Why Uber’s new logo isn’t exactly an upgrade

How the new and former logo perform on Paul Rand’s logo test.

Uber changed it’s logo a few days ago as part of a rebranding strategy which aims to take the company away from the original black, gray and blue logo to one with more brighter patterns and colors (a lot of them). You can read the behind the scenes story about how the new logo was made on this article from wired.

It was rare to find someone who actually like the logo. Some users were confused, Uber’s head of design also quit unexpectedly a few days later and many had already declared it a failure.

This brutally honest tweet summed up the popular opinion.

No one intends bad design, so I decided to look deeper into what problems did the new logo solve (and which problems did it introduce) by making the former and present logo face the 7 step Paul Rand logo test. This is a test to see how good is your logo by the legendary Paul Rand and this article on Medium has all you need to know about it.

The principal role of a logo is to identify, and simplicity is its means. Its effectiveness depends on distinctiveness, visibility, adaptability, memorability, universality, and timelessness.

Let's see how the former and current logo perform with respect to the factors mentioned by Paul Rand.

The old logo
The new logo

1. Is It Distinctive?

Distinctive means unique and different from everything else. It stands out among the crowd and isn’t easily confused with others.

The old logo is unique and does stand out in a crowd. The colors used have a more professional and serious tone. Overall the logo has more of a corporate feel to it.

State bank of India(left) is the largest bank in India and Zomato(right) is a very popular Indian brand which recently updated its logo.

The new logo does poorly to distinguish itself from other prominent logos. The logo resembles two large Indian brands significantly, which can be an issue for Uber distinguishing itself in a competitive market.

Neither of the logos convey a lot about Uber. The new logo is said to represent ‘bits and atoms’ but it is far from what their users currently view them as.

Old logo — 7/10 New logo — 4/10

2. Is It Visible?

Visible means noticeable or easily seen.

The old logo has distinctive strong lines for the ‘U’ and can also be used by inverting the colors depending on the background.

The new logo does well it adapting to different backgrounds. The circular white portion in the middle covered by a darker shade provide the contrast for the logo to be visible, but the subtle lines on the side are hard to spot on background colors with a deep green-blue texture.

Old logo — 7/10 New logo — 6/10

3. Is It Adaptable?

Adaptability means that it works across numerous applications — on a t-shirt, on a cup, online, on a truck, on a road sign. Both the logos are square, making them adaptable and can serve as mobile icons and favicons as well.

The new logo here possess an advantage as it can adapt to any dimension by extending the pattern at the back while keeping the central white symbol fixed.

Old logo — 7/10 New logo — 8/10

4. Is It Memorable?

The goal of a logo is to be unforgettable — so that when a person feels the need your business solves, your logo comes to immediately mind.

What is the first thing which comes to your mind when you see these?

The MLB and NBA have logos which are easily memorable

Does any of the two Uber logos have that effect? NO.

The older logo does not convey anything about transport but it does give a hint of what the company’s name begins with [U], leading you to recognize Uber by it’s name but not by what it does.

The new logo fails to convey connectivity. As much as Uber has tried, people do not see them as bits and atoms of connectivity and the new logo falls awfully short of being memorable.

Old logo — 4/10 New logo — 1/10

5. Is It Universal?

A universal logo carries a consistent meaning to a diverse range of people. This is possibly the most difficult part in creating a logo because everyone is different.

The old logo here definitely posed a big problem as the ‘U’ in the logo made no sense for the non-english speaking users and didn’t exactly convey ‘Everyone’s private driver’. The dark colors also didn’t help.

The new logo boasts of addressing this issue, Uber says they are now a transportation company. It talks about using country specific patterns and colors based on the user's input and so that the people of the country identify with the brand.

So I took all of Uber’s new patterns and asked a dozen people, which pattern would they associate with India? None could tell which pattern was derived from India. They just viewed it as random patterns and could not associate any country with any pattern. I don’t know how universal the other patterns are but associating 1.2 billion people with one pattern is foolish move.

Uber’s researched pattern and color palette for India

Old logo — 3/10 New logo — 6/10

6. Is It Timeless?

The old logo isn’t a timeless beauty. The font used has increased width and has the flashy horizontal lines at the top of the ‘U’. It is rounded and not sharp enough.

The new logo is not flashy but the lines drawn at the back do seem a bit over the top. With most of the lines being curved and only rounded corners used the new logo is also something which won’t dovetail with changing design trends.

Old logo — 5/10 New logo — 5/10

7. Is It Simple?

A logo cannot survive unless it is designed with the utmost simplicity and restraint. — Paul Rand

This article mentions two ways to know if your logo is simple —

  1. Shrink it down and then blow it up. The appearance and design of a strong logo will be legible and pleasing regardless of its size.
  2. Draw it by hand in ten seconds with a pencil. If you can do this easily, then you have a simple logo.

Because simplicity is the primary factor, it is rated on a scale of 1 to 15.

The old logo is comprehensible and conveys the ‘U inside a box’ message irrespective of size. One can draw it after taking just one look under ten seconds.

When viewing the small sized version of the new logo one does not notice the lines at the back. When enlarged the lines are more easily visible helping one make more sense of the logo. Drawing the logo was a challenge. Three references had to be made and it took around a minute.

Old logo — 11/15 New logo — 6/15

Total

The old logo had an aggregate score of 44 and the new one lagging behind at 36. A company like Uber could certainly do better. Specially when you consider the resources it has at its disposal.

Final verdict: The new logo was not an upgrade

The company is doing great and no one should expect users to abandon them just because they do not like the logo. But the brand of the company does take a hit when called upon to stand out in a crowd with this strategy.

If you have used the updated app, the new logo also increases the loading time of the app. Where the extra time is used to display the logo.


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