BADvertising: The new Uber logo - a change ahead of its time

If you're under 34, there's a good chance that the next time you update the apps on your phone, you're going to see a new logo appear for taxi-industry nemesis extraordinaire, Uber.  The change was announced on 2 February with an explanation on the Uber website (here) that talks about the importance of bits (ones and zeros – the digital stuff of life) and atoms (the physical stuff of life).  

The change has been highly criticised online – seems everyone’s a critic when it comes to new logos… including us.  But we like to think our condemnation has more to do with strategic reasoning rather than just pure emotion (though we know emotion is incredibly important when it comes to strong brands of course). 

Here’s 3 reasons why we aren’t fans of the new Uber logo:

1.     It’s too soon.  Roy Morgan just released data showing only 5.1% of Australians rode with Uber in the past 3 months, with almost 3 in 4 (73%) of them being 18-34 year olds. Since there are about 5.4 million people ages 18-34 in Australia, that means only 13% of them have taken up the service.  The video talks about the future of Uber going into food delivery (UberEATS) and parcel delivery (UberRUSH) --- and we applaud those grand plans --- but it makes more sense to have a deeper penetration and understanding of the brand and service as it stands today before messing with the logo.

2.     It’s lost some flavour and distinction.  The beauty of the old logo was it immediately conjured up the brand name.  The new logo could be for anything (personally we see a record player --- a more analog technology than digital).  The brand promise of “everyone’s private driver” also felt more appropriate with the black/silver logo which reminded us of black town cars and limousines and had more prestige to it (even if the driver shows up in a bright blue Hyundai i30).  

3.  It's inconsistent.  They mention that the look and feel will change depending on which country you're in:   "The team has spent months researching architecture, textiles, scenery, art, fashion, people and more to come up with authentic identities for the countries where Uber operates."  Again, the whole point of a brand identity is to be a shortcut for recognising and attaching meaning to a brand --- by having a different looking logo every time we land in a new country (and we'd like to believe Uber users are well-travelled) seems to make it harder on the user, not easier.  We'd rather they leave the local market acculturation job to the driver rather than the logo.

For these reasons, plus an underwhelming response to the visual itself, we have to rate one of our favourite brands as BADvertising when it comes to the new logo.  We'll still take you anywhere Uber... it just might be harder to spot you amongst our 73 apps after a big night out.     

You can watch the brand video here.      

Posted on February 16, 2016 and filed under BADvertising.