Dude, where’s my Uber?
Uber’s new brand and missed opportunity
Change is scary. That’s a fact of life. We as humans have a tendency to find comfort in the familiar—to embrace routine (that’s why my boyfriend has yet to update his iPhone to iOS 9, despite all of the awesome new emojis that come with it). However, change is natural—especially in the life of a brand. Without a natural evolution, brands start to feel stagnant or dated. That’s how Uber’s CEO felt about their old black and silver brand, with a thin, fragile wordmark. It worked for the “old Uber,” a company that got its start connecting tech bros with town cars; and it worked as Uber expanded into the “everyman’s” market with Uber X, Uber Black, and Uber SUV but with the addition of a number of new Uber services including Uber Hop and Uber Eats, the old brand started to feel stale.
Last week, Uber rolled out its shiny new brand. This included a new wordmark, app icon, and custom color palettes and patterns for each country that Uber runs in. Inspired by “atoms and bits,” the new brand does some really great things (the app’s opening animated pattern made me giddy), and some things that are just ok. I think the strongest part of the new Uber is the addition of color and pattern. These have dynamic uses as each country Uber runs in received a custom color palette and pattern inspired by its landscape, architecture, and culture. Making Uber customizable to individual countries is a really unique idea that brought a lot of life to the new brand. It demonstrates the company understands that Uber takes a different shape in different countries and that lends a specialness and ownability to Uber globally.
The new uber wordmark is an evolution of the old one. The type went up in weight, while eliminating the flourish in the U but maintaining the “wave” in the cross bars of the B, E, and R. Overall, it doesn’t feel much different but the weight of the type does have a certain ownability to it that the previous logo was lacking. The new app icon, on the other hand, completely missed the mark for me. It ties back into the “bits and atoms” inspiration but without knowing the inspiration behind the mark, it’s unrecognizable as Uber. A white circle (atom) contains an off-center square (bit) that has a line slicing the circle so it looks like a stylized backwards C. The pattern that this mark sits on top of is the icon’s saving grace—it’s reminiscent of the routes that Uber travels and ties nicely back to the patterns.
Overall, the rebrand is alright. I think it’s a logical evolution that yielded elements that vary both in success and overall recognizability. It looks good but it doesn’t feel cohesive or express the potential of Uber in any sort of confident way.