When you hear “ridesharing” one of two names likely comes to mind: Uber, or Lyft. While Uber has been dominating in the rideshare category, Lyft seems to be adopting the “slow and steady wins the race” mentality, keeping their heads down and their fists bumping. However, Lyft has made a few headlines lately as they put their foot to the gas: Sites are rumoring Lyft’s next big round of funding and their plans to update the brand.
But, where did it all start? How has Lyft come to be one of the big names in the ridesharing takeover? Let’s take a look at where the company started, where it’s been, and what exciting changes seem to be in its future.
The Evolution of Lyft
We’re taking it all the way back to 2007, folks: Alongside happenings like the last Harry Potter book, Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone, and Chinese-made toy recalls, co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green launched Zimride. This initial startup was purposed for long trips, typically from city to city, by which riders and drivers connected via Facebook. (Think college kids connecting for rides home for the holidays.) Five years later, in the summer of 2012 (after some adversity with Zimride and experimentation with other ideas), Zimmer & Green launched Lyft as a service of Zimride. Lyft was created for shorter peer-to-peer rides with the underlying goal to change the way people got from place to place, and to reinvent how people thought of riding with “strangers.”
After experiencing initial success with the idea, and casting a new vision for the direction of the company, Zimride offically changed its name to Lyft just a year later. Zimmer reported to TechCrunch that the thought driving Lyft’s unique model was, “How do we design delight and happiness into every Lyft?”. So, naturally we have Lyft’s tagline: “Your friend with a car.”
Today, Lyft’s model is casual and friendly. Your driver will greet you with a fist-bump and invite you to sit in the front passenger’s seat. You will likely share conversation and smiles, and hey, maybe your driver will even bring you a sandwich. Their business model revolves around the simple idea that building community is key, from rider to drivers alike.
And what about Uber? Obviously, Lyft has a completely different brand strategy. A “more jovial and interactive social experience than simply getting into the back of a slick black car,” reports co-founder John Zimmer. And what about Lyft’s bat-signal: the pink mustache? Was this part of the light and high-spirited business model? Apparently, Lyft’s original target audience was women. Hence, the bright-pink logo.
The $850 million company has made a name for itself and maintained paced behind Uber (valued at $41 billion), David-and-Goliath style. But what’s next?
It seems that big talks in the industry are humming about Lyft’s next round of funds (somewhere in the neighborhood of hundreds of millions, sources say). And in addition to what sounds like it will be a very successful financing season, Lyft is updating their brand. In a recent blog post on their website, Lyft noted that they will be “rolling into 2015 with a brand new look.”
Ditching the iconic giant, pink, fuzzy-stache adorned on the grill of every drivers’ car, Lyft is giving drivers a new and improved “Glowstache”: a banana-sized mustache that will mount magnetically to the dashboard. True to its name, the Glowstache does in fact light up at night. In accordance with the brand update, Lyft’s app has also adopted a sleeker, most sophisticated appearance. But why the change? Wendy Bolhuis with VIM Group Brand Implementation says that an outdated image is one of the top ten reasons companies decide to make changes to their brand:
“One of the most common reasons for undertaking a corporate rebranding project is modernization. Trends mean that over time brands come across as old-fashioned if they have not been updated.”
We also spoke to Harry Campbell, founder and owner of blog and podcast The Rideshare Guy, who shared some interesting insight into Lyft’s new look:
“I think Lyft’s makeover has been a long time coming. The furry pink mustache was a great marketing tactic at first but it also turned off a lot of drivers and more importantly passengers. Going forward, I think Lyft is going to try and retain some of its community roots but at the same time they know that they have to appeal to a wider population.”
So, it appears that Lyft will continue to keep their heads down, working hard and taking these new steps towards hopeful success. Campbell also noted his thoughts that “this change is just the first of many that we will see in the future in order to help Lyft appeal to a broader customer base. For passengers and drivers alike, more competition is always a good thing.”
Only time will tell how their financing and branding efforts will pan out, but until then, we’ll continue to keep our eyes on our friends with a car.
What do you think about Lyft’s renovations? Will you miss their fuzzy ‘staches?