Uber’s Radical Re-branding Lessons

The concept of Uber was a breakthrough in the taxi industry. We must admit that we are fans of Uber at PromosXchange. Uber is considered to be more valuable than FedEx or For Motor Company. Earlier this month just like Uber users across the globe, we came to find a wholly unrecognizable symbol in their Uber App on our smartphones. Instead of the usual U icon, we found a square bit like icon. Just like most of the general public, we were perplexed about Uber’s new logo. Uber has had to deal with the mammoth re-branding backlash with reactions on social media such as “Yikes” and “Ugly”. It’s a great case study on re-branding lessons that we could all learn from Uber.

Uber’s original logo on left and Uber’s new rider and partner logos on right (Source: Uber)


Lesson #1 Do not lose what’s iconic in your branding.

The “U” in Uber’s previous logo became familiar and iconic to its global users over time. Therefore, it shouldn’t have been a shock for Uber to learn that after their re-brand, users were left confused about Uber’s new look. Those who tried locating their Uber app on their smartphones found it frustrating, as they could not easily locate the app due to the new logo. The lesson here – Familiarity and continuity is vital when a part of your brand has become an icon.


Lesson # Keep it simple.

We get that Uber wanted a re-brand as their previous black and silver logo was too cold and distant for their liking and they wanted to re-position themselves as a delivery company that can move goods and food rather than just moving people. We also get that Uber wanted a logo could “speak” to their local audience in different countries. In re-designing their logo, they overthought and overcomplicated things instead of keeping things simple. We would have recommended keeping the iconic U in their new logo, retain the logo’s simplicity while adding a touch of softness, create a more legible typeface and stick to a handful of main brand colours instead of Uber’s 65 different colour palettes to suit different countries.


Lesson #3 Get extensive feedback from your target audience.

Part of Uber’s success in breaking into the taxi industry is the lengths Uber has gone to understand their audiences’ travel and lifestyle behaviours. It’s a pity that Uber did not get extensive feedback from their global users when it came to their re-brand. If Uber had gotten extensive feedback from their global users prior to the creation and launch of their new logo, they would have been able to avoid the re-brand backlash and create a look that better resonates with their users while meeting their company goals.


Lesson #4 Do not get emotionally tied-in.

It’s hard to be unbiased when it comes to your branding when you’re so emotionally tied-in with your brand. Uber is Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick’s “baby” and so he couldn’t help but play a large hand in the re-design of Uber’s logo. He spent countless hours in Uber’s brainstorming room (aka the war room) on the re-design ideas despite the fact that he is an engineer and not a designer by nature. The project was completed 100% in-house with no external branding expertise. In-fact, the patterns with the squiggly lines idea in Uber’s new logo was inspired by Uber’s communication designer’s bathroom tiles in her home. This is a vital lesson to all CEOs and marketers, as hard as it may be, if you are emotionally tied to the brand, you need to take a step back and let the brand experts with fresh eyes help you. Remember you are the expert in your business so let the experts in the business of design look after your brand – PromosXchange.