So Uber’s been making a lot of headlines in the business world lately. Some bad PR around their old CEO, Travis Kalanick, then some better PR around their new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, AND some of my favorite PR, a new female moving into the C-suite, Rebecca Messina. The list continues to grow as the ride-sharing tech company attempts to move past some deep organizational mistakes and maintain its relevance in a quickly growing market segment.
With all that on the table, it’s pretty obvious that Uber is having to get used to major changes becoming a constant within their company. So maybe it’s no surprise that Uber’s logo has taken on a new face yet again since it was founded in 2009.
Adweek reported that some of the reasoning behind the switch to this new wordmark of a logo is because many consumers didn’t associate the old logo (a stop button with a line cutting through the left?) with Uber’s ride-sharing service. So couple that insight with the idea that Uber is trying to put their organizational troubles behind them, and a rebrand like this makes sense. Or does it?
I for one feel like this logo falls a little flat. For a company that has worked to revolutionize a segment public transportation, I might have hoped for a little more in the design department. Now, keep in mind, this logo is just one part of a much larger rebrand. It’s introducing a whole new typeface, new colors (a blacker black and a whiter white? Your guess is as good as mine), and a completely re-designed in-app UI, including some niftier animations and other goodies.
So it’s totally possible that this logo is part of something far less… underwhelming, than it appears. I recognize that graphic design styles have certainly taken on a more minimalistic, simplified approach in recent years than our past eras of clip art and aggressively neon color pops. And that’s totally fine! As someone who is far more type A and not nearly as creative as she’d like to be, simple and fresh designs make me very happy. But I’m still just confused about where Uber’s brand personality fits in with this redesign. Maybe the weird stop symbol was confusing or hard to relate to…but using the company name by itself as the logo seems a little too on the nose… doesn’t it?
My hope against this feeling is that this is just the beginning for Uber. It makes sense for a company this established to finally have their own typeface. That’s exciting, it gives them more ownership over their brand identity. And we all know the sharing economy is expanding into new realms every quarter. Bird scooters are the latest application of this, driverless cars continue to be a wistful daydream just ever so slightly out of reach. So maybe these small steps in Uber’s rebrand are part of a bigger strategy… To act as a holding place until the company introduces a new game-changer for the market. One that completely redefines consumer expectations and can’t be locked into any one symbol or image because it doesn’t exist yet.
I admit, this may be a little too hopeful. I’m sure the design team at Uber has their reasons, and I’m sure they’re good ones. But whether you love this new design or you’re feeling just as confused as you did with the old one, the fact that it comes during a time of so much internal AND external change certainly signals a major transformation for Uber. What do you think the future holds for this brand?