On the 2nd of February 2016, Uber users had to face a considerable change of the app interface. The “cold and distant” (Kalanick T., 2016) U, turned into a colourful and enigmatic design, which embodies the new company’s driven-concept: the “bits and atoms”. The change happened with no notice on each rider and partner’s devices display. Apparently the logo regeneration has brought a media storm against the company. Many people consider it worthless and nonsense, a random change brought from the company inside.
From the duo-chrome black and white logo, Uber coined its new identity with colours which vary from country to country and a reversed “C” (the atom) with a square shaped counter (the bit). Many voices from the audience have critiqued the design choice stating that it does not relate to the company’s services and scope, which is the democratisation of luxury – “Everyone’s Private Driver” (Moazed A. 2015).
However, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO and Co- Founder, explain the company’s choice: “We exist in the place where bits and atoms come together. That is Uber. We are not just technology but technology that moves cities and their citizens.” The new logo expresses the company’s evolution – Uber is no longer a service with 100 black cabs functioning in San Francisco, but a leading transport company which operates on a planetary level and provides millions of vacancies and affordable rides at any time, to anyone.
Adapting the logo to the cultural features of each country where the app is used is likely considered as an act of further democratisation, though. Uber’s total users’ culture understanding is a rapid innovation which could be of a great impact on future adopters. The history of logos demonstrates how their changes can increase the number of consumers. Uber similar accommodation service Airbnb, significantly changed his logo and its design was likewise criticised in 2014. As Uber’s new logo has been compared with an anus, the Airbnb one was subjected to amateur variations which compared its silhouette to genitals. Airbnb took advantage of the circumstances and asked the net to reinterpret the logo, gaining thus publicity and new users. On July 2015, the company has reached the number of 600000 hosts and over 50ml users, demonstrating that a well-thought change of the logo and strategy do not decrease the number of users.
However, neurological studies assert that the image of a brand influences our choices of preference on a physiological level. Few unidentifiable sample of different colas were given to 67 volunteers while their brains were scanned throughout the consumption. In this case, there was no identification of preference amongst the Colas – the afflux of blood pressure into each volunteers’ brain was equal in the total area of it during ingestion. While, when volunteers were aware of a brand, the blood pressure in their brains was different amongst distinct regions. The researchers discovered no influence of brand knowledge for Pepsi, but a strong influence of the Coke label on behavioural preference. The brand knowledge of Coke both manipulated their inclination towards the latter, and stimulated areas of the brain, including the “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex” and the hippocampus. Both of these areas are implicated in modifying behaviours based on emotion and affect. Those sentiments are transmitted from the identity of a product itself to the individuals’ perceptions through the brand image. People feel confident about buying a product because they are conscious of it. When the logo of it drastically changes, it can affect people’s perception of it, the company and the latter purposes. In fact, loyal costumers are the most inclined to have a negative reaction towards the change of a brand’s logo.
However, the human race is well known to get used to changes. There is no record of a company failure after its logo modification. Several cases can demonstrate it, from Starbuck, Coca-Cola, and Apple. The Airbnb case can also prove this argument.
In a world where globalisation and the implementation of new cultures in societies are taking advantage of the market on a planetary scale, Uber is abusing trends which support this general bias. This utilitarian business is presenting to the public how, through people, it has become the leading transport company of our ages. All the fact reported in this mini-essay could prove that the media storm around Uber re-design was entirely unjustified: with a single click, anyone can verify that Uber is still the first option suggested on any app store.
By Nicole Afonso Alves Calistri, 2016.
Kalanick T., 2016, “Celebrating Cities: A New Look and Feel for Uber”, online source available from https:// newsroom.uber.com/celebrating-cities-a-new-look-and-feel-for-uber/ accessed on 16/02/2016
Moazed A. 2015, “Uber’s Brand Is Failing. Here’s Why “online source available from http://www.inc.com/alex- moazed/uber-s-brand-is-failing-here-s-why.html accessed on 17/02/2016