I’mma stop you right there Uber.

Here’s why I don’t even want to write about Uber’s rebrand: because it’s a tacky example of overhyped AND EMPTY attempt at “design thinking” to people who don’t think.

Tell us how you really feel, Jenny

Well allright, Melissa. Since you asked.

Uber’s rebrand reminds me of what it was like so many years ago– sitting next to 40 people all calling themselves “designers” (or worse– CREATIVES), and never once owning a creative thought in a conversation, or a thoughtful comment or critique. Yes I am biased from my own experiences, but I didn’t make them up– I sat in board rooms with them.

Looking at Uber’s redesign all of my sass comes tumbling towards my uvula like it’s 4am on Black Friday and the biggest TV is on sale for $1.

Are you kidding? It feels like an anus. Or like a brand for anal beads. And you’re trying to sell me… bits… and atoms.

BITS AND ATOMS?

BITS.

AND ATOMS.

Allright sass Jenny Whoa girl. WHOA.

Basically I get all hot and bothered because it’s apparent that no deeper level thinking has ventured into this execution. Normally I like to be diplomatic.

You weren’t in the briefing meeting. You didn’t get to understand what Uber’s shareholders wanted, what they wanted to say about themselves– who was doing the saying? Who had to listen? You don’t know any of this.

While all of that is so very true, it doesn’t look like it mattered an ounce. What are they saying? “We’re a pretty stock and file site for graphic designers to use for their clients”.

“We are connected”

How are you going to sell me “bits and atoms” with a logo that seriously looks like it belongs on the Apple TV instructions booklet? Or a sloppy reworking of the Chase Bank logo?

Their brand video is the most salient example of what overhyping in agency life can do.

Bits & Atoms, Oh Joy of Joys!

“For us, the atom symbolizes our rapidly improving cities, the goods we move from place to place, and most importantly– the people we serve”.

I’mma stop you right there Uber.

You cannot commandeer the message for a symbol in reality– such as an atom. And seriously, if you could don’t you think Apple would have pounced on that marketable opportunity?

It’s semiotics– they’re going to be engraved in us because we share in a society, a nationality (American), a language, a fluid culture sure– but it still roots us together.

Messaging has its limits, and you aren’t able to really move those metrics with empty jargon.

“Until a few short years ago, atoms and bits existed in entirely different worlds”.

If Atoms make up everything, then Atoms make up bits. It’d be like saying “before I was born, me and my mother existed in entirely different worlds”. Which is.. essentially true, but is it necessary? Or helpful or intelligent in a branding context? Do I even have to answer my own questions?

Their branding video plays like it should be featured on The Onion or at the very least given the full Tim & Eric treatment so that I can openly laugh at the obvious ridiculousness.

Except this is SERIOUS! This is why I had an eye rolling problem while working in an agency. Let’s be real.

Critical thinking shortcuts all of this pretentious buffoonery. It grounds thinking in reality, and we work from there. Yes designers and artists can be lofty, but it is the difference between the two–in the grounding of the lofty concept tied to reason! Make it connect with someone who doesn’t give 3 shits about what the icon is SUPPOSED to mean– have it make sense to them instantly. And if you have to explain it with pretension– you’re doing it wrong.

You may not get everyone to like it, but they’ll at least see the reason why it’s there.

Nothing has been positive about Uber’s rebrand, but it’s interesting to see that people think it’s ugly, but only a few people are ranting about its meaninglessness.

Do I think the head creative deserved to lose his job? Yep. But I’m the same person that believes the entire design model needs a serious overhaul.

Design as we currently utilize it won’t change anything, until we start treating design like the powerhouse communicator it IS, it will continue to “not change anything”.

If we allow design to reach, to explain, to communicate, and reorganize– then yes, it absolutely has the power to change things. We simply have to acknowledge it. Allow it. And call it for the bullshit it is when it falls short thanks to pretentious overblown agency-jargon heaped on us by people who don’t care to think– let alone see design applied intelligently.

One thought on “I’mma stop you right there Uber.

  1. Love-love this post. You are spot on. The video made me dry heave with passages like this: “The atom is responsible for everything, from the BLT (photo: a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich) to moms everywhere (video: kid pushing a 24-yr-old “Mom” on a swing) to New York City (stock video of NYC).” …Then some footage of kittens and roses and references to “the human stuff” repeatedly.

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