Bits and Atoms - A Look Back At The Successes And Failures Of Uber's First Major Rebrand

Uber has revolutionized how millions around the world get around. It is essentially a tool that connects people looking to travel from one point to another with drivers that can take them there. Rather than getting into a booking office or making a call to place your order, the driver is the one who looks for you using GPS.

The Uber app sends a message with your details to the nearest cab driver. You can examine the prices using the app and launch a request depending on whether there is a surge or not.

Everything is done through the app, from launching the request, to paying for your ride, and giving feedback in the form of star ratings. You can even order for self-driving cars, motorcycle taxis, shared cabs, or a helicopter – if you're really in a hurry.

As a result, Uber has established itself as a disruptor and innovator at the leading edge of changing transportation, with a presence almost every corner of the globe.

The men behind Uber

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. It may present itself as a tale but sensible for Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, who had a problem getting a cab to take them home on a snowy evening in Paris.

They came up with an idea – an app where one could tap a button and get a ride without much hassle. From that simple idea, the Uber concept was born.

Uber has employed a number of strategies to establish itself in various markets.

Uber Angel, for example, is a dedicated service in Colombia that takes passengers home after a night out at the pub.

In Colombia, as in other parts of the world, it is a criminal offence to drive while drunk. The country has a much lower smartphone penetration level than its neighbours, and Uber faces stiff competition from traditional taxi services and local startups. Colombian government officials aren't too keen on the service either.

With the large proportion of deaths associated with drunk driving in the country, the service makes sense and is an example of how the company identifies a need and tailors a service around it.

The inside story behind Uber's rebranding

Uber's rebranding was abrupt, with the change from a minimalist black-and-white icon to a colourful hexagon catching some off guard.

Some thought it was a scam popup or a virus which had invaded their smartphones. The new geometric hexagon logo has different colours depending on the user's location, for instance, red in China, turquoise in India and dark teal in the USA.

Conclusion

The new design, the company says, has a look and feel that celebrates their technology, as well as the cities they serve. It contains five Pillars which explain how the company works: to be grounded, populist, inspiring, highly evolved and elevated.

It took 18 months to finalize the look of the Uber icon, and the bold move is a show of the company's belief in its own identity. From his explanation, Kalanick says that the rebranding is an evolution for the founder and also for the company. The question remains, will this icon stand out forever?

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