Uber is a tech start-up connecting riders and drivers that turned into a global mobility platform in a short and quick span of only eight years.
Having embraced new and future modes of transportation—from bikes, to tuk-tuks, to flying cars, it needed a holistic brand system that was instantly recognizable, works around the world and was efficient to execute, accommodating all of its needs and services within.
Wolff Olins partnered with Uber to reimagine how the world moves, creating a system that connects with all modes of transportation, in all places, for all people—including internal Uber teams. The project was an intensely collaborative effort between Wolff Olins, the Uber Brand Experience Team, and MCKL Type Foundry.
For All Places
With Uber operating in 660+ cities and having its highest growth areas in regions outside of the US, such as Latin America and India, the brand had to have a system to be able to work globally.
Keeping this in mind, Wolff Olins adapted a universal ‘beyond-simple’ global brand instead of pursuing a complex identity system, localized through colour and pattern. This universal system gave teams the freedom to make it relevant to their audiences with culturally specific content.
For All People
With a new wave of leadership at Uber came a renewed commitment to safety which until now was product-driven. But safety was a much larger context. It was the brand’s need and requirement to speak equally to riders, drivers, and employees, which led to answering the question, “What does safety mean for different people at different times?”
This resulted in the introduction of Safety Blue to the colour palette. It’s unique to Uber and meant to be used sparingly to indicate important moments of support, care or connection between the user and the brand.
For All Teams
The decentralized nature of Uber’s operations meant the company needed a system that could be easily implemented by a wide range of practitioners around the world in a broad spectrum of digital and physical applications. The system isn’t just for marketing designers, but for product teams, customer service, and beyond. Its success depends on how useful teams find it.
This required brand system of Uber is made up of nine elements, each one explained below.
A wordmark instead of a symbol, the logo is approachable, easy to read, and takes full advantage of the name recognition. Optical kerning, refined weight, and defined clear space, as well as well-delineated placement in relation to other content, all help to make it as instantly recognizable as possible.
The composition system is elegant in its sheer simplicity of use — it creates a subtle “U” wherever it appears.
By defining the grid based on the logo, the system stays flexible and beyond easy to apply. The U-frame optimized for content is used for hoardings, billboards and other advertising formats.
The typography is as unique and easy to use as Uber is.
Inspired by the world’s best used transportation examples, it was designed to maximize its impact across all applications while keeping it easy to read, own-able, and highly recognizable.
The icons are inspired by global transportation iconography and drawn from the same shapes as their typeface, creating a seamless system from text to icon.
The arrow is part of the iconography but can be used in copy as a shorthand between destinations, whether geographic or states of mind.
A tight colour palette, dominated by black and white, draws on the colours used in global navigation.
The high contrast of black and white, the primary colours of Uber’s palette, make the text as legible as possible.
The use of a set of bright secondary colours makes the UI interesting.
The Safety blue, unique to Uber is used sparingly to call out moments of support, assurance and other important interactions between a user and the brand.
The motion system expresses the simple and easy movement that Uber makes possible. In an attempt to create a completely own-able motion system, the broadcast packages and the key motion states within the product are aligned in a manner to have just one set of motion principles and base motion states.
The photography inspires Uber’s audience of young and old, partners and customers, local and global. It builds on how it feels to move from motivation at point A to the emotional payoff of arriving at point B.
The illustration draws from Uber’s logo and the transportation language inspiration of the typeface. Simple shapes, clean lines, limited colour and heightened reality give the illustrations a branded feel and make it easy to understand at a glance.
Tone of Voice
Uber’s global tone of voice focuses on the mindset they share with their users: they see the world as it could be and work to make it a reality. Beyond word choice and style choices, Uber’s tone of voice focuses their belief in putting their audience first.
Built from stakeholder input from around the world and tested on the ground with creative teams, Uber’s brand system is simple, flexible, and globally recognizable.
The learnings of what the business needed globally during a period of transition were used to drive their work of creating a brand that both served their business and engaged the audience.