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Behind the Design of Lyft’s Glowstache

Behind the Design of Lyft’s Glowstache
Advertising

An inside look at how the ridesharing service matured its pink-hot brand

Kiran Umapathy
  • 24 february 2015

If you’ve been following branding news recently, you may be aware that ridesharing service Lyft refreshed its iconic and quirky icon, the pink furry mustache.

While the large mustache encouraged brand visibility and adoption in its early stages, it did not come without disadvantages.

It was cumbersome and drivers frequently had to secure it to their vehicles. It was difficult to keep clean and hard to see at night, often one of the busiest times for drivers. With a growing number of users, not everyone was keen to the idea of rolling up to a serious business meeting in cars flaunting the furry symbol.

Lyft-furry-mustache.jpg
Lyft tasked design studio Ammunition, known for its work with Adobe, Beats by Dr. Dre and Polaroid, with helping them conceive a more functional update for its brand. Lyft wanted to keep the fun and unexpected delight the symbol inspired, but evolve into a truly useful tool for both passengers and drivers.

New Design

glowstache-5.jpg
The new product is called the Glowstache and is the result of a collaborative effort between Lyft, Ammunition and engineering partner, Mindtribe. It’s smaller and made from more durable materials. It stays locked on driver dashboards with the help of a magnetic base and removable adhesive. Because it lights up, it’s a far more functional symbol at nighttime and features a pulsing waiting mode so that passengers can locate their drivers’ vehicles easily. The Glowstache’scharge lasts 18-24 hours under normal usage and a glowing ring notifies drivers when it has approximately 4 hours of power left (an average shift) before it needs to be charged via USB.

Design Considerations

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The collaborative process explored many routes to find the right balance between playful and functional. Concepts included hood ornaments, suction cups, LED lights, propellers and utilized 3D printing. Even the possibility of scrapping the mustache altogether was considered. In the end, the teams realized that the symbol was such a recognizable and integral part of the brand that the revamped version should reflect more an evolution than an overhaul.

“What may seem like a simple object had many design challenges,” Grégoire Vandenbussche, Ammunition’s lead designer on the project told PSFK. “The Glowstache doesn’t have any flat surfaces, making it fairly complicated to create in 3D. It’s closer to the process of creating a sculpture than designing the average consumer electronic device.”

glowstache-design-process-1.jpg

Here are some areas carefully considered in the design:

Location – It became clear that the symbol needed to stay inside the car. This would keep it cleaner, avoid theft, or damage in the case of an accident. It would eliminate the need for drivers to have to adjust the mustache on the exterior of the car.

Installation – A magnetic base was selected because it made placement of the Glowstache easy for drivers. Knowing that the mount (although easily removable) would remain on dashboards even when the Glowstache was removed meant careful consideration into how it looked. It couldn’t resemble valuable electronic items that may attract the attention of thieves and encourage break-ins.

Size – It had to be large enough to be noticeable, yet lightweight and portable enough for removal or carrying. Many drivers also use other ridesharing services like Sidecar and Uber.

Brightness – It had to be bright enough to be seen at night in a car with headlights on, yet not too bright to interfere with safe driving. Conversely, it had to be energy efficient enough to maintain a long battery life.

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Usability – Making the Glowstache as simple as possible for drivers to use was a priority. It has one simple button to toggle between ‘on,’ ‘off’ and ‘waiting’ modes so as not to distract them from safe operation of their vehicles. The base and Glowstache had to be carefully designed to work well with many different styles of vehicle dashboards and allow drivers to change the angle of the Glowstache to remain viewable from the outside.

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Color Matching – The Glowstache had to match Pantone specifications of Lyft’s magenta brand color. This became challenging to perfect when accounting for how the light within the device altered it.

Legal – There are limitations on what kinds of lighted objects can be in cars. The Glowstache also could not appear too red or blue so as not to be confused with police or emergency vehicles.

Field Testing – Ammunition and Lyft brought in engineering consultants at Mindtribe to help test prototypes. It paid careful attention to how Lyft passengers reacted to the Glowstache to see if it inspired a sense of delight.

Packaging

One less talked about element of the design process was the packaging. “We saw the Glowstache as an opportunity to create a physical icon for the Lyft brand,” said Vandenbussche. “We wanted to create something both useful and playful that would also feel like a reward for drivers.”

glowstache-packaging.gif
The triangular box shape was chosen to set it apart from other packaging and make it feel like more of a gift. Inside, a tube not only acts as protection during shipping, but can also be reused for storage or a carrying case when drivers are not working. An inner foam keeps it secure and houses the Glowstache, a magnetic base and its USB charging cable. The kit comes complete with a quick-start instructional guide and dashboard-cleaning wipes. Ammunition also worked with Lyft on the tone and communication style on the packaging.

Lyft is rolling out the Glowstache to drivers across the country in the coming weeks and months.

Initial response has been favorable. “The reaction to the Glowstache has been incredibly positive so far,” shares Vandenbussche. “Drivers have shared feedback that Glowstache is simple to use, and that it makes driving easier and more fun. We’ve also seen drivers take to Twitter to thank Lyft and post photos of their new Glowstache in action.”

You can see more photos of the Glowstache under the social hashtag #GLOWMO.

LyftAmmunition | Mindtribe

Image Credits: Lyft and Alfredo Mendez

+advertising
+Ammunition Group
+Automotive
+Brand Development
+Design
+Design Update
+Glowstache
+Grégoire Vandenbussche
+lyft
+Mindtribe
+Product Launch
+technology
+work

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