Have Uber made an arse out of themselves?

Everyone knows Uber, right? They’re that taxi company that pissed off loads of London cabbies and turned regular Joes like you and I into professional taxi drivers. They’ve revolutionised the way we get places, in the sense that we get there in cars driven by people, which actually isn’t that revolutionary at all. But you know, they’ve got an app and that makes them fancier than regular taxis.

Over the last year Uber have gone from being unheard of to being everywhere. On every street, outside every bar and on the pages of every marketing magazine, you’ll find an Uber cab looking clean, fresh and different. You’ll find Uber everywhere you look, because Uber have put themselves there.

They’ve done this by achieving the thing every brand hopes for – stand out. They’ve made themselves different from their competitors, not just by offering a unique approach, but by being totally unique. Unlike other cabs you don’t have to stand in the road and wave one down, and you don’t have to ring a sad sounding woman at 3am and ask for a ride home when you’re too drunk to remember where you are. Instead you just open an app, tap a few buttons and wait. Job done.

Everything was going ever so well for Uber. So well, in fact, that even a London cabbies strike did nothing to slow their momentum. If anything that just gave them some extra PR.

But today something happened that might have just tilted the branding pendulum in the opposite direction: Uber changed their logo.

Oh. No. You. Didn’t.

Now a logo change in itself is not a big deal. People do it all the time, I just did it this morning. People now just call me ‘words’ rather than Ash, and my symbol has changed from my actual face to just a pile of paperwork on my desk. I’m fine with that. My brand strength is powerful enough to see me through this turbulent time.

Uber, on the other hand, is still a brand that is growing. While it might be the next big thing in public transport – according to someone who I can’t be bothered to find a source for – it’s still only young and finding its way. A logo change now is relying on people to find it instantly recognisable, no matter what it looks like. Until now people have seen the Uber name and known what it is, what it stands for, and why it’s good.

After today people won’t be seeing that anymore. People won’t actually be seeing the name at all. Instead, they’ll be seeing this:

Uber's new rider icon (left) and partner icon (right).

The logo on the left is for people looking for a ride. The logo on the right is for Uber’s partners to use. Both come with a problem about recognition – what do either mean? What do either stand for? Could either be for pretty much any company?

But you know, I’m no expert on branding, I’m just a most incredible storyteller no matter what the subject. What I do know, and what several people have already mentioned, is that if you turn the logo on the left anti-clockwise just a little bit, it looks quite a lot like…

Well…

An arse.

Yep, the human anus as if it were bent over and gagging for some attention, which I’m sure several human anuses get plenty of. Good on them. Now that such similarities have been pointed out it could be a challenge for Uber to shake them off, especially if such noted commentators as I make a point of mentioning it.

“How are you getting home?” people will ask.
“Uber,” their friends will reply.
“You’re getting a ride in an arsehole,” the people will joke, if they have as high a level of wit as I.

Sure, it might not catch on at all, it might just pass like all good bum puns too, but this rebrand comes with more problems than just being the but of the joke.

Everyone knows who Uber are, but will they know what this logo is? It’s a ballsy move, one so brave that Uber’s CEO took it upon himself to design without enlisting the help of a team of professional designers.

If it goes right it’s a big thumbs up to the client thinking they know better than the creatives.

If it goes wrong, it could all go arse over tit.

 

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