Uber brand

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

21 May 2018

Repairing the Uber brand falling short

Brand repair can be a difficult thing. Although, not that difficult. The Uber brand needs repairing after numerous scandals involving former CEO Travis Kalanick and reports of drivers not being carefully vetted.

Now comes new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi with TV spots announcing a new era for the Uber brand.

“I doubt it’ll make much impact by itself, when the right approach for Uber was there all along.”

A few things are interesting here. One, Khosrowshahi never mentions Kalanick. Or even past mistakes. That’s OK. But the approach feels too much like “Nothing see here, let’s move along.” Even the final tagline, “Moving Forward,” feels that way. (And reads a touch too clever.)

Brand repair means addressing your hurdles and providing something more meaningful for audiences to notice. There are three audiences here: Your own employees, those who currently reject you and those who are still using you.

I don’t see anything in this spot that really shifts any new meaning to the Uber brand for any of these audiences. Yes, Khosrowshahi speaks about a “new leadership and a new culture.” But what does that mean? Moving forward?

Right message for Uber brand hidden

What could have Uber done instead? For one, I wish the response felt a little more impactful. Shots of Khosrowshahi talking with employees are fairly routine for these sorts of things. And, generally, everything shows in positive light. As they should. But it’s just so expected.

Better than “Moving Forward” was Khosrowshahi’s comment: “One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing.”

Uber brandNow that hits home, and is more emotional. It directly confronts the belief about Kalanick’s tenure. That it rarely did the right thing. Now, the new leadership and new culture means something. “Doing the right thing” means a change has taken place. But the phrase becomes glossed over, buried in “we’re charting an even better road for Uber…”

Double meanings aside, this attempt at repairing the Uber brand falls short. I doubt it’ll make much impact by itself, when the right approach for Uber was there all along.

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