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A study of the

Brand Identity

by

David Hunter

20 May 2015
Contents

Introduction 1

Ubers brand identity 1

Positioning Statement 5

Does Ubers brand image and identity relationship live up to the Vega Healthy Brand criteria? 6

Uber Brand Portfolio 7

Uber Contact Audit 9

Objectives that Uber needs to achieve to reach Brand Resonance 11

Summary 11

Appendix 12

References 14
Introduction

In this essay I will critically discuss Ubers brand identity using the Aaker and Joachimsthaler, Strategic Identity System
(Appendix Fig. 1.). I will argue in favour of Ubers mission statement, which I believe serves as a strong foundation for
a positioning statement. I will use the Vega Healthy Brand criteria to asses how well Ubers brand image matches up
with its brand identity. I will create a visual representation of Ubers brand portfolio, do a contact audit and finally present
strategic objectives that will help Uber create a stronger Brand Equity.

“Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we
make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From
our founding in 2009 to our launches in hundreds of cities today, Ubers rapidly expanding global presence
continues to bring people and their cities closer.”
(www.uber.com/about)

Ubers Brand Identity

Uber as a Product

The product is an app that provides a customer with a ride from point A to point B. The brand as one customer
put it “Is a really well dressed masseuse”.

It is crucial for a company to distinguish between the product and the brand so that it does not fall into the product
fixation trap. Multiple perspectives must be used to ensure that the brand does not become one dimensional. The brand
must always be more than the product, because the product can be copied while the brand can remain unique. To this
end Uber is doing very well, because with their rating system they are constantly receiving feedback and suggestions
from both customers and employees. The brand is a culmination of the app, the quality and cleanliness of the vehicles
and the well-dressed, well-mannered drivers. This is why the customer said, she could use a different form of public
transport like a bus, but with uber it feels like she is driving in luxury.

Ubers Product Scope

Uber is a taxi service operated from an app and has various product or service lines such as uberX, uberTAXI,
uberBLACK, uberVAN / SUV and uberLUX to suit various customer needs. So the scope of the Uber product is an
innovative transporting system that takes customers from their pick up point to their destination.

Ubers Product Attributes

The app is easy to use, and eliminates the need to call a taxi service. The cars are clean and roadworthy and the
Drivers are professional. The app always finds the car closest to the customer so the service is quick. When two or more
Uber customers travel together they can split the bill via the app. This makes trips even cheaper. All payment is done
electronically via the app, so there is no need for cash. This provides security for both Drivers and Riders by reducing
the risks of hijacking.

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Ubers Quality and Value

Ubers corporate strategy is Price Leadership. This means that Uber aims to provide its customers with the highest
possible value at the lowest price.

Ubers Association with Use

Uber is all about use, that is why the slogan has the word “Driver” and their mission statement starts with the word
“transportation”. Their brand identity emphasises the fact that they are a convenient and inexpensive, transportation
company.

Ubers Association with Users

Uber caters to a large variety of users. The uberX option is tailored to customers who want a cheap, value for money
taxi. The uberSUV and uberVAN options caters for groups of more than four, and up to seven people while the
uberBLACK and uberLUX options are for customers who are willing to pay a little more to travel in luxury and style.

Ubers Country of Origin

Ubers brand identity is not linked to its country of origin, which is the United States of America. It is an international
brand that tailors its services to each specific location. One example of this, is the various international languages that
are available on the app and website.

Uber as an Organization

Organization Attributes

Organizational attributes are based on the organizations, culture, values and programs. The benefits of basing the brand
identity on organizational attributes instead of product attributes are threefold.

“First, it is easier to copy a product than to duplicate an organization with unique people, values, and programs.
Second, organizational attributes usually apply to a set of product classes, and a competitor in only one
product class might find it difficult to compete. Third, because organizational attributes such as being
innovative are hard to evaluate and communicate, it is difficult for competitors to demonstrate that they have
overcome any perceived gap. Additional benefits are the fact that organizational attributes can contribute to a
value proposition, provide credibility for the product claims of sub-brands, and build customer relationships.”
(Brand Development - An Investigation from a Branding Agency’s Perspective - 2000)

A few examples of organizational attributes available to managers are, Society/community orientation, Perceived quality,
Innovation, Concern for customers, Presence and success.

Ubers organizational culture, values and programs are guided by an ‘Innovation as well as a Society and Community
Orientation’.

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In terms of innovation, Uber introduced the concept of calling a cab via an app to the world, and since its founding in
2009 it has revolutionised the taxi industry. They are constantly looking for ways of improving their service and this led to
the introduction of low cost services such as uberX and the new option they are introducing called uberPOOL.

“The idea is simple. With uberPOOL, you share a ride—and split the cost—with another person who just
happens to be requesting a ride along a similar route. The beauty, though, is that you still get Uber-style
on-demand convenience and reliability: just push the button like before and get a car in five minutes.
When we find a match, we notify you of your co-rider’s first name.”
(http://blog.uber.com/uberPOOL)

Uber creates jobs for people of the community they operate in, and plan to create 1 000 000 jobs for women by 2020.
Uber is reducing drinking and driving, the need for parking and is looking to provide a real economic alternative to car
ownership.

Local verses Global

In 2011 Uber went Global by launching in Paris. This showed Ubers commitment to the brands future by investing
resources into new markets and also ensuring longevity by competing on the world stage.

There was never any reason for Uber to go with a local strategy since their customers do not link any part of a taxi
service with regional heritage. Uber, as a software company, has and still is revolutionising the taxi industry. When Uber
went global its technology was much more advanced than its competitors.

Uber has developed a “Launch Play-book”, which is a list of operating guidelines and business strategies that were put
together, internally, by about 40 employees. This is their blueprint for expansion but it does not cover everything. Each
new city operation is viewed as its own start-up. Uber has experienced difficulties in dealing with local regulators and
labour groups who argue that Uber operates as an unlicensed taxi service and drains money from their transport
markets. Uber is not regulated and runs the risk of saturating every market they enter. This would be great for customers
and Uber because Uber does not carry any of the costs associated with the vehicles and drivers, but very bad for drivers
as they would struggle to get customers.

Brand as a Person

Personality and Customer / Brand Relationship

“Everyone’s Private Driver” is Ubers tag line.

Uber is a helpful, innovative transport problem-solver who is professional, considerate and caring. This is how Uber
portrays itself and most of Ubers customers see the company in the same way.

Ubers Customer-Brand relationship falls under the category of Flings.

“Short-term, time-bounded engagements of high emotional reward, but devoid of commitment and reciprocity demands.”

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Brand as a Symbol

Linking Uber to a symbol can strengthen its brand identity, because symbols are easy to recognise and recall. There are
three types of symbols that Uber can use.

Visual Imagery

Symbols that use visual imagery can be memorable and powerful. For example, Coke’s classic 200ml bottle and the
Mercedes-Benz emblem. However the connection between symbol and brand is built up over time. Therefore the
symbol Uber chooses must be unique and in some way communicate the quality or effectiveness of the brand.

Metaphor

Incorporating a metaphor into your symbol makes it more meaningful. For example the Jordan logo shows off Michael
Jordan’s leaping ability and is a metaphor for the performance of Nike sneakers, and the Duracell bunny is a metaphor
for long battery life.

The Brand Heritage

Uber has not been around long enough to have built a meaningful and vivid brand heritage, so it can not make use of
associations with its history to develop a symbol.

Uber uses visual imagery for its symbol. Their original logo was the red UC for Uber Cab which was later simplified to
the red U and currently Uber uses the more sophisticated tailored silver u against the black background.

Uber changed its logo partially to prevent trademark infringement when it launched globally. The current logo is a huge
improvement from the red u. The black u with the white background shows the versatility and recall ability of the current
logo. The colours are inverted but because the u is uniquely personalised, customers can still recognise the brand.

Brand Essence, Brand Core Identity, Brand Extended Identity

Brand essence should be single-minded, intangible, unique, experiential, consistently delivered, authentic,
sustainable, meaningful and scalable. A brand core identity should reflect the strategy and values of the organisation,
differentiate the brand and resonate with consumers. It should be relevant to the times and include elements that make
the brand valuable from a market perspective and must be carried through to new markets and products. A brand
extended identity provides a broader perspective, and becomes the personality of the brand during and after the brand
implementation process by providing additional detail and associations directly to consumers.

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Uber Brand Essence
Revolutionary

Uber Brand Core Identity


Market Leader
Innovative
Service and Quality
Great Value for Money
Social Responsibility

Uber Brand Extended Identity


A disruptive innovator that shakes up the industry

Ubers Value Proposition

Functional benefit - Making cities more accessible by seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through apps.
Emotional benefit - Safety by Design
Self expressive benefit - Everyones Private Driver

Credibility

“Uber provides a solution to a real problem that impacts millions of people. In all sense of the word they have
disrupted the monopoly of taxi cab transportation that exists in many cities and reinvented the experience from
top to bottom.”
(https://growthhackers.com/companies/uber/)

Because most Uber clients have great experiences, they tell others about it. Word of mouth is Ubers greatest marketing
tool and provides real credibility and growth.

Relationship

On-Demand-Flings. Short-term, time-bounded engagements of high emotional reward, but devoid of commitment and
reciprocity demands. It is literally like having an almost-instant ‘Pick-me-up’ whenever you need it. Which is exactly what
customers are looking for.

Positioning Statement

Ubers mission statement is “transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone”. I will base the
positioning statement on this mission statement because I believe it clearly states what Uber as an organization aims to
achieve.

To all who need to hail a cab, Uber is an app that provides you with the simplest and most
reliable taxi service around. With the touch of a button a Driver will pick you up within minutes.

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Does Ubers brand image and identity relationship live up to the Vega Healthy Brand criteria?

The Brand Image is how customers perceive the brand. Ubers Brand Identity is the way in which Uber wants to be
perceived by customers. Ubers Brand Identity and Brand Image match up very well.

Does Uber have a meaningful purpose?

Yes, Uber serves a real need for transport. It is making public transport easier and cheaper for, those who could
afford taxis, and granting access to a better quality of public transport to lower income groups. It is also creating jobs for
people in the communities in which it operates.

Is Ubers brand purpose served in all that it does?

At the moment yes. Their purpose is to provide a professional, safe, quick and convenient transportation service to all.
However because Uber does not regulate their partner drivers, there have been incidents were drivers have been seen
wearing shorts and t-shirts, customers were picked up in cars with cracked and damaged bumpers and Uber runs the
risk of flooding the market. There have been protests by competitors in the past, but what is worrying is that some Uber
drivers are complaining that they are not earning what they used to because Uber is flooding its own market. So for now
customers are experiencing great service and value for money, but if Uber does not do something about regulating its
partner Drivers it could run into serious problems.

Does Uber have a distinctive identity?

Yes Ubers identity is unique. They are the first taxi service to operate via an app. Their new logo is simple and
uniquely personalised, so it has become a visual differentiator that is easy to recall. Their slogan “Everyones Private
Driver” is simple and to the point and increases a customers self esteem by spoiling them with the experience of having
a chauffeur.

Does Uber add value to the lives of people?

Investors receive impressive returns on their investments. Uber creates jobs and pays their employees very well in
relation to market standards. So it helps build the economy by creating new streams of revenue. For customers it
provides a safe, reliable, 24 hour taxi service that can be accessed by the touch of a button. It also improves the quality
of the taxi industry as a whole, because other taxi providers will have to improve their offering to keep up with changing
consumer demands. By reducing prices Uber has given people who could not afford a cab, the opportunity to afford it.
So Uber does add value to the lives of customers, employees, investors and the local communities in which it
operates.

Is Uber an engaging, authentic and coherent communicator?

Uber is an engaging communicator. At the end of every trip customers and drivers are required to give feedback. In this
way Uber stays in constant dialogue with Drivers and Riders. Its message is authentic and coherent. Ubers message
across all platforms is that it provides reliable transport. The lack of an, obvious and explicit, warning and explination
about Surge Pricing is the only flaw in their communication. Yet it is a serious one.

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Currently Uber drivers log on and off the system when they choose, so if there are not enough drivers online to meet
demand it creates bad service. This is why Uber implements Surge pricing. Drivers earn more when prices surge so
they log on to take advantage of that. Customers are not made aware of Surge pricing when they join Uber and when
they experience it, they feel victimised and cheated because they often pay more than double the normal rate.

Does Uber build sustainable relationships by never taking more than it gives?

Uber employees people from within the communities that it operates. So every time that Uber earns money the people
in that community share in that income. Uber is constantly looking at improving its offerings and this usually results in
savings for customers. So Uber is constantly giving back to the communities it serves.

Does Uber and the business that underpins it demonstrate that profit is not the driver but a consequence of all
of the above?

Ubers mission is “transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone”. The above has shown that
Uber lives this mission. Ubers price strategy is to be the ‘price leader’ in the taxi industry. The main driver for this is not
profit maximisation, but to make it affordable for everyone. So for Uber profit is a consequence of all of the above.

Uber Brand Portfolio

A Brand Portfolio is the umbrella under which all the different brands, services and companies which belong to one
business fall. For example, Volkswagen AG owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, MAN, Porsche, Scania,
SEAT, SKODA, Volkswagen, and many other brands and companies.

Each of these brands create Brand and Line Extensions to cater to various market segments. Brand extensions are
new products or services created by a specific brand, for different or new market segments, that uses the existing brand
name to increase sales and revenue. Companies who use brand extensions hope to leverage their existing customer
base and brand loyalty. For example: Volkswagen is a Brand of vehicle manufacturer and their brand extensions are the
different brands of vehicles like Amarok, Golf, up! etc.

A Line extension is the use of an established product brand name for a new item in the same product category. Line
Extensions occur when a company introduces additional items in the same product category under the same brand
name such as increasing the engine capacity from a Golf TSI 1.2l to a Golf TSI 1.4l.

Fig. 2. is a graphic representation of some of Volkswagens Brand and Line Extensions.

At present Uber only owns Uber and its Brand Portfolio only has line extensions. Ubers current line extensions are
uberX, the low-cost option for everyday use, uberTAXI, no waiving or whistling and no cash needed, uberBLACK, the
original, your own private driver on demand and in a high-end sedan, uberVAN / SUV, fits up to 7 people in style and
uberLUX, the finest cars with prices to match. Uber tailors these line extensions to the area it operates in, as can be
seen in the Paris, South Africa and Tokyo images. I would suggest another line extension called uberVANPLUS. This
would be vehicles that can seat 12 or more people, and would be aimed at the parents of school children, Night - Clubs
and festivals. The parents can have their children picked up from home, dropped off at school and brought home again.
Night - Clubs and festivals can advertise this service to their parents and get more people to attend their events.

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Fig. 2. VOLKSWAGEN BRAND PORTFOLIO

Annual
G T I 2013 Vertical Line Extensions
(based on advances in style,
design, technology and keeping up
with the competition)

G T I 2014

2015

Vertica l
Line
Extensio n s
(based o n
differenc e s
in quali t y
and pric e )

Golf
Horizontal Line
Extensions

Volkswagen Brand Exten sions

Fig. 3. UBER BRAND PORTFOLIO

PARIS TOKYO

SOUTH AFRICA

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Uber Contact Audit

Brand Contact Inventory

Ubers customers come into contact with the brand via the app, website, advertisements and promotions, the cars and
drivers, news articles and other customers via word of mouth. These contact points are what creates Brand Salience,
which is the first step in K.L. Kellers’ ‘CBBE (Customer Based Brand Equity)’ model (Fig. 4 Appendix). Brand Salience is
the degree to which Uber is thought about or noticed when a customer is in a situation where they need public transport.
Strong brands have high brand salience which is the first step toward building strong brand equity.

Brand Contact Audit

First & Last Moment Competitive


Contact Point Frequency Impact of Contact Differentiation

App High High High Yes

Website Low High Low No

Advertisements & Low Low Low No


Promotions

Cars and Drivers High High Average No

News Articles Low High Low No

Word of Mouth Average High Low No

Contact Management Vehicle

To create and manage this vehicle a Brand Contact Council should be established. The members of this council will
be guided by the Brand Contact Audit and ensure that the key contact areas identified such as the App and Cars and
Drivers always deliver on the brand promise.

For example this council must be in constant contact with cellular coverage providers to ensure that Uber and its
customers always have access to a network so they can use the app. The condition of vehicles must be inspected
regularly and drivers must receive feedback on their service and ways in which they can improve and maintain the
expected level of service.

This will create value by ensuring that Ubers brand ethos is implemented in all places. It will increase Ubers reputation
and ensure that Ubers Brand Identity is actively managed.

The contact management vehicle that will also implement the second step in the CBBE model which is Brand
Performance and Brand Imagery. Brand Performance refers to how well Uber meets customers functional needs and
focuses on five aspects of product performance which are, 1. Primary characteristics and secondary features 2. Product
reliability, durability, and serviceability 3. Service effectiveness, efficiency, and empathy 4. Style and design 5. Price.

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Brand Imagery refers to how well Uber meets customer needs on a social and psychological level and consists of four
categories which are 1. User profiles 2. Purchase and usage situations 3. Personality and values 4. History, heritage
and experience.

Implementation and Contact Integration

During this phase the Brand Contact Council activates the Brand Contact Management Vehicle to create an
organisation wide brand building philosophy. This vehicle should achieve brand contact integration and ensure that the
brand promise is delivered at every contact point.

This phase will also implement step 3 in the CBBE model which is Consumer Judgements and Consumer Feelings.
During this phase Ubers contact council needs to gauge what customers think and feel about the brand.

Consumer Judgements are the customers personal opinions about Uber based on all the different performance &
imagery associations and are measured using four categories of judgment. 1. Quality: Customers judge a product or
brand based on its actual and perceived quality. 2: Credibility. This refers to the organisation behind the Uber brand and
consists of three dimensions which are; Expertise and Innovation, Trustworthiness, and Likeability. 3 Consideration:
Customers judge how relevant your product is to their unique needs. 4. Superiority: Customers assess how superior
your brand is in comparison with your competitors.

Consumer Feelings are the emotional responses and reactions to the Uber brand. There are six positive brand feelings
which are; warmth, fun, excitement, security, social approval, and self-­respect, Which the brand contact council must
aim to evoke with the contact management vehicle.

This will lead Uber towards the fourth and final step in the CBBE model which is Brand Resonance.

Brand Resonance is the most difficult and most desirable level of the brand equity pyramid. When Uber achieves brand
resonance its customers will feel a deep, psychological bond with the brand. There are four categories that Ubers brand
contact council must achieve, constantly evaluate and maintain. 1. Behavioural loyalty: This leads to customers engag-
ing in regular, repeat purchases of the Uber product. 2. Attitudinal attachment: Ubers aim is to make customers love the
brand and product, and view it as a pleasurable purchase. 3. Sense of community: Uber must give customers a sense
of community, kinship and belonging with other customers and people associated with the brand, including
company representatives. 4. Active engagement: This is the highest level of brand loyalty. Customers are actively
engaged with the Uber brand, even when they are not taking a ride. Engagement could include joining a club related to
the Uber, participating in online chats, marketing events, following your brand on social media and being an Uber
evangelist and ambassador and creating great word of mouth communication.

This will create strong Brand Equity.

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Objectives that Uber needs to achieve to reach Brand Resonance

Uber is the current market leader in app based taxi services. They have systems and customer benefits such as bot-
tled water, aux cables so that customers can listen to their own music in the car and ride sharing, etc. The value of the
company and the speed at which it is growing indicates that Uber has strong brand equity. Therefore the objectives I am
suggesting, are to strengthen and maintain this brand equity.

1. To reduce customer dissatisfaction by 20% by 2016.


This can be achieved by creating an obvious and explicit warning about Surge pricing on the website, app and
registration process, and sending emails to existing customers informing them about surge pricing.

2. Reduce Surge pricing by 30% by 2017.


Banks have a system that uses information from previous years to forecast how much cash they will need
each week. This makes banks more efficient, helps to provide great customer service and reduce the risk of
having excess cash on hand. Uber should adopt a similar system to regulate how many drivers should be in
a specific location at any given time. This will help reduce surge pricing, which upsets many customers, and it
can be used to let drivers know about quiet periods, so that there is not an excess of drivers online at any given
time. This system should be put in place within six months, since Uber is a software company, it should not be
difficult to achieve.

3. Create a system to regulate the number of Drivers they have in each market by 2017.
The other problem is that if too many drivers are logged on and the demand is low, the drivers don’t make
money. This is a situation of market saturation which Uber must avoid to keep their Drivers happy. So if they
have a system which tells Drivers, how many Drivers are needed in a certain area at a certain time they could
decide to work if there is still a need or otherwise do something else if there are enough drivers online. This
can be implemented with the forecasting system.

Summary

In conclusion Ubers Brand Identity and Brand Image are positively aligned as a disruptive, innovative and reliable taxi
service, that is revolutionising the taxi industry. It is a Healthy brand that never gives more than it takes and benefits
every community in which it operates. With the introduction of uberPOOL Uber is extending its Brand Portfolio in the
right direction, to improve customer ease of access and greater market share.

Uber only needs to regulate its partner drivers better and its Brand Equity will keep increasing.

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Appendix

Fig. 1.

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Fig. 4. Customer-Based Brand Equity Pyramid

Keller, K.L. 2001. Building Customer-Based Brand Equity: A Blueprint For Creating Strong
Brands. [Online] Available at: <http://mktg.uni-svishtov.bg/ivm/resources/CustomerBasedbrandEquityModel.pdf>
[Accessed 15 May 2015].

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