In our Brand Profile Series, we take a closer look at surging brands across the world. For this seventh article of the series, we invite you to the cutthroat field of ridesharing apps – here is Lyft!
Need a Lyft? Logan Green and John Zimmer transformed a campus peer-to-peer ridesharing app to a brand valued at $7.5 billion in just 5 years. Lyft is a California-based brand with over 3 million monthly riders (August 2016). Currently available only for American drivers, it’s in Lyft’s plans to go international. Join us for a ride!
Your friend with a car
With a product that is nearly identical to Uber, Lyft wants to be perceived as having a vision drastically different from its main competitor according to CEO Logan Green. Lyft wants to be a model of “diverse, inclusive and safe community”. But also a charity, a social cause and a young party goer, as one gathers from the brand’s digital sources.
Lyft supports charities to sustain its “good guy” image. Affordable rates and driver tipping options give off a friendly vibe. On top of that, Lyft wants to appear eco friendly by helping reduce the number of cars on the roads. The brand spreads thin across being a cool friend, a serious activist and a caring community member. Is Lyft facing an identity crisis?
Pink is the new black
Is this MTV? No, it’s Lyft, and it’s popping. From an appearance of Joe Jonas (a singer and actor popular among American millennials) to Boomerang “in a loop” videos on Instagram, Lyft wants to be trendy. The brand wants you to think that a rideshare is a real party on wheels. Lyft clearly strives to be “fun, irreverent and provocative” says Becca Lawson, VP of Brand Marketing. Lyft’s visual brand manual echoes this idea. “Pink is how we shout”, says the document. “Lyft pink” consistently appears on social media and on its website. However, in the app itself you will notice a disconnect: there is no pink. Indeed, the look has not yet transferred to the product beyond the loading screen.
Lyft wants to attract the youths. With Lyft Line, a service that matches riders with others going in a similar direction, Lyft seeks to appeal to a younger pool of customers. Uber offers a similar service (uberPOOL) for a higher price. With Lyft, the ride is a party and the driver is your friend. Yet, you might be disappointed by Lyft’s customer support. This “friend” does not offer a phone number or a chat to contact it, while complaints on its social media channels often remain unreplied. For a brand that positions itself as a friendly taxi app, the company seems surprisingly not too eager to engage in conversations with angry passengers.
Unless Lyft resolves its identity crisis, it will remain in the shadow of Uber. Is Lyft a “ridesharing party”, a charitable activist? Serious or groovy? A taxi app or a community? “When we do go abroad, it won’t just be as a taxi service”, says Green. Perhaps he is right, Lyft doesn’t have to remain Uber’s follower forever. The “community” narrative of Lyft reminds of the positive sides of public transportation. Perhaps, Lyft’s could position itself more as an alternative to buses, metros and trams, rather than an Uber-like taxi service. In the race between similar apps like Gett, Juno and Curb, Lyft is not the only one who wants to take Uber’s place as the king of the road!