The Internet is abuzz with news that Uber has changed its logo. The unicorn startup that started a global disruption of the personal transportation sector wants to prepare itself to brand future product line expansions.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick explains it this way:
“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 the Uber logo has been transformed from this:
Twitter is often a quick way to get a pulse reading on things. Folks there don’t seem to care for Uber’s new logo.
It’s a precarious balance. The objective of a company logo is to become the one constant image we associate with its brand. Nike has the swoosh. Apple’s got…you know what they’ve got.
Uber had the U. Now they have what a growing number of people say resembles Pac-Man.
Here’s the thing.
When we see the Nike or Apple logo, it’s a connector. It’s a unique, universal signal to our brain to bring on all of the experiences we’ve had with those brands. We connect the swoosh to a worldview of personal improvement. We connect the piece of fruit with a bite out of it with a worldview of personal productivity.
That swoosh and piece of fruit didn’t have an instant connection with these worldviews in our minds. We had to experience the result of using the products. We created the association over time.
A piece of fruit connects us to our experience with powerful, elegant electronic computing devices. A swoosh connects us to our experience with quality athletic apparel. Those logos could have started out as anything. Apple and Nike didn’t set out to create a logo for us. That is not their product. It’s a single picture that tells a whole story.
Apple and Nike know they don’t own their brand. Their customers do. It exists in our minds. What they do own is the ability to give us a unique associator that reignites our recollection of the relationship with their products.
This new Uber logo has a bit of work to do. It must become the unique, universal signal to our brains that connects the experience we have with Uber.
We own Uber’s brand. We create it from the experiences we have with their products and services. The only thing Uber owns is the logo. Our associative connection with the old Uber logo will fade. It will be replaced by this new one. Uber’s only goal must be to provide us with the experiences to make the connection. The new Uber logo won’t decide the company’s success or failure. Their actions will.
Shell started out as a company in 1900. They’ve changed their logo 10 times. Volkswagen has been around since 1939. They’ve changed their logo 7 times. Between 1898 and 1998, Pepsi changed their logo 9 times. Coke has changed theirs 10 times since they started up in 1886. The relatively young Walmart has already changed their logo 6 times in its 54-year history.
The logo changes didn’t alter our relationships with these companies. The only thing we did was update a recognition pattern in our brains to reassociate our experiences.
By the way, Nike and Apple have both changed their logos three times.
So sayeth the StickMonkey.