Product + UX Design + Startup Advisor

Uber Early Customer Development

Brand Strategy & Integrated Campaign 2010

Photo credit for "I Uber Texas": Maya Baratz


Uber was one of my first clients under my own studio, Akko. Over the course of a year, I helped one of the world’s most successful startups get its legs and acquire early devotees across the country.

Uber, now a massively successful company operating in dozens of cities across world, needed a good deal of brand equity and education to help people realize the full potential and value of the product. People had negative misconceptions about car services and in some cities, needed some convincing as to why they should use the service. At first glance it seemed cost-prohibitive, even though users of the service became quickly addicted to it.

My first campaign with them had the goal of making a splash at SXSW, a difficult event to capture attention when there is so much already going on. We connected the Uber app to summon pedicabs - a popular form of transportation in Austin during the overpopulated mega-festival - and branded the pedicabs and drivers with Austin-specific references and a consistent brand overarching brand message of "Everyone's Private Driver". The campaign was extremely successful and brought infamy to the young company, and was repeated every year since our initial pilot. 

Our next effort was to help expand Uber into new markets, starting with New York City. Uber was founded in San Francisco, where taxis are notoriously hard to find and public transportation leaves much to be desired. However in other cities, like NYC, taxis and public transportation are ubiquitous and efficient. We worked with Uber to identify customers and scenarios where there’s a strong case to lean on the app’s reliability, user experience and speed, whether to impress a date, a client, or differentiate yourself from the crowd of tourists.

Our team and the Uber community managers pitched concepts for promotional discount cards to major boutique hotels in New York. The cards were meant to convey the elegance of the hotel along with nodding to the functionality of the Uber service. They were slipped into the keycard sheath that guests would get upon check-in.

To further expand Uber beyond SF and New York, I created a series of online digital campaigns helped grow awareness of the brand online by messaging local neighborhoods, reaffirming the idea that Uber knows each city intimately. These ads were sold to popular websites representing their ever-expanding demographics beyond their early adopters. 

Uber, now a household name, has grown virally by taking bold steps in communicating their brand values in creative ways.  As a brand that knows how to push the boundaries to capture the hearts of potential customers, the partnership was one in which I constantly got to experiment and learn what turns on their customers and was a great example of how even grassroots efforts with a clever approach can make a huge splash.



// Creative Direction

// Art Direction

// Graphic Design

// Environmental Design

// Brand Strategy

// Copywriting