Businesses in the sharing economy are dominating and disrupting traditional sectors when it comes to consumer consumption of goods and services. Airbnb has become the new digs on the block when you’re staying in a new city as opposed to booking a hotel room. Uber has driven the yellow cabs bonkers with their ride-sharing service. But what do these companies have in common with your business? A lot more than you think.

Truth be told, though these companies are changing the game when it comes to the travel and logistics industries respectively, they are competing with similar companies and their more established predecessors. For example, Airbnb has to compete with HomeAway and Noirbnb along with the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world, while Uber has to compete with Lyft, Moovn and yellow cab companies. To do that, they must have a strong brand that attracts and retains clients while simultaneously gaining market share. And you guessed it: for you to compete in your industry whether you’re a disruptor or a traditionalist, your business must have a solid brand to stand on.

Want to see how branding can affect the customer experience and the company’s perception? We’re going to take a look at Uber and Lyft, two companies that offer the same service but use their brand to differentiate themselves in the market. Specifically, we’ll focus on their respective visual identities and brand experiences to provide you with inspiration on how you can make yourself stand out in the marketplace.

The visual identity of a brand

Background: You can speak for yourself if you think that a brand can exist without a commanding visual presence. A powerful brand has a strong visual identity that speaks for the company. People are naturally drawn to the visual elements of a brand, and in the same way that nonverbal cues dominate the perception of conversations, a visual presence can influence someone to choose one brand over the other. Moreover, a visual identity can help people distinguish a business in the market, influence their affinity for a brand and grow familiar with said brand to help them create decisions about purchasing from that brand in the future.

How does Uber stack up?

The name of the company “Uber” evokes the feeling of trendiness, while the brand colors (black, white, green) give off an air of cutting-edge and sleek. The company name “Uber” is bold and in all caps when it stands alone, which adds to the sense of exclusivity and mystery, as the company’s name doesn’t exactly describe the service it provides. Drivers place an Uber-branded decal to the bottom of their windshield so that customers can better find them.

How does Lyft stack up?

The name of the company is already a fun play on the casual phrase to call a ride. The colors that depict the brand (neon pink, purple) are often associated with nightlife activities or fun products. The brand’s chunky, signature font combined with the lowercase letters can be viewed as friendly, creative and relaxed. When Lyft was first introduced in the market, drivers were able to distinguish themselves with a bright pink mustache affixed to the grill of the car. However, that brand marker has been replaced with a device called “Amp” that illuminates a car’s dashboard to help riders find their drivers easily.

The brand experience

Background: The brand experience is where the rubber hits the road: if a company invests in a uniquely memorable and positive brand experience, the brand will eventually sell itself through its customers (aka #1 fans!). Most companies only have to worry about controlling this process of the brand experience, but companies involved in the sharing economy like Uber and Lyft are also affected by the actual owners or conduits of the service (the independent contractor drivers have influence over how a rider perceives a brand). However, since many drivers use both, let’s focus on how the brand experience differs in terms of what each company offers its customers and how that portrays the companies in the marketplace.

How does Uber stack up?

The company has experimented with various modes of transportation through the years. The company first came on the market with its “black car” service that screamed elite and innovative, in comparison to the traditional yellow cab. Over time, the company found new ways to diversify its income (thereby changing up the brand experience) through new services. Though services like helicopter and boat rides were tested, the ones that stayed the course included carpools and lower-priced transportation in newer cars (that aren’t considered “black cars”). Uber is slowly morphing into a logistics company with the addition of food delivery services and a B2B ride management platform. The idea here is that Uber wants to be as ubiquitous as possible so that the company is seen as the one-stop-shop for everything. It’s obvious that through pop culture references in songs (Uber Everywhere, anyone?) and in movies that this company is slowly becoming a household name.

How does Lyft stack up?

Lyft’s debut into the market was seen as a friendlier, less pretentious version of Uber. The company encouraged people to ride in the front seat of the car, as opposed to the back, and inspired a culture of friendliness and comfort with your Lyft driver (they were to be seen as a friend, rather than a “driver”). With that level of service, coupled with the fun, visual elements of the brand, Lyft was seen as a viable alternative for riders looking to get around. Eventually, they added more options for people to experience Lyft, including a carpool, but they don’t have as many services as Uber does. For those who aren’t fans of Uber, Lyft has become their viable source of transportation and it’s created a tribe of fans for itself.
In a world filled with competitors, possessing a strong brand identity is crucial to standing out and reaching your target market. If you need direction on brand strategy, Creative Juice is here to help.