Lately, there’s been quite a bit of hubbub surrounding the new branding and redesign released by Uber. As part of the major overhaul, each country supported by Uber received its very own color palette. In addition to the colors, Uber also customized the imagery to be country-specific.
I applaud Uber for creating a special version of the app for each country. This is what transcreation is all about. In transcreation, you create content for a particular country or culture, in the native language. Usually, the content is created in-country, by native speakers. As you can imagine, transcreating your multilingual content is a great way to reach your multinational audience with a personalized message. It is also very time-consuming and quite expensive.
And it sounds like Uber was conscientious in its efforts. According to Wired Magazine,
The designers mocked up mood boards for individual cities, regions and countries, piecing together images representing architecture, textiles, fashion, and art, among other things. Then they met with people <…> in their local offices via video conference to help edit the boards.
The process of meeting with people all around the world to make sure the “mood board” is appropriate is exactly the thing Uber should be doing to ensure that they are hitting their mark with local content. I wonder if they met with people from all 65 countries that they serve?
Example Mood Boards
Here is the mood board for Uber China:
Note the prominence of the color red in this board. That was a good choice. In Chinese, red is associated with joy, wealth, and good things. It is a very positive color. The same is true for gold. Gold means perfection, wisdom, and royal. On the other hand, blue has good and bad meanings in China. Blue is associated with immortality, which is good. But, it is also associated with being ill, being cold or clammy.
Here is Uber in Ireland:
I love the photograph and the use of green. Green is an important color in Ireland and one that most of us associate with Ireland. In fact, green is one of the colors of the Irish flag:
I kind of wish Uber had selected orange as a secondary color. That would be have been quite meaningful to the people in Ireland, just like red, white, and blue have significance for people here in the U.S.
In Ireland, green is also a symbol of the Catholic religion. Orange is a symbol of the Protestant religion. Perhaps another reason to have selected orange?
Mexico’s Uber branding has a lot of hot pink:
And here is Uber in India, with an emphasis on green and red:
In India, green is the color of Islam. It also represents virtue, hope, and new beginnings. Red is associated with wealth, fertility, and power.
So, What Does It All Mean?
I’m not so sure Uber really considered the meaning of the colors they selected for each country when they created their mood boards. Did they select the colors and then find photos to match? Or did they find some nice images and pull colors from them? It is hard to tell.
I would hope that they paid careful attention to the colors they selected for the remaining 61 countries. Because color really does matter and the “meaning” of colors is not universal.
All-in-all, I’m very happy to see that Uber cared about transcreating components of its brand for each country. I’m not so sure if they did it just to be different and colorful, or if they had a well-thought out plan for connecting with each market.
I’d love to hear from someone at Uber who knows the answer.
*Sources used in this post include: