Uber has spent the past year trying to convince customers that it has put its problematic reputation in the past. And what better way to usher in a new era than with a complete rebrand?
Today, Uber is unveiling an entirely new look that will eventually feature a fresh, custom-made typeface, new colors, a redesigned in-app look including animations and more.
Peter Markatos, Uber’s executive director of brand, said that this rebrand reflects Uber’s transition from “San Francisco startup to a global company,” particularly one that’s become a “platform of mobility.” When work on the project first began nine months ago, he said that the team wasn’t sure if it would pan out to be a full rebrand. But after hours of research and discussion with riders and drivers, Markatos said they decided it was necessary.
“As we expand our reach into our other markets and modalities, it’s super important that it’s very clear that when you’re getting into an Uber car or on an Uber scooter, you know that is an Uber product,” he said. “We weren’t achieving that with our current system.”
To help clear up some of that confusion, the company is doing away with the symbol that’s been featured on its app icon for the past two years. Through the aforementioned internal research, the team discovered that most consumers don’t actually associate the symbol with Uber, and that drivers would even turn around the decal that featured it to the other side, which read “Uber,” so passengers could have an easier time recognizing their cars.
“It doesn’t make sense to build more equity into something that people don’t understand,” Markatos said.
Uber found its strength in three things: Its name, the U and the color black. So in creating a new logo, they leaned into those features. As Markatos said: “We are a household name, why would we go away from that?”
That new logo is a simple wordmark that (naturally) reads “Uber,” with a capital U, in Uber Move, a typeface that was custom-designed for the brand. Previously they’d been using Clan Pro font, which, though they licensed it, they still had to share with other brands that did the same.
For that reason, “it made a lot of sense to create our own typeface,” Markatos said. The sans serif typeface was inspired by other typefaces best associated with transportation, like Johnston, used on the London Underground, or Highway Gothic, used on American road signs. Uber Move is also available in every alphabet that’s used in a city where Uber is present.
A subtle touch in the wordmark that Marakatos said Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wanted to capitalize on? The right side of the capital “U” and the left side of the lowercase “b” in the new wordmark, which appears to look like two lines on a road. When users open the app, the wordmark will slowly disappear until just those two lines remain, opening up to display the map page.
In terms of color, Uber is zeroing in on black and white in its new branding. However, there are several secondary colors, all of which take inspiration from transportation, and feature bold-but-soft hues of purple, green, red, yellow, orange and brown. A bright shade of blue is the “safety color,” inspired by the associations of blue with security in everyday life: The United Nations, for example, as well as the blue safety lights that are omnipresent on college campuses. This blue will feature more heavily in the app, as an accent color.
The hope is that this rebranding will make Uber’s presence is a bit clearer to riders, drivers and potential customers. Uber’s No.1 imperative in the redesign is “seeing Uber and knowing Uber,” Markatos said. “Making sure that when an Uber shows up, then that’s very clear. This has implications when it comes to safety, when it comes to accessibility, so we took this very seriously.”
Uber worked with brand consultancy Wolff Olins and MCKL, a type foundry, throughout the nine-month-long redesign process.
Both worked in conjunction with Uber’s in-house brand team, and Markatos said this teamwork was essential to the success of the rebrand. “There was no way this work was going to make it through the organization with just having an external partner,” he said. “We needed to make sure they were embedded and augmented in the business objectives that we’re all being held accountable for.”
Uber riders will see their apps update to reflect the new logo this week, but the in-app interface and the logo and interface on the drivers’ app won’t be changing just quite yet. With millions of drivers all over the world, rolling out Uber’s new branding to each and every car will take some time.
“This is a dial, not a switch,” Markatos said. “There’s a lot of things we have to go over.”