Lyft brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Lyft Brand Strategy Analysis
Lyft
ABOUT

Category:
Travel & transportationtaxi companies; Sharing Economy

Owner of the brand:
Lyft, Inc.

Key competitors:
Uber, myTaxi

Brand essence

Effecting positive change for cities by offsetting carbon emissions.

Brand values

Sustainability, togetherness, accessibility, convenience.

Brand character

Casual, welcoming, for everybody, friendly, human, playful.

EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Lyft was set up as a sharing economy brand. Its positioning is centered around the philosophy of carsharing, in which the main goal is to decrease the number of vehicles on the roads and thus minimize their environmental impact by maximizing the usage of every car seat. Lyft is about catching a ride with somebody who is going in the same direction as you. Logan Green, the company’s CEO said: “Our vision for the world is making car ownership unnecessary. We never set out to create a better taxi cab. (…) The idea wasn’t for every driver to be doing it full time. The vision is for every car on the road to be a Lyft car.[1]

2

Despite the fact that many people in the US, drivers and riders alike, use Uber and Lyft interchangeably, the two companies are based on different philosophies and each represents a distinct brand character. Uber positions itself as a professional transportation company utilising sophisticated technology and builds a relatively serious and aspirational brand image. Lyft is more informal and fun and attempts to realise the ideals of sharing economy. Lyft emphasized this difference in the “Ride On The Bright Side” campaign, in which it implicitly compared itself to its biggest competitor.

3

For a long time, a defining feature of Lyft’s culture was the fact that riders were encouraged to take a front seat, talk to the driver and even fist-bump. While Uber’s focus was on creating a unified experience, Lyft’s rides were supposed to be different each time because of the unique personalities of its drivers. Lyft wanted to enable its clients to use shared rides as an opportunity to get to know new, interesting people and have fun.

4

The company started adjusting its strategy when it realized that some consumers considered its informal approach as off-putting. In order to gain more new, mainstream users, Lyft changed its stance, so as to make its brand experience more mature. First of all, it transformed its famous symbol: a big furry pink moustache attached to cars’ front bumpers was turned into a much smaller “glowstache”[2] and later replaced with Amp, a connected device, which changes colours to make Lyft cars easily identifiable[3]; it introduced a new slogan (“Rides in minutes”) and began communicating convenience rather than friendliness and fun (e.g., “Riding is the New Driving”[4]). The company also started encouraging a new, less informal code of behaviour[5] (no fist bumping or chats, no pressure to sit in the front seat, if you don’t want to). Lyft co-founder and CEO, Logan Green, told Forbes: “Our ambition — to bring people together and revamp how transportation works — is so big, we can’t be limited to the part of the market that wanted to be social in the front seat.[6]

5

On top of the aforementioned changes, designed to broaden the brand’s appeal, Lyft has also rephrased its brand purpose to place a stronger emphasis on its environmental mission, rather than on its friendly character. The company previously described itself as the brand “preferred by drivers and passengers for its respectful and friendly experience”, while now the focus is on the fact that it is “committed to effecting positive change for our cities by offsetting carbon emissions”[7]. Additionally, Lyft has widened its category to include not only car sharing but also “bikeshare systems, electric scooters, and public transit partnerships”[8].

6

Lyft is based on the mix of two archetypes: the Regular Guy as it wants to be a proposition for everyone and puts emphasis on connecting people, bringing them together and building a community as well as the Jester as it’s still a playful brand creating a much more informal experience than its main competitor, Uber.

Tagline
Most important campaigns

1. “Saying Hello In 2021 | How To Human” (2021)

2. “What Is Prop 22 | California Drivers” (2020)

3. “Nope/Yep” (2018)

4. “So, What’s Ridesharing?” (2018)

5. “Riding is the New Driving” (2016)

6. “New Year, New Lyft” (2015)

 

Official brand statement:

Lyft was founded in 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, and is available to approximately 95 percent of the United States population as well as select cities in Canada. Lyft is committed to effecting positive change for our cities by offsetting carbon emissions from all rides, and by promoting transportation equity through shared rides, bikeshare systems, electric scooters, and public transit partnerships.[9]

Interesting facts:

Lyft was launched as a short distance service of Zimride, a long distance carsharing start-up founded by Logan Green. The name Zimride comes from the combination of two words: “Zimbabwe” and “ride” and was inspired by the minivan sharing system in Zimbabwe.[10]

Must-reads

1. Marketing Dive on the “How to Human” campaign
N. Koltun, “Lyft Depicts Reopening Learning Curve In ‘How Io Human’ Ads”, Marketing Dive, May 2021,
https://www.marketingdive.com/news/lyft-depicts-reopening-learning-curve-in-how-to-human-ads/600295/ 

2. Adweek on Lyft’s new look
K. Monllos, “Lyft’s Poppy, Colorful New Look, Signature Font And Icons Are Meant To Energize The Growing Brand”, Adweek, May 2018,
https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/lyfts-poppy-colorful-new-look-signature-font-and-icons-are-meant-to-energize-the-growing-brand/

3. Bloomberg on how Lyft is building its market share
E. Newcomer, “Lyft Is Gaining On Uber As It Spends Big For Growth”, Bloomberg, Apr 2016,
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-14/lyft-is-gaining-on-uber-as-it-spends-big-for-growth

4. How Lyft is different from Uber
A. Shahani, “In The Battle Between Lyft And Uber, The Focus Is On Drivers”, NPR, Jan 2016,
http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/01/18/463473462/is-uber-good-to-drivers-it-s-relative

Sources:
References:
  1. B. Kiefer, “How Lyft Is Positioning Itself Against Rival Uber”, PR Week, Mar 2015, http://www.prweek.com/article/1338421/lyft-positioning-itself-against-rival-uber#yULCMpm4pdhBy1y2.99
  2. E. Huet, “In Branding Makeover, Lyft Lessens ‘Friendly’ Focus, Drops Fuzzy Mustache”, Forbes, Jan 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2015/01/27/lyft-branding-makeover/#41f5b2104598
  3. E. J. Schultz, “Lyft Ditches Mustache, Launches Biggest Campaign To Date”, Ad Age, Nov 2016, http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/lyft-ditches-mustache-launches-biggest-campaign-date/306755
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKbtxWBzI8E
  5. E. Huet, “In Branding Makeover, Lyft Lessens ‘Friendly’ Focus, Drops Fuzzy Mustache”, Forbes, Jan 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2015/01/27/lyft-branding-makeover/#41f5b2104598
  6. Ibid.
  7. https://www.linkedin.com/company/lyft/
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.linkedin.com/company/lyft/
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan_Green
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