In the past month my use of Uber has increased dramatically. Through emails and social media I have noticed a lot of things about their marketing and business strategies. In my search for articles I came across this one and was quite interested. Rebranding has always sparked my interest and I hoped it would bring some good information about the company. It’s also a Wired article so I knew it would be good.
On January 2, 2016, Jessi Hempel reported the news about Uber’s rebranding to Wired Magazine. She interviewed with founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick in the days leading up to the launch, as he expressed his worry but excitement about what was to come. “Uber hopes to develop a more flexible brand that can grow with the company as it develops new products and attracts new customers” (Hempel). One of the first things Uber tackled was their logo. It is now specified with separate driver-user icons as well as different colors for countries. My new app icon now looks like this, compared to the previous black and white logo.
This alone makes the app and the business more attractive, featuring bright colors to capture users interest. This really intrigues me because when I look at the old app icon I think, “black and white, classy, high-end”, the complete opposite of what I view above. While reading through the article I came across a quote by the CEO stating, “The early app was an attempt at something luxury, that’s where we came from, but it’s not where we are today.” I was right on the money. Just by changing their logo, Uber is already appealing to a much larger audience.
I really enjoy the fact that Kalanick didn’t hire a branding agency like most CEO’s would do. Instead, for the past three years he’s worked alongside Shalin Amin and a dozen or so others. Amin is the Uber design director in control of what they call the War Room. Here Kalanick made a huge effort to learn all about the design process. I got a sense that this was quite personal to him and by reading on I figured out why. Kalanick took this as an opportunity to define himself alongside his company that he started. “When you don’t really know who you are, he says, it’s easy to be miscast- as a company, or as a person.”
Amin and Kalanick used card sorting to articulate new company principles in order to help their rebranding. I thought this was interesting because it wasn’t like the typical card sorting I’ve learned about. With that, they came up with 5 core principles; grounded, populist, inspiring, highly evolved, and elevated. Another technique I recognized was the use of mood boards. In the War Room they mocked up mood boards for the individual cities, regions and countries, piecing together images representing architecture, textiles, fashion, and art, among other things. Thanks to these mood boards the redesign launch offered 65 country specific color and pattern palettes and five global ones. This idea in general is incredible to me. I would of loved to be a part of this research process because I think it would be so interesting getting to find out about what brings each country its own warmth and meaning.
“The warmth, the colors, those things…that happens, when you start to know who you are.” This is a great last point to consider when thinking about rebranding your company. The beauty really comes together only when you find the deepest and truest parts of yourself.