Grab versus Uber: A Brand Difference Analysis
Photo credit: Rappler
As the news of Grab’s brand acquisition of all Uber’s Southeast Asia operations splattered across media, it kept us thinking about their brand differences. There are many factors from pricing to marketing strategies that caused the brand acquisition (at least in SEA) to happen. But we want to see how these two brand differ in a market like Southeast Asia.
First, let’s dabble into some history of both brands:
Formerly known as MyTeksi or GrabTaxi, it was envisioned by Malaysian Anthony Tan, one of the brothers of the family operating Tan Chong Motors, in 2012 after seeing the problem with local taxi service. He set up a business plan together with ex-Harvard classmate Tan Hooi Ling for a taxi-booking app.
MyTeksi was then launched in Malaysia among taxi drivers. Within 2 years the company had manage to go international after entering the Singaporean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino and Thai markets, using the name GrabTaxi.
In 2014, GrabCar was introduced, now with the ability to hire private cars as an alternative to taxi cabs. The team moved their headquarters to Singapore the same year, citing better infrastructure and ecosystem for startups like themselves.
GrabCar Logo (2014-2016)
In 2016, Grab as we know today was launched, which now includes the company’s other products into the booking system such as motorcycles, private cars, and delivery service, all with a brand new logo.
Braving legal complications and protest from taxi unions across the region in their initial stages, Grab manages to encompass an inclusivity towards taxi drivers. The move had also made their legalisation from governments quick after an agreement that the company would help improve the taxi systems in their cities.
Today, Grab boasts at a huge share of the Southeast Asian (SEA) market, with two millions driver partners, 68 million app downloads and 3.5 million daily rides.
Uber was a pioneer of the peer-to-peer ridesharing application. It was founded as UberCab in 2009 by entrepreneurs Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. Originally, UberCab was invented to book black luxury cars around San Francisco area with lower prices. However, it morphed into Uber in 2011 and introduced an option where people can use Uber to drive non-luxury cars the next year. It was called UberX and stands till today.
Together with their other options of cars to book, namely UberBLACK for luxury cars, UberX, UberPool for carpools, UberSUV and many more, they expanded all over the United States and internationally, even branching out to food delivery business with their UberEats brand.
Uber has also ventured to assist healthcare providers with UberHealth and for long-haul cargo, they have UberFreight that connects truck drivers to shipments-on-demand.
UberFreight name and logo. Photo credit: Twitter
Uber today is by far the largest ride-hailing service provider in the world, operating in almost all continents. Their innovation had stirred status quo of many countries, some of which protested heavily against them. Governments in Italy, Australia and the UK have either ban or restrict the usage of Uber while other countries like Belgium are still deciding on the legality of such services.
Uber’s brand is seen as sleek and upper-class, since it was initially meant for luxury cars providers. They have a lot of expat and tourists customers since their app is available in many parts of the world including Europe, South America, parts of Africa, the Middle East and previously in Russia and China so the brand looks exceptionally global and polished.
This positions Uber as an elite brand, appealing to professionals and urbanites. Uber riders and drivers can feel like they are experiencing a world-class service and that they are well-traveled and well-informed. And being the first to lead the ride-hailing service market, the brand appears innovative, forward-thinking and different.
The word ‘uber’ itself comes from the German word for ‘above’. In the North American slang, it means superb, excellent and modern. This further associates the brand with the upper-class, elitism and exclusivity.
On the other hand, Grab as a brand is seen less of an elitist but more of a guy-next-door brand that changes their car icon during holidays and events.
Photo credit: hardwarezone.com.sg
In November 2017, Grab had a marketing campaign with Disney’s Star Wars movie franchise. All car icons on their map was changed to spaceships in reference to the upcoming movie. During Chinese New Year, those cars would be changed to lions from the lion dances.
This resulted in a brand that appears not only fun and friendly, but also humble. Because they had include taxi cabs in their service, it was better received by both taxi unions and transport authorities in SEA countries. This inclusion makes their brand humble and non-elitist because the taxi industry is often associated with the common folk and those who cannot afford their own car.
And finally, Grab is often advertised with colourful banners, illustrations and animations. It is an eye-catching affair, as well as making them fun, a little quirky and humourous. The bright green colour Grab uses is a stark difference than Uber’s luxurious black, making their brand markedly different from their rival’s.
Whatever the differences between these two brands are, they have certainly served the public by revolutionising the way we move around. No more waving at a taxi cab or haggling for one; those days are behind us.
With the new brand acquisition, Grab has established their mark on the SEA market as the dominant brand. It’s interesting to see what they can offer and what new technology that will soon follow.