Uber, once a black car service for an elite few, has ditched its stark branding for a new approach evoking a more connected world. While Uber’s wordmark was cleaned and tightened up, the the way most of us know Uber–its app icon–was given the biggest refresh. Gone is the minimalistic black and silver “U.” In its place? The atom.
According to Uber, the icon speaks to the company’s goal of becoming much more than an app:
[The atom] belied what Uber actually is—a transportation network, woven into the fabric of cities and how they move. To bring out this human side—the atoms—we’ve added color and patterns. The team has spent months researching architecture, textiles, scenery, art, fashion, people and more to come up with authentic identities for the countries where Uber operates.
Knee jerk reactions to the new look aside, the brand strategy makes sense. Uber is pushing diversification, growing into a company that’s defined by more than private black cars or shared rides in a Hyundai, to include services like laundry and food delivery. The new app icon and branding, criss-crossed by colorful lines and patterns that seem to mimic street grids, textiles, and circuitry, suggest that Uber is more akin to transportation infrastructure than startup.
The identity has also been personalized by country, ranging from hues of green and red for Ireland, to pink, yellow, and orange for India–another visual nod to the company’s global growth. Can an ever-changing symbol that’s so fundamentally amorphous ever become iconic? After another billion rides, that may be a moot point.