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The rebrand: epic win or Uber fail?

By Sophie Bride

The latest in a list of high-profile groundbreaking brands, Uber follows Google and Airbnb into the risky world of rebrands.

The Uber taxi network has sprawled from a single city to an incredible 400 cities in 65 countries, and the brand depends on its users hanging their trust in the service. So shaking off the previous cold and distant brand, and expanding to something friendlier, flexible and forward thinking is a wise move to make.

“The new brand is said to be a reflection of Uber’s culture”

Their brand launch reveals how a combination of ‘bits and atoms’ forms the basis of the new Uber brand, and is said to be a reflection of Uber’s culture. The ‘bits’ represent the technology and efficiency within their vital software, and ‘atoms’ represent the people it serves.

Through a long in-house rebranding process they’ve tweaked the logo, overhauled the website, and created a series of brand assets – such as unique colour palettes and geometric patterns – to reflect the users’ locations.

“Behind the slick videos and articles, what do we think?”

News like this will always become the hot topic in an agency like Omobono. So behind the slick launch videos and articles, what do we think of the rebrand?

Dan Simmonds, a designer in our Bristol office, was won over by the idea. “The notion of shaking off the previous cold and distant brand, which would only strike a chord with a select few, to something more personalized and friendly is a great one”.

Adam Healy, a Senior Designer in Bristol, liked the emotional pull too. “It’s becoming more and more popular to get emotion ‘baked-in’ to brands. Uber are just doing the same thing.”

Laura Snell, a Devon-based designer for Omobono, was a little more skeptical. “On first view of the marketing video I must admit that I thought that the ‘atoms and bits’ reference was a bit of a stretch for what is essentially a taxi app.”

However when Laura delved a little deeper, she felt differently. “Having seen the way the designers have taken what was a slick, black and white brand and transformed it into a far more textural and culturally rich experience I am going back on my first impressions,” she says.

“It feels like they’ve given the brand more space to breathe and adapt”

“What they have achieved is something quite special. It reflects how they have grown and provides them with room to evolve in the future. They say, “This updated design reflects where we’ve been, and where we’re headed.” and I think this rings true. It feels like they’ve given the brand more space to breathe and adapt across the increasing number of product offerings that they have, she concludes.

“What impact has the rebrand had on the app itself?”

So despite some initial reservations and skepticism (some would say a designer’s natural state of mind), the thinking behind the rebrand has impressed, and the website and promo materials have certainly been crafted.

But what impact has the rebrand had on the actual app itself? After all, it’s the key touchpoint for the brand, as most users will only go to the app store and use the app. Dan was underwhelmed. “I saw a warping geometric green pattern combined with the circular rider icon. That is where the new brand visibility ended. The app seems marginally different to the previous version.”

“The inherent individual personality has fallen by the wayside”

“I think the execution is somewhat confusing,” Dan continues. “The ‘Uber’ or ‘U’ mark on the app icons has been replaced with the scientific looking patterns. I feel the technology angle of the rebrand is clearly defined and present. But the people, and inherent individual personality has fallen by the wayside.”

“The brand ‘piece’ in itself is impressive,” says Laura, “but there are very few examples of where it has been implemented. I’d like to see more activity that really pushes this personal angle.”

“Yes,” agrees Dan, “the reasons for the rebrand are structurally sound and inspiring, but I believe they haven’t quite achieved what they set out to, yet.”

So we all agree it’s early days for Uber’s rebrand, and we’re willing to see how the designs evolve. And – vitally – if they can get that sense of ‘people’ through to the app. Then they’d really be driving the message home.

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