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The Interesting Thing About The Uber "Logo"

almost 5 years ago from , Creator at Sidebar

When I heard there was controversy about the "new Uber logo" I went to Uber.com, and couldn't see anything even remotely controversial about their new wordmark. I then looked up the press release, and still couldn't understand what the fuss was about.

It's only after googling "new Uber logo" and skimming through a couple blog posts that I understood: people were complaining about the app icon, not the logo!

Why is this important? Because it illustrates that the thing Uber users relate to is not the logo, but the icon of the app that lives inside their pocket. In other words, the logo is not the brand anymore, the icon is the brand.

As someone who doesn't use Uber (I never got past the "verify your phone number" stage inside the app) this wasn't obvious to me.

And I suspect it wasn't obvious to Uber's branding team either, otherwise they wouldn't have made the new icon announcement a footnote of their press release.

The lesson here is: your brand is however your users relate to you, not what your branding team says it is. So the interesting thing about the new Uber logo is that it's not a logo at all!

21 comments

  • Colm TuiteColm Tuite, almost 5 years ago

    I'll always remember Marty Neumeier's definition from one of his books - "A brand is an intangible perception, held by the consumer, about a product or service".

    13 points
  • Dan Charlesworth, almost 5 years ago

    I use Uber (pretty rarely) but I'm having trouble understanding this idea of an icon needing to be "relatable". I feel like all an icon really needs to be is distinct enough that I can find it on my iPhone screen without too much trouble.

    When I think of everything I love about Uber the icon might be the very last item on the list.

    This whole controversy has me scratching my head a bit.

    5 points
    • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, almost 5 years ago

      Because if you can't remember what a fairly arbitrary icon looks like, you'll go looking for something resembling the name or brand.

      I'd say the icon is there to help users identify your app; therefore it should be part of your brand's identity.

      1 point
      • Kyle ConradKyle Conrad, almost 5 years ago

        I do wonder how many people locate apps via the icon vs the actual placement on their phone - for example, my mom has like 100 apps on her phone, but she tends to open the same ones every time without looking at them because of where she has placed them on her grid. I know exactly where Google Maps is, even though the icon looks just like Apple Maps, because of its placement on my grid.

        3 points
        • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, almost 5 years ago

          Oh muscle memory is definitely a factor for everyone, to varying degrees. But it takes learning, and just deleting one app can shift the screen's arrangement and jeopardise your sense of geography.

          2 points
  • Kyle GillenKyle Gillen, almost 5 years ago

    From their press release:

    A new app icon One of the big changes over the years is that Uber no longer moves just people; we’re now moving food, goods, and soon maybe much more. With the potential for many apps with many app icons, we needed one approach that connected them all. So we came back to our story of bits and atoms. You’ll see that both rider and driver icons have the bit at the center, and then the local colors and patterns in the background. This is a framework that will also make it easy to develop different icons for new products over time.

    Perhaps it makes more sense when seen in the above context, alongside their potential future apps:

    Rider AppPartner App

    Personally, I think it's great and a very needed move. Like Google becoming a branch of Alphabet, Uber needs to start separating the brand from the product. Granted, Google did it in reverse which was also an option, but Uber has the luxury of not being as monolithic as Google, so they can make a bold move like this.

    The app you have on your springboard is no longer the 'Uber' app. It's the 'Rider' app provided by 'Uber'. It's distinct enough to stand on its own, and the more I look at it - alongside the partner app - the more thought-provoking it becomes. At some point there'll be the 'Food Delivery' app, the 'Package Delivery' app etc. all products by 'Uber', no longer just, the Uber app.

    In closing, time heals all. Give it a week, the initial disruption will have been acquiesced & our remarkable ability as humans to subconsciously adjust our habits will have taken in earnest... or not.

    3 points
  • Account deleted almost 5 years ago

    Let's be honest. People tend to hate change... especially designers... but as a whole change is a disruptive event.

    When car is redesigned, a significant potion of people will seek out the old model year because they think the new design is uglier. When Airbnb rebranded people went NUTS, maybe even nuttier than this whole Uber business.

    In the long run, in our insanely changing world, it's almost hard to really fail. People may get heated and stomp, but in the end... it's not bad at all. Just like Airbnb being absolutely fine a year+ past the rebrand... and people eventually loving the new car design ("the old one just feels so dated")... it's really super hard to mess up the long-game if you are confident in your execution... and stand by it.

    We are not talking Coke here - with nearly 100 years of brand/taste equity built. This is a product that didn't even exist a few short years ago.

    3 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    Sascha, spot on. Very important catch.

    Honestly, not to drop politics, but you know what my first thought was when I saw the new app icon.

    Donald Trumps puckered up... Mmmm - mouth.

    Image alt

    A lot of hubris, hot air and not really listening.

    Further - I almost had mistaken it for my Chase banking app, which has a similar graphic form and same(ish) color story, at least depending on the light.

    Having such a distributed, disjointed and juxtaposed identity seems like a mistake.

    It could present challenges, especially for those that often do international travel. Uber may be harder to recognize for some (in particular with out of home advertising campaigns) - as they execute in various markets with all this different branding.

    BTW - I'm sharing an office with Dan C. We have to lure you here to Saigon.

    3 points
    • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, almost 5 years ago

      I'm sharing an office with Dan C. We have to lure you here to Saigon.

      Do you guys work for/run local companies, or freelance internationally?

      0 points
      • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 5 years ago

        Dan has a dev company and I have a small company doing UX/ UI work. Customers for us tend to be across the board. Some of mine are in the US, some are here in Southeast Asia (wrapped up a project with a VC firm here in Vietnam on a new digital bank recently) - and I also have equity (lottery tickets) floating in some companies that may or may not pay off.

        0 points
    • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, almost 5 years ago

      BTW - I'm sharing an office with Dan C. We have to lure you here to Saigon.

      Would love to come one of these days!

      1 point
  • Jocelyn Richard, almost 5 years ago

    It illustrates that the thing Uber users relate to is not the logo, but the icon of the app that lives inside their pocket. In other words, the logo is not the brand anymore, the icon is the brand.

    A keen description of the modern state of things, thank you; it sounds obvious now that I've read it. I wonder how the app-icon-before-regular-logo will impact branding systems going forward, beyond just shifting resources.

    1 point
  • Darren AlawiDarren Alawi, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    There's so much being said which is always awesome for our industry!

    Because of that I'm going to try and express my thoughts in a series of questions:

    Should they have kept the U on the icon? Yes. Is the new logo an improvement? Yes. Is the execution high quality? Yes.

    Did they need to involve Bits and Atoms? HELL NO.

    Why? Because the context is a million miles off. (Even I included context).

    0 points
  • Chong GuoChong Guo, almost 5 years ago

    https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zhihu.com%2Fquestion%2F40087499&edit-text=&act=url This is a translated version of a Chinese Quora. Basically, a lot of users found problem in finding UBER.

    0 points
  • Tyrale BloomfieldTyrale Bloomfield, almost 5 years ago

    I think this is very well said. I agree that brands are what people identify with. Who knew Domino's had to make a big deal about dropping "pizza" from their name. In the minds of everyone it already was gone.

    Thanks for the observation.

    0 points
  • Kushtrim XhaferiKushtrim Xhaferi, almost 5 years ago

    The lesson here is: your brand is however your users relate to you, not what your branding team says it is. So the interesting thing about the new Uber logo is that it's not a logo at all!

    only if your brand managing team or branding strategy is weak. i think it is a stupid idea to have different branding languages for the logo and the app icon.

    0 points
    • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, almost 5 years ago

      Actually there's a good reason for the app icon being different from the brand: the Uber services most people know is only one of many such services that make up Uber the company as a whole. As Uber expands into new markets, they don't want to be pigeon-holed into a single use case by their brand.

      6 points
      • Kushtrim XhaferiKushtrim Xhaferi, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

        i agree with you about the different services, but if you make it to different, than you loose the brand. thats what happend in this case, the app icon replaced the UBER logo (from the userview). the main reason is that UBER as brand was visually not strong enough. (pitty for the beautiful new UBER lettermark).

        0 points
  • Harvey Enrile, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    yes, i was so used to the old Uber logo and where the app icon was placed that whenever i want to get an uber i know it's at that same place, the U in uber is what stands out and i don't really have to think about it.

    0 points
    • Corey GinnivanCorey Ginnivan, almost 5 years ago

      The switch to a darker background with a lighter circle makes me feel like it's in a constant updating state when scanning through my phone. Have to stop and think about tapping on it now.

      0 points