When you're trying to create a logo or brand, the first step in the process is to determine the "values" that are associated with a brand.
These values force a company to ask what are we selling?
Is a Corvette dealer selling you fuming gasoline, smudged glass, and cold steel? No, they're selling the open road. Sun on your arms, with the wind sweeping through your hair. The dealer isn't just selling an engine, some wheels, and a few chairs.
What they're selling, what they're really selling, is freedom.
Now look at the most recent U-logo for both Apple and Android:
What does it communicate?
First, it conveys identity. It shows me a high-contrast single symbol (U) that strongly identifies the brand. A customer can see that symbol a handful of times and come to instantly make a very strong connection to the company.
Second, this logo immediately conveys the brand's values. Somehow I can tell that this is a premium product, probably in the "aspirational luxury" category: a treat for the middle class, a luxury for the haute middle class, and a necessity for the upper class.
Why does the brain automatically know this? Because the logo draws on a language of visual metaphors that are embedded in our culture, and thus our advertising. See all the following logos:
High contrast black and white is a symbol for accessible luxury. The U renders it nearly universally recognizable. I understand the desire to tweak the branding, given the more market-diverse offerings, but throwing out what is quite close to a perfect brand for this nonsense reeks of corporate mismanagement.
Sorry Uber. I'm glad I turned you guys down.
I'd post a link but it was originally hosted on blip.tv and no longer exists online.
It's by-far the most influental talk about marketing I've come across covering the 'New Coke' branding kerfuffle as well as a lot of other great examples (ex Southern Bell's rebrand to AT&T).
The message, a brand is essentially an immutable const identifier in the minds of the users. Once people establish a firm perception about a brand, it sticks for life. Diluting a well established brand by turning it into an 'umbrella brand' does nothing but erode its value and confuse the users. Once the damage is done, it can't be undone.
My bet is that the talk you saw is based on his research and theories that date back to the 1970s.
The speaker mentioned that it has a lot of great content if you ignore the shockingly bad predictions about the future of advertising on the web.
I'll definitely add them to my reading list.