Established in 2009 as RelayRides and one of the trailblazers of the sharing and collaborative economy, Turo is a car rental marketplace where local car owners make their car available to travelers (or local car-less people). Turo is available in over 2,500 cities and 300 airports. This week, Turo introduced its new name, created by Sausalito, CA-based Lexicon Branding and new identity, designed by San Francisco, CA-based DesignStudio.
So as of today, RelayRides is no more. Its new name is Turo, a name that is meant to evoke speed and adventure — think “Turbo” and “Gran Turismo.” It’s a word that fits snugly into the corporate Esperanto spoken by global tech companies. It’s sleek and fun, as is the company’s new logo, a simple clean outline of an arrow, connoting the road ahead.
The previous name and logo were as prescriptive as it gets leaving barely a question about what the service was meant to be. The name hinted at taking turns and cars while the logo, in all its crapiness, made it clear it was about sharing and being on the road. Neither the name nor logo were exciting and they had a heavy coating of start-upness. The new name, in particular, is all about shedding that image and establishing an abstract, aspirational name that is short, trendy, and has no literal meaning. Maybe in time we will come to associate “Turo” with driving strangers’ cars but for now there is no connection there, not even when you place the logo on top of images of people driving strangers’ cars. Which is not to say it’s a bad name, it’s just going to require building that brand. It’s also not to say that it’s a great name, as there is no a-ha moment where you go “Yeah, I get it, Turo!”.
The new name and logo symbolise the starting point of the journey. The identity is simple, clear and directional - encouraging all of us to get out there and start our next adventure.
The logo has the exact same problem as the name. There is no direct emotional or philosophical connection to the service. Not yet and perhaps it will in due time but with its fairly generic arrow motif there might not be enough distinction to it. It’s a perfectly-crafted logo — nice type, nice spacing, nice pointy end — but it could be for absolutely any other company, product, or service.
To reinforce how Turo is disrupting the industry, the design system utilizes editorial typography, aspirational photography, and a fresh, simple approach to color. The new name and logo symbolize the starting point of this journey. The identity is simple, clear and directional — encouraging all of us to get out there and start that next adventure.
DesignStudio provided press release
In application, where you might expect the logo to gain some traction and strength it actually has the opposite effect with the logo barely standing out as a logo and when the arrow shape is extended to come out of the edge of the layout it dilutes its form, making it look more like a layout element than the representative of the brand. The supporting typefaces — Plantin Condensed and another serif I can’t identify — are meant to add a touch of ruggedness, adventure, and hipness but they are highly disconnected from the logo. There isn’t a clear visual relationship between them other than trying to make cool-looking layouts.
The strongest asset Turo has going for it is the photography, which looks like Instagram photos on steroids with better styling, better location scouting, and professional-grade cameras. It’s heavy on the rugged adventure angle, which is clearly the brand association Turo wants to establish but in doing so I think it also has the potential to alienate someone whose car is in service or repair for a week and they just want an affordable car rental option to get from their shitty apartment to their boring job (or, as luck may have it, from their lovely home to their fulfilling job). Overall, it’s a very nicely done repositioning hitting all the right visual cues to attract a certain kind of user — i.e., relatively youthful and affluent — but it misses to come across as a cohesive identity and trying a little too hard to shed its original image that helped make the service a success in the first place.