Crucial Lessons from the Failed Uber Logo Redesign
Now that the dust on the terrible Uber logo redesign is slowly settling, and the commentary is also dying, it would be prudent to look back and see what lessons can be learned from the failed rebranding effort. The question that begs then is what went wrong? To begin with, even before exploring the choice of fonts, color, and the design, there is just too much that can be pointed out about the overall rebranding strategy adopted by the company.
Operationally, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park to implement the rebrand worldwide simultaneously. Anyone with slight knowledge of international business or an idea about creating and building brands, they will agree that it is a nightmare to get various subgroups and branches to use just a new logo or a standardized version with one color palette. The strategy adopted by Uber, therefore, was not going to be feasible if they didn’t have the ability to consistently and accurately have the design implemented in the more than 60 countries where their services are available.
The second conspicuous problem with the rebranding strategy adopted by Uber is that they decided to throw away their visual equity, yet this is something that most brands would kill for to establish. By doing away with the old brand, the company severed the link between the old company name and one of its most recognizable visual assets in the world. The new Uber logo just sparked controversy.
Initially, they had a sleek gray writing against a black background, and this suggested luxury and modernity, which Uber became known for. But in the present times where mobile apps are ubiquitous, having a close identification such as the Uber’s U is considered to be immensely valuable. Why would a company cede such a valuable visual asset in the name of creating a new identity?
But the conspicuous absence of a lack of story behind Uber’s rebranding is perhaps their greatest undoing in their latest attempt to change their brand identity. Design elements have always been vital components for any rebrand, but they will amount to nothing if there is no story behind them.
For instance, Google’s Alphabet rebrand had a succinct, logical and satisfying explanation and that was that the company no longer does search anymore. They offer a wide variety of services. But such a narrative was not present the Uber logo redesign. The company is in a state of transition as they want to be seen as more than just a cab hailing service, but this was reflected nowhere on the rebranding strategy neither did they give any explanation relating to it.
Suppose a new purpose, vision or story were communicated clearly on the rebrand, all the complaints arising from specific elements would have all toned down to preferences. These leave the question begging: Does Uber have an idea where it is headed as a company or the kind of company it wishes to be?
It is, therefore, a fact that Uber made glaring mistakes in their failed branding strategy. The rebranding was not only premature but lacked the necessary planning and coordination needed to conduct a successful rebranding in multiple countries. But these kinds of challenges are a common occurrence for companies that are still in the transition state. Here are a few other vital lessons companies can borrow from the failed rebranding by Uber-:
Admit your mistakes and chart the way forward
Mistakes will always occur since no brand is perfect. If you find yourself in a similar situation like Uber, do the honorable thing of admitting your mistakes. Be ready to accept what you think went wrong, address any issues by customers and investors and immediately embark on a plan to move forward.
Consult outside sources
The failed Uber logo was done in-house. This is now what is referred to in the corporate world as “Steve Jobs Syndrome”. It is when startup founders believe that they should make all the decisions and never outsource anything from outside. However, there was only one Steve Jobs, and you have to seek expert advice if you want to move your business forward in a professional manner.
Don’t make a complete 180 turn, but go with strategic changes
Rather than trying to erase your mistakes and pretend that nothing bad happened, look for feasible ways you can use to move forward. This might imply that you exercise a lot of caution with the present mistake, make careful corrections and simply be ready to take up the challenge to continue working on your brand and make it stronger.
Engage the employees when rebranding
Most Uber employees and drivers were never aware of the rebranding or change to the Uber logo. They knew nothing about it and were equally surprised like the customers. Uber thus missed an opportunity to engage their employees and customers which would have become very good brand ambassadors if they were part of the process right from the start.