On February 3rd, millions of people around the globe turned to their phones to look for the familiar, black and white U of the Uber app, only to find it replaced with a new, colorful, geometric-shaped icon – circular if you are a rider and hexagonal if you are a driver – encompassed inside a small, bit-like square.
But what made one of the most successful startups of all time decide to change its look so drastically without input from its most loyal riders and drivers, nor the help of a corporate branding agency?
Uber’s New Logo Design
It looks like Uber’s rebranding plans were actually in the works for nearly 3 years. The company’s CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, worked with a small internal team led by design director Shalin Amin, studying concepts and color palettes since 2012.
Finally, after settling on a concept put forth by Kalanick which described Uber’s culture as a combination of “bits and atoms”, the team started the redesign of the brand. They started studying different photographs, textiles, architecture, people, and cultures to come up with color schemes and patterns for each country where Uber operates.
The typography of the new logo design (seen below), compared to the previous logo design, has tighter kerning, the weight of the letters is heavier and the curves at the left tip of the U and on the right leg of the R are long gone.
Uber before and after logo
A New Logo Design and an Updated Brand Strategy
A new promotional video to launch Uber’s new branding entitled Where the Atom Meets the Bit was posted on Uber’s website as part of a press release from Kalanick. The video really puts in perspective where Uber was six years ago and where it is headed, not just as a luxury transportation service, but also as an affordable logistics method for people, food and goods.
“Our new look and feel celebrates both our technology and the cities we serve,” Kalanick explains on the new Uber brand site. “This updated design reflects where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. The Uber you know isn’t changing, our brand is just catching up to who we already were. – Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO & Co-Founder
Kalanick further said the new logo is “more grounded and elevated” and represents the company’s maturity. The company, which was started back in 2009 originally as UberCab, a black car service company, today operates in 400 cities in 65 countries.
Perhaps it is the convenience of the app that has led to its almost immediate popularity, as well as the jobs that it has created, but the company has seen its fair share of success and setbacks in the past six years. Critics say with the all the legal issues Uber has had to deal with, refreshing its corporate identity is probably a distraction to distance itself from what it used to be and what it has become.
A DC Marketing Agency Updates Their Logo Design
Does re-branding solve all of a businesses issues? No, not always. But TriVision never disagrees that a revamped logo or website is needed after a certain period of time, to shake up the brand strategy and jump start its future endeavors.
This is exactly why, our leaders at TriVision decided to refresh our own logo design back in 2012, when we were celebrating our milestone 20th anniversary. Our new logo maintains the same structure of the original identity, yet new colors are emerging from the “eye shaped” petals, creating more appeal to the overall design and reminding us of the new 3D world of seeing objects.
While we think refreshing a logo after a certain period of time is typically a good idea for a brand (for example Starbucks), we don’t think losing a brand’s iconic identity (in this case the U in Uber and the 3 eye-shaped petals in TriVision) is necessary. In fact, it might even turn off some loyal users.
While the bolder, heavier Uber logo typeface does make it more visible, and we do like the whole idea of “celebrating cities” with a distinct color and pattern, we do miss the all too familiar U on our phones. The dark turquoise background of the app along with the somewhat busy pattern, seems a bit lost among a sea of other apps, including Lyft’s prominent bright pink and white icon.
Do you miss the U in Uber? Let us know by posting your comment!