, the “U” is unidentifiable against a dark teal and more geometric background.

The meaning behind the new logo:

Uber’s new marketing campaign focuses on the combinations of “the bit” and “the atom”, seen in their new design framework. Seen in their new branding movie featured on the company website, “the bit” shifts the company focus towards their technology, which manifests itself through the small black square centered in the new logo. “The atom” encompasses all the different aspects of the human world ranging from food to cities, and to cars. According to Uber, “the old [design] was black and white, somewhat distant and cold”. In order to “bring out this human side—the atoms—[have] added color and patterns”. Since the app is now available in 400 cities and 68 different countries, the new design comes in different color schemes, personalized to each country and region of the world.

While most of us like to think this happened over night, Uber has been planning this important branding decision for years. Jessi Hempel from Wired.com claims, “the story of how Kalanick and his design team came to replace the ubiquitous “U” logo is about more than a corporate rebranding effort. It’s a “coming-of-age tale”. The company believes that the combination of “the bit” and “the atom” is its new future.

Why logos are so important:

As we previously discussed in the importance of logos, companies must be able to efficiently capture the nostalgia and modernity of the company through its design. The logo is key to a company when it comes to visualization and familiarity. Taking this into account, companies capitalize on this aspect because it is what the customers see in order to connect with the company, and manifest their mission statement visually.

Was Uber’s rebranding a success?

Having launched their new re-branding campaign without any notice, Uber has stirred some conversation in the online community. The majority seems critical to the sudden change, so far as to calling it “disgusting”. In his recent blog post, the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick explains, “today we aspire to make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere and for everyone. Our new brand reflects that reality by working to celebrate the cities that Uber serves”.

Due to the fact that the new design decision was solely based upon Kalanick and his design team, Kalanick’s message was not as transparent to his customers as he had hoped. In their efforts to keep up with an on demand economy, Uber failed to receive any feedback from its customers, and most importantly, CEO Travis Kalanick was unable to trust an expert designer on this task and was unsuccessful with prioritizing his responsibilities as CEO.

In terms of their re-branding campaign, Uber lacked the information and feedback they needed from their customers, drivers, and the current marketplace. Even though the company itself took years during their research and development process with the new design, the lack of transparency resulted in a driving force of negative criticism from its customers and the on demand community.

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