Uber unveiled the design of their logo on February 2nd. Not only did Uber redesign their logo, they also rebranded their company. Since the unveiling, they have caused quite the stir. Something once familiar has become foreign and unrecognizable to thousands. We are human and many of us dislike change. So naturally, we aren’t going to like something initially.
Whether you love or hate the new design, the truth is, people are still going to continue using Uber’s services. I will admit when I first saw the new logo, I hated it. In fact, I first thought the swirly parts reminded me of push back earrings. Then I realized the design resembled the Mac command icon. What happened to the U in the middle? I didn’t understand why they changed it. To me, the new design wasn’t recognizable anymore. It looked like just another brand. It looked average and honestly, Uber isn’t just another business. They completely changed how people get around. And not just in the United States, but all over the world! Today, they serve over 68 countries with transportation, food deliveries (UberEats), and package deliveries (UberRush).
So why the change?
After reading a brief explanation in Uber’s Newsroom from CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, I began to feel better about the redesign. Kalanick describes the old logo as something that needed a haircut because it was outdated. When Uber originally launched in 2009 they were a private company only providing service for 100 people in the San Francisco area. That’s not who they are anymore. They are no longer an upscale and private service, they have become affordable for everyone to use. Now, the company wants to focus on technology and the cities/people they serve.
Kalanick explains the new Uber in terms of bits and atoms. He says, “The unique aspect of Uber is that we exist in the physical world. When you push a button on your phone, a car moves across the city and appears where you are. We exist in the place where bits and atoms come together. That is Uber. We are not just technology but technology that moves cities and their citizens.”
The thing is, when you simply look at the new design you really don’t know the back-story. Many people on social media have expressed their feelings towards the new logo and overall, I would say it has not been accepted. Like I said earlier, I hated the new logo. I think because I didn’t understand it and was confused about what they were trying to do. But after reading an article by Jessi Hempel from Wire entitled, The Inside Story of Uber’s Radical Redesign, my feelings softened.
In Hempel’s article, I learned not only about Uber’s birth but the process Kalanick’s team took to redesign. It’s a side that you don’t often get to hear but when you do, it becomes personal and real. Hempel humanized Uber’s brand. Uber was a startup company and now has turned into a worldwide company. As a startup company, they rushed to get a design finished, not really knowing how their company would evolve. But isn’t that how everyone starts? Who can predict their future success or failure? For all they knew, it could have stopped with those 100 people but it didn’t. The company continued with the same logo and wordmark as they tried to build a reputation for themselves.
Uber is a global company and Kalanick wanted the new design to have different colors, patterns, and images for each country/region. I understand the purpose of marketing to different countries so that it resonates with consumers. I think that was a wise move on Uber’s part.
I think the biggest aspect that is not explained by simply looking at the design is Uber’s potential in the future. The company is expecting bigger and better things to come (who doesn’t have goals and expectations?). In the future, they hope to have self-driving vehicles. The other part, well, they aren’t really sure what the future holds either. The reason Kalanick’s team created such a design was because they wanted it to be able to connect with their other apps and app icons. My understanding is that Kalanick hopes that they don’t need to do another redesign for a while.
I do wish they had at least kept the “U” in their design. I think that is what makes them so recognizable. I guess we will see if the new design sticks around longer than the previous one. Time will tell.