Careem, the MENA region’s leading car-hailing app unveiled a new identity marking its fourth anniversary in regional markets. The Berries interviewed Christian Eid, Careem’s VP of Marketing to get the inside scoop on the rebranding of Careem.
BB: Careem, the MENA region’s leading car-hailing app unveiled a new identity marking its fourth anniversary in regional markets. Does this come with a new brand communications strategy for Careem?
CE:YES! The rebrand marked an important milestone for our organization. Branding was never something that we had properly understood, nor focused on. We thankfully had a fantastic product that sold itself and our growth was driven predominantly organically. We were synonymous to reliability and quality, hence making us the transport method of choice.
Over time, we started to notice that people didn’t really know what we actually stood for. In short, most were just riding with us due to our sheer quality, and though that was awesome, we wanted people to know what we stood for. We wanted people to know that we were mission driven and that we were committed to having a positive impact across our communities. We wanted our mission to spread. In turn, we launched the rebrand to both mark a great milestone in our accomplishment and also to tell our story…properly. Naturally this new strategy came with a full revised communication strategy to reinforce our mission.
BB: Just before Careem unveils its new look, the company teamed up with Etisalat to bring to the scene a new payment option “Careem Wallet”. Did this partnership have an impact on the rebranding?
CE: Partnerships remain one of our best performing growth channels and thankfully we have been lucky to work with most of our region’s biggest brands. The Etisalat partnership simply coincided with our rebrand but did not play a strategic role in it’s launch campaign. On the other hand, the awareness and popularity of the partnership definitely helped build the momentum up until the new brand launch.
BB: How can you revamp an identity of a regional brand yet appeal to locals using Careem in their country ?
CE: Appealing to your market is the single most determining factor to creating a real local brand. To successfully achieve that you have to be dedicated to localization as well as developing a deep understanding of who you are serving. For us, we are from the region and for the region. We are a growing family of colleagues deeply integrated into our communities and passionate about being a representation of our region’s present and future. The rebrand was an extensive exercise of research, reflection and radical thinking. We wanted to create a brand that was synonymous with personal and easy, while staying completely local. You can definitely achieve this if you do it strategically. Our rebrand for example was a multiphase project that spanned over 5 months of transition. First we change the hue of the green, then we removed the dark blue from our palette, then changed our tone of voice, then introduced storytelling, then integrated illustrations, and eventually we changed our logo. With a deep understanding our your market and a well-designed strategy, you can successful revamp any brand, just make sure it resonates.
BB: Does Careem- as a brand- plans to go global or retain its position as a regional brand that caters to the Arab world audience?
CE: For now, and much of the foreseeable future, Careem will be our brand. It will be the greater Middle East’s game changing brand that will help the region drive change. With almost 50 cities we have only scratched the surface of the opportunity. There are 700 million people in our region that are still looking for a better way to get around.
BB: The launching campaign of a rebranding is a make it or break it. Why did Careem chose to launch its new identity with a video on social media that was instrumental to announcing the new brand?
CE: The launch strategy definitely wasn’t conventional, but then again neither is Careem. Over the last few years we had begun to realize that what we were doing wasn’t like anything that was done before and that, though there might be lots we can learn from our region’s successes, we needed to challenge the typical path that brands take. We needed to rethink the process and redesign the reveal strategy. We wanted to shake the region and spark a new wave of thinking where content would take the lead. Our mission is simple. We want to simplify and improve the lives of people and build an awesome institution that inspires. To inspire, you have to do things differently. You have to be unique and dare people to lead with their creativity. As a startup, we have an eagerness to stand apart and challenge the status quo.
Further, our brand is all about being cheeky. In short, that’s what the wink is really about. It’s about spreading smile across our communities and adding a bit of humour and cheekiness to everything we do. The human slingshot was quite successful in spreading smile and being extra cheeky. It was a good representation of who we are at our core. We are bold, local, fun, and definitely a cheeky startup that won’t do things by the book.
Finally, to be safe, we also ran a parallel traditional rebrand comms plan with our users through our direct channels and social media. We covered all of our bases to make sure everyone understood the new brand and positioning was about. We couldn’t have bet on the slingshot being so successful.
BB: The new identity of Careem has an embedded smiling face into the logo instead of the drop pin in the old logo. Does this new icon signal nurture to a new emotional connection between the company and app users?
CE: Yes. Exactly that. Our new icon is all about spread smiles across our communities. We think of our community 3 sets of stakeholders. Captains, Customers and Colleagues. Success to us is the betterment of as many lives as possible across our communities and our logo encompasses that mission perfectly. We are a personal and easy brand focused on hyper localization.
BB: Following the rebrand, Careem Egypt took two bold moves, acquiring the government white taxi fleet and the water taxi. How can Careem position itself as the transportation app of choice in Egypt shoulder-to-shoulder with the global rivals?
CE: Careem is from the region and for the region. We are a mission driven organization that puts forward the betterment and progression of our region. Our brand stands side by side with our communities, not our competitors, and works hard at making sure we empower and enable the region towards a better tomorrow. We are deeply entrenched in all of our market, especially in Egypt, and our commitment is rooted in our genetic make-up.
BB: Some of the criticism that Careem is facing is that in comparison with other competitors, Careem is a commodity not a brand experience. How can you refute this criticism ? Does the new identity come with a new brand experience for Careem users ? Please elaborate.
CE: Our rebrand is aimed at further developing the Careem experience and truly making it an awesome one. Critics ensure that we never stop improving our service and pushing our capabilities. We would never refute any criticism and in fact encourage it to ensure we continue progressing. The new identity is revisiting and redesigning the entire Careem journey for Captains, Customers and Colleagues. We can only hope that the feedback will be shared directly with us so that we can tackle them head on and improve our experience immediately.