The Missing Element in Uber’s Logo Redesign

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What’s round and hexagonal in teal and maroon? Definitely not Uber app’s logo, or is it?


When Uber launched its new logo – circular for riders and hexagon app icons for partners – I bet it didn’t expect such negative responses. Apart from causing confusion for loyal users, it has downright lost its unique “U” (interpret it whichever way you want). Two words come to mind when I first looked at the new Uber app icons – busy, nondescript. And to be honest, I didn’t like it. It seems like I’m not the only one.

Reasons for Redesigning the Logo

There are several reasons why a company needs to redesign its logo which could range from the need to revive a brand, to updating the brand identity to reflect business model, to having a new look that reflects current business philosophy. In the case of Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick has termed it as “we were a fundamentally different company”.

Uber originally was an elite ride booking app. Today, the company is no longer catering to a group of wealthy individuals but rather has become a network of transportation in 400 cities in 65 countries. In this context, it makes sense to redesign a logo to reflect an evolved and matured business model.

Concept Behind Uber’s Logo Design

Thus began the process of redesigning an iconic brand identity. Kalanick had become so involved that some may say he’d micromanaged the whole redesigning process. Nevertheless, to his credit he studied colors, design elements, textures, cultures etc. and has been able to transcribe them into his company’s new logo:

“The old Uber was black and white, somewhat distant and cold. This belied what Uber actually is—a transportation network, woven into the fabric of cities and how they move. To bring out this human side—the atoms—we’ve added color and patterns. 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.” – Travis Kalanick

Study the new logo in their constituents, and you’ll notice that Kalanick has nailed logo designing to the “T” if nothing else.

✔ An iconic logo that reflects the two aspects of the business, riders and partners – check
✔ A scalable logo that can be used in large or small branding spaces – check
✔ A sophisticated color to reflect the company’s business – check
✔ A pattern that resonates the company’s culture and environment – check
✔ A graphic logo that reflect current design trends – check

Given these elements being in place, Kalanick seemed to have gotten the perfect logo redesigned.

What’s Missing in Uber’s Logo?

So what’s missing in Uber’s logo and why don’t we like it?

While Kalanick and his design team may have nailed the concepts behind redesigning a perfect brand identity, there are a few things missing.

Creating an iconic logo that stands the test of time is difficult; and may even bite back if not done correctly. Examples such as Airbnb, Medium, Merck, and Google comes to mind. It’s the reason why most companies, large and small, hesitate to change their brand identities even when these brands ought to redesign their logos. Those which are brave enough, like Uber, change their logos because they feel they ought to stay current; to improve their brand’s look; and impress their current and new target audience. In this context Uber may have “missed” the mark.

Uber’s redesigned logo just shows that a technically sound logo doesn’t necessarily “click” with the audience. The element of “appeal” may have been missed in this case, and hence hasn’t impressed much.

Moreover, while the pattern denotes the network of transportation, the iconic “U” which makes Uber stands out from the crowd shouldn’t have been dropped. Instead, it’s been replaced by a suspiciously flipped “C” (the riders app icon). So there you have it – a recipe for a disastrous logo redesign.

Do you want great a new brand identity? Get a custom logo redesign.

Update 14/09/2018

What’d we miss?

Two years after the logo redesign, Uber has revealed yet another brand design and we hope they stick with this one. They’ve even got a new custom typeface called Uber Move for the wordmark logo, which is of course minimal like many other redesigns these days.

Image Source: Uber Design
Well, no offense but the letter “U” seems rather awkward especially because it is (the only one) capitalized and perhaps we were accustomed to seeing the brand name in all caps. Uber has spent over nine months on the new design in an attempt to convince people that it’s changed both as a brand and as a company.

Explore: Timeless Wordmark Logos And Their Story Of Success

The Uber typeface draws a subtle connection between the letters and roads. With the new design, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO, wants to emphasize that the brand is a “mobility platform” and it’s not limited to car hailing. Sasha Lekach of Mashable reports that the company wants to be the “Amazon of transportation”. We’ll just have to wait to see this happen.

Image Source: Uber

While Uber wants to uplift its reputation, it came as a surprise (really) that the brand decided to visually transform again. To an extent, this shows the shaky decision-making ability of the company, the fact that it remained undecided for long. We’d love to see how they defend their logo design this time; considering it was a disaster last time.

What do you think about this indecisive nature of the brand?

Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design.

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