UBER’s Quiet Rebrand Makes App Icon Harder to Spot

Sometimes companies rebrand themselves with a lot of hoopla and fanfare – as Yahoo did, and the end result was a huge disappointment. So there is merit in doing a rebrand quietly, and that is what UBER opted for. Now the question is whether there was enough reason to do so at all.

Well, in this case I would venture to say no. You see, if a brand has become as ubiquitous as UBER, it is a mistake to rebrand just as they are starting to dominate their industry. People have become accustomed to the brand, and now you go and send the wrong message by telling your users that you are completely changing your presence and expanding in ways that may or may not pay dividends.

Don’t get me wrong – the old logo was nothing special, but it had carved its way into public consciousness. It was easy to spot on a phone screen among the clutter of all the other apps. The new app icon just fails on so many levels. It blends in with the other apps, which makes it super difficult to spot, especially for a ride sharing app which I need NOW.

The old font style was not that great either. It was too thin, and the font and the logo had no correlation. So I commend UBER for trying to address that aspect of their brand.


But to completely ditch the old “U” for this new confused pixel-and-background pattern is just silly. There is no amount of conceptual mumbo-jumbo that can replace a solid icon that is memorable and has proven to work. Now, in the name of internationalization, they have tried to create an icon that is no longer based on an English letter. But it wasn’t necessary – the icon was already memorable and identifiable regardless of the audience’s language.

Based on my 3 decades of experience in this field, there are only two main reasons that a company rebrands:

1. Your brand or company is in trouble and you have an image problem that warrants a change, so you ditch your old “clothes” and reinvent yourself.

2. Your brand has become stale and you are not growing anymore, so now is the time to show the world that new blood is running in your veins and good things are happening.

I’m pretty sure number two does not apply here, because UBER is barely out of the gate. So I’m really questioning whether number one is more in line with what UBER is experiencing with all the negative attention they have been getting from upsetting the established cab market.

You be the judge.

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