Uber’s new brand identity: What can Indian start-ups learn?

uber new

 

Uber has unveiled its new brand identity, brand adaptations and rebranding process along with its brand strategy aligned its company vision here. There has been various opinions and analysis of the new identity which covers the logo form, typography, brand adaptations including my design team and friends who have a diverse take on the logo. Although I personally think the logo could have been better but I’m sure designers will have various interpretations of how the new logo could have been better or a completely new way of imagining Uber identity.

But I will focus on the strategic angle of the good and the scepticism part of Uber’s new brand identity and what could Indian start-ups learn from it.

The good part of the Uber rebranding and what we could learn from it:

 

  1.   The founder & CEO, Travis Kalanick was involved with Uber design team at a deeper level of what makes a brand identity and went through a fair iterative process which very few start-up founders understand. He stuck to the process, good or bad, and this also reflects the CEO’s brand culture

“design is an integral and iterative process for Uber as a company”

Indian start-ups need to internalise their process in their company. I don’t mean or think that start-up founders in India should be involved in a similar process like Kalanick but at least encourage that within the company, brand/ design team and their creative agencies.

2.   The brand logo might be few concerns but the brand adaptations and extensions are correct, bang on especially for a global company which wants to bring a local flavour but retain the tech feel of the global company. Yes, it is simplistic, maybe even a “reductionist” approach but it is still the right path. They have standardized the main brand logo and added layers to the identity for local adaptation and extension. I like the new Uber typography, definitely better than the old identity. Indian start-ups should take note of the Uber brand evolution that wants to go global. Or within India, if an Indian start-up wants to have regional (or state-wise) brand extensions and adaptations, this might be a cue (although you need to be careful why would you extend it and not at the cost of brand dilution). Brand adaptations, standardising the main brand identity, brand extensions and brand evolutions are important steps for quality brand building exercise for a growing start-up.

Uber India brand adaptation

Uber India brand adaptation

 

3.  They have tried to connect the dots of their rebranding process on Uber website, from the company vision, its brand strategy to new identity and brand adaptations. It clearly articulates its brand story. Many Indian start-ups failed to do this exercise in a creative yet consistent way. It’s generally all over the place for the customer to ignore or figure out.

 

4.  How Uber successfully execute this new identity across geographies would be interesting to watch. I do hope they allow local teams more flexibility to extend the local brand adaptation more creatively as it currently lacks imagination, especially in India. If it is too rigid then it might be boring or less creative for local customers, but not too flexible to dilute or hurt the global brand standardization process. I liked the inside story of Uber rebranding. The brand journey for Uber has just begun.

 

The skepticism part of Uber rebranding exercise:

 

  1. I do agree that logo form could have been better; especially retaining the “U” identity. But this was an Uber decision in branding – Shall we focus on the form (they talk about dots, atoms & chips, technology cutting cities across the world), conceptual part of the brand? Or the brand name, Uber (phonetical aspect is important to) and “U” identity? As a customer I will remember “U” with Uber rather than a chip form as people tends to remember sounds with alphabets more easily than a shape like new Uber form which is a bit generic. Indian start-ups need to recognise such iterative processes are important decisions that build a strong brand. Start-up teams need to understand the nuances of brand identity and be able to visualise its potential scope of marketing and communication.

 

2.  I find a lack of emotional connect with the Uber brand and its communication. It lacks the tactile, warmth and emotional design in its brand communication since the old and new brand identity. Although the brand story talks about people centric service, the joys of transportation, convenience but it seems superfluous, not translated in their communication material, no customer call service, mobile app design and their customer emailers. They are still cold, tech infographics and clinical. I see a disconnect, words are not enough, it needs to be intuitive. Indian start-ups catering do understand to an extent that Indian consumers thrive on the emotional connect as much as the transactional connect. It’s what brand loyalty is built on, a hook of human emotion that makes a brand relatable.

 

I think this is probably the first global start up that has shared a cohesive brand story and process of rebranding unlike Airbnb or in India, Flipkart. Indian start-ups can definitely learn and take cues from Uber’s rebranding exercise. Brand building is a critical, intense process and asset building exercise for every Indian start-up that is serious about brand loyalty, customer engagement and business growth.

 

Uber should now step up their brand story by effectively implement this locally in each market. Uber could focus on making the customer’s travel experience and other brand interactions warmer, tactile, personalised that builds brand loyalty and trust towards Uber. I’m excited and look forward to how can Uber can “walk the talk” of brand experience that is more people centric.