Uber delivers people, ice cream and CATS!
Uber’s Mission: 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 over 70 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.
Uber is a privately held company that was founded by Travis Kalanick (founder of Red Swoosh) and Garrett Camp (co-founder of StumbleUpon) in march of 2009. Uber is a transportation network company (TNC) which is a fancy term for a company that uses an online platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles (just to be crystal clear, Uber doesn’t own any of the vehicles). Uber is leading by laying out a platform for people to help other people. Riders get an on-demand service and drivers can make additional income off an underlying asset that normally just sits in the garage. Riders can request four different vehicle types: UberX, Black Car, SUV and UberXL. Today, the company operates in more than 42 countries and has raised 1.2 billion at a $17 billion evaluation led by Fidelity Ventures. The company is currently headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Why is Uber called Uber?
Uber launched under the brand name UberCab. The Oxford Dictionary defines Uber as: “denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing.” Kalanick and Camp set out to create an end-to-end experience that was reliable and trustworthy. However, like any startup, they hit a few roadblocks along the way.
In May of 2011, UberCab received a cease-and-desist letter from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, claiming they were operating an unlicensed taxi service. Criminal violations were filed and demanded that the company cease operations. UberCab immediately removed the word “cab” and started to operate under the brand name Uber. Additionally, Uber has faced regulatory challenges in cities like Seattle, New York, Washington D.C, Denver, Arizona, Atlanta, Houston and even London. Taxi lobbyists want Uber and other ride-sharing companies to play by the same rules. On the other hand, consumers argue that companies like Uber shouldn’t be punished for their innovation. You could argue that rules are rules, but Uber clearly is overcoming challenges and succeeding; they’ve turned users into supporters- supporters that express their voice and defend the service.
SEE ALSO: Why is Lyft Called Lyft?
Red “U” to Black “U” – Why the logo change?
Kalanick was quoted as saying, “There are many reasons for the change, but the most important is that Uber is getting ready to go global – I mean an Uber in every major city in the world. We need an identity that the world can understand and one that would get us out of the trademark infringement trouble that our BIG RED U was bound to get us into.”
5 Simple Problems Uber Uberized!
Definition of “Uberized” – Get people talking about the experience. Once you go Uber, you don’t go cab.
1. Unreliable service – “Isn’t the cab suppose to be here already? I’ll call again.”
Uber Fix: given the rise of mobile technology, Uber created an app that allows riders to track drivers’ arrival time. Additionally, you’ll also receive a text message when your driver is nearby. Show one friend this technology, and they’ll tell ten friends.
2. Cash or hustle – “My credit card reader isn’t working, do you have cash?”
Uber Fix: When you create your Uber account, you are required to enter you credit card information. After arrival, money is exchanged automatically via the app. How does Uber make money? They collect 20% of the total cost of each ride and the driver gets the remaining 80%. Tips are all included.
3. Poor customer service – On average, not the most friendly drivers
Uber Fix: Provide information in the app about the driver and encourage them to be friendly. A rating system incentives drivers to deliver excellent customer service.
4. Getting from point A to Point B is expected. People only talk about products and services that are extraordinary.
Uber Fix: Create an end-to-end experience (pre-ride, ride and post-ride) worth talking about with friends and family. If you are curious why things go viral or why some products and services get talked about more than others, check out this blog post.
5. Lack of safety, fear and trust
Uber Fix: Add the ability for riders and drivers to review each other. This holds both parties accountable. Also include a GPS tracker and driver profile to make each ride safe for the passenger.
Uber continues to develop useful features that motivates existing users to talk and share. In July 2013, Uber released a feature called Fare Splitting. This prevents the same person from getting stuck with the bill every time. More importantly, it encourages existing users to convince their friends to download the app to split the cost. Genius.
Just recently, they launched two new features called UberPool and UberPedal. The concept is simple, you share a ride with a person along a similar route as you. In the future, this will lower ride fares, decrease traffic congestion and reduce pollution. Competitors such as Sidecar and Lyft and even indirect competitors like Car2Go want a piece of the pie, which has reduced the cost for riders. As competition heats up in the ride sharing space, prices will continue to be more affordable and I think more consumers will seriously debate if owning car is worth it.
Clever Uber Marketing Stunts
- Uber Ice Cream – Once a year, on a hot summer day, Uber allows consumers to order ice cream directly from the Uber app. Luckily, I was persistent enough to get ice cream for humans and office dogs
- UberCHOPPER – Talk about luxury and style.
- UberSLEIGH – Global toy drive during the holiday season
- UberKittens – Isn’t viral just a nickname for kitten?
- UberLive – Live concerts on-the-go
- UberRomance – Send a dozen roses to that special someone on Valentine’s Day
- UberWedding – bring your vows, marriage license and we’ll drop you off at that special place
- UberJet – Take flight with UberJet
- UberChef – Chefs that come to your house
Three ideas for Uber
- Idea 1: 90% of the time I order an Uber, I’m heading to a bar with friends. Before we order the Uber, we brainstorm (online & offline) where we should go. Discovery apps like foursquare or Google Maps can alleviate this pain, but what’s stopping Uber from being a discovery app itself? “Discover & Go.”
- Idea 2: We are addicted to our best friends, and… I’m not talking about the friend that loves you back. I’m talking about your phone. We look at them in bed, on the bus, while driving, crossing the street, when we are isolated or lonely and even on the toilet. We are so addicted, the battery dies more frequently than it should. Like many people, my iPhone dies late in the evening. What if Uber partnered with popular bars and placed Uber Kiosks by the front doors? Branding opportunities in the bar would be endless. This is more of an awareness stunt than anything else. The message is: “Get Home Safe” – Uber Family
- Idea 3: As more competition enters the market, the people on the front lines (drivers) become more and more important for the brand. Since it’s only an 80/20 rev share, Uber has the flexibility to pay more if need be. At some point, giving more money may be necessary, but that’s not creative- that’s the easy way out. I’ve heard many great stories from friendly Uber drivers, maybe they launch something called “Uber Showcase” – the story behind the wheel.
What’s your favorite ride sharing company? What do you think the next Uber marketing stunt will be? Comment below! Thanks for reading “Why is it called Uber?!” #whyisitcalledUber
Post Update: Uber rebrands itself with new app icons. According to Kalanick, The team has spent months researching architecture, textiles, scenery, art, fashion, people and more to come up with authentic identities for the countries where Uber operates.”
Adam Lang is the founder and editor of Rewind & Capture. He is passionate about creative marketing, design and brand etymology.