Lyft distances itself from the fist bump

Looks like Lyft is rebranding itself for a mass market appeal.

In an email sent to customers yesterday morning, the ridesharing company addressed two of Lyft’s most infamous quirks: The fist bump and front-seat riders. The message, containing “special insider info on how we roll,” told customers that the fist bump was not a requirement and a simple hello would suffice. It also instructed them to sit in the back seat if they wanted a quiet ride, and the front seat if they were looking to chat. See the message below.

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Originally mainstays of the Lyft culture, the first bump and front-seat arrangement set Lyft apart from the taxi or Uber experience. By encouraging the connection between riders and drivers, Lyft fostered a community environment, where part of the ridesharing benefit was getting to know a stranger.

Although some customers — like me — loved this part of the Lyft experience, others were less enthused. People would point to these brand elements, along with the pink mustache, as the reason they chose Uber over Lyft. They’d call it kitschy, cheesy, annoying, embarrassing.

Lyft has distanced itself from its pink mustache for awhile, giving new drivers smaller handheld pink mustaches for their dashboard instead of the conspicuous furry bumper-mounted contraptions it started out with. And with today’s email, it looks like the fist bump and front-seat ride are also on their way out.

After this story published, Lyft spokesperson Katie Dally told me the company doesn’t consider this a rebrand, and fist bumps are “always welcome.”

Lyft may be capitalizing on the critical media firestorm surrounding Uber. A rush of Uber passengers, including myself, deleted the app or their account after an Uber executive threatened to dig into journalists’ personal lives to “give them a taste of their own medicine.” Lyft, smartly, stayed out of the fray and chose not to comment on its competitor’s misfortune, aside from telling Venturebeat it had a record week in terms of usage.

It didn’t ignore the new passengers coming its way.


Update: This story has been updated to include Lyft’s comment and the correction that the email was sent Tuesday, not Wednesday.