Lyft: Driving Innovation in Annual Report Design

While Uber started out with the motto: “Everyone’s Private Driver,” Lyft launched with: “Your friend with a car.”
As you’ve probably already witnessed, Lyft is taking over as the cool and improved ride-sharing app in 20 cities across America, and HOW recently had the honor of recognizing Lyft for its 2017 Economic Impact Report in the HOW In-House Design Awards. The project was spearheaded by Lyft’s in-house design team, made up of Meghan Newell alongside Ellen Black, Ricardo Viramontes, Mark Teater, Shawn Norlin, Mandy Zibart and illustrator Virginie Morgand.

Lyft annual report design; economic impact report

For the uninitiated, Lyft’s Economic Impact Report jazzes up Lyft’s survey of its users. In this case, it was an 18-page pdf, a print booklet, a website and printed cards, filled with details from a whopping survey from 38,000 passengers and 15,000 drivers in 20 major cities where Lyft operates. (Side note: The surveys were conducted by the Land Econ Group). But really, Lyft wanted to show the company’s impact on passengers, drivers and the cities they operate in. “We strive to show how Lyft is positively impacting the communities it serves,” said Newell. And what better place to do that than in an annual report?
It isn’t just for the public, however; it’s mostly for government officials and bureaucrats who make decisions around the cities Lyft drives through. Keeping that in mind, Newell says it was a challenge to both bring order and clarity to the package, showing the service as a safe and solid option while supporting a brand that is known for appealing to a younger crowd (they’ve had celebrity endorsements on Instagram ad posts by Amber Rose, for example).

Lyft annual report design; economic impact report
This in-house project came about last year and had the goal of giving the public a better idea of everything good the company is doing—from saving on carbon emissions to carsharing and helping prevent drunk driving. “The key objectives were to make it easily digestible, and preserve of feeling of trust and security, in addition to being friendly and approachable,” Newell says. “I benefited from the advice of newly hired creative director Ricardo Viramontes to help me think bigger—bigger company, bigger budget, more resources; I got to do foil printing and have the budget to hire an illustrator! It was really my ideal project!”
Lyft is really gaining steam as the new Uber, so finding the right balance between seriousness and style for the package was key. Newell recalls working for Lyft in its early days, when they were a startup with just 70 people (today, they have more than 1,600 employees).
“I naturally lean into the fun and crunchy granola roots of the company [that are] my dna, as we’ve developed together, and it makes it hard for me to think of working anywhere else,” Newell says.  “Luckily, Lyft has developed a number of tools for keeping that irreverence and joy—the bright color palette and organic illustration style were the ones I employed here, balanced against strongly gridded typography.”

Lyft annual report design; economic impact report
Newell says that project was easy to execute because there weren’t as many sign-offs as there would be for a billboard campaign, for example. “Also, I didn’t need to confront as many questions about whether it was part of our core branding in the same way that I am currently considering for in-app illustration.”
The tone and style references in the piece were drawn from editorial design, like the British general interest publication Monocle magazine for typography and layouts, and The New Yorker for its illustration usage and mix with text. “They both are serious yet relevant, approachable and yet filled with style,” Newell says.
Sofia Pro was the primary font used, though the team used Sentinel as a complimentary serif. As for the playful illustrations—those were drawn by Morgand, who is informed by midcentury modern illustration and earlier naïf  illustration styles, Newell says, “but maintains a sophistication.”

The report explains how the app is helping the envoronment; 34% of people say they would avoid owning a car entirely because of Lyft, while 87% of drivers have given their neighbors a ride. “We believe in changing our streets for the better and ending the need for private car ownership,” Newell says. “We aren’t trying to be competition to public transit; we believe in bikes and walking, which are ways to end individual automobile ownership and end the gridlock and environmental havoc it promotes.”
In the end, the Lyft design team wanted to convey a clear message, while matching the tone of the copywriting with the design. “This report is a summary of the positive impact we see as our defining mission,” Newell says. “We care for our drivers, our passengers, and our communities, and we are changing transportation and our cities for the better.”

Lyft Economic Impact Report Creative Team Meghan Newell, Ellen Black, Ricardo Viramontes, Mark Teater, Shawn Norlin,  Mandy Zibart, Virginie Morgand | Details It was a challenge to both bring order to Lyft’s Economic Impact Report and to find a visual system that was inviting but still clean enough to portray the service as a safe and solid option. Multiple formats were used: a digital PDF, a print booklet, an abbreviated second print format (postcards) and a website.

See Lyft’s 2018 Economic Impact Report here.