Through the years, the UPS logo has evolved to reflect the evolving business strategy of the company. But during each redesign, the changes were gradual.
Evolution of UPS’s four logos
UPS worked with FutureBrand, a global branding and marketing consultancy, for nearly two years on strategic research and detailed planning leading up to its March 2003 rebranding. As part of the rebranding, UPS adopted its fourth logo, marking the first change in the logo in 42 years.
The most visible change was the removal of the bow-tied package above the UPS shield, symbolizing UPS’s expansion from package delivery into a broader array of supply chain services. For the past 10-plus years, UPS has developed an extensive array of supply chain services to complement its package delivery expertise. In fact, in a period of three years, the company made more than 25 acquisitions to expand its supply chain capabilities, including freight services via ground and air, as well as ocean and rail; financial services; business mail services; and 3,000 retail locations with The UPS Store™.
Quite simply, the bow-tied package restrained UPS’s ability to represent these new services. (And although it did not heavily influence the decision to remove the package, strings are no longer appropriate because they can get caught in UPS’s modern automated sorting systems.)
Paul Rand, a renowned brand designer, created UPS’s third logo in 1961. The logo significantly simplified UPS’s identity, using a bow-tied package above the familiar shield to express the mission of the company. At that time, package delivery was UPS’s sole service offering.
UPS’s second logo was unveiled around 1937 and included another mainstay of the company’s identity - which was simply “UPS,” for United Parcel Service. By this time, the company had grown significantly and was providing delivery of merchandise for multiple retail department stores. Incorporated into the logo was the phrase, “THE DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR STORES OF QUALITY.”
UPS’s first logo was adopted in 1916, not long after UPS founder Jim Casey merged his company with a local rival delivery service. It established the prominent shield that continues today. (In fact, UPS employees still refer to the company’s logo as the “shield.”) The original logo features an eagle carrying a package with the words “SAFE, SWIFT, SURE” emblazoned on the side. Those qualities of reliable service endure today.
The UPS Logo
"The new UPS logo still conveys the essence of UPS, the spirit of service and excellence we've built as the world's leading package delivery company. But it expands its meaning to reflect the broader services now available to customers." John Beystehner, Chief Operating Officer, UPS and President, UPS Airlines
Although UPS was founded in 1907, its logo first appeared in 1919 in the design of a shield and the shield remains to this day. This design reflects integrity and reliability, not only of the company itself but also of the people behind it: drivers, management, front-line package handlers and today, thousands of other UPSers from consultants to warehouse managers.
Although the old logo failed to reflect the new capabilities of UPS, it was critical that any changes communicate an evolution, not a departure from the company's established expertise.
The result is a new shield designed to maintain the positive attributes of the old, while extending its meaning and giving it an energized look. The package with the bow above the shield has been removed, giving the logo room to communicate the many other capabilities of today's UPS. The actual look of the new logo gives it a stronger visual presence. Colors have been filled in for more impact and the UPS name increased in size. For even greater visual impact, the shield gained a three-dimensional appearance.
Defining UPS: "Synchronizing the World of Commerce"
FutureBrand concluded that no terminology existed for the unique approach UPS was applying to its customers' businesses, leveraging the package delivery network and intellectual capital to provide for the coordinated movement of goods, information and funds.
Thus the term "Synchronized Commerce" was developed to define the expanded category in which UPS competes. The phrase, "Synchronizing the World of Commerce," now will appear on UPS aircraft, delivery vehicles, packaging and other assets to remind customers that a broad portfolio of services is available - all from one company, UPS.
Keep the Brown
It's a little known fact that when UPS first began using motor vehicles for delivery, they were painted different colors so the public would know there was more than one package car at work. Brown was adopted as the color for uniforms and delivery vehicles in 1916 and by 1929, the entire UPS fleet was brown. UPS chose the brown that was used on Pullman rail cars because it reflected elegance and professionalism, and dirt is less visible on uniforms and vehicles. UPS registered two trademarks on brown, including one to prevent other delivery companies from using the color for vehicles or clothing.
Over the years, UPS branding executives have brainstormed the idea of changing the familiar chocolate brown package cars to tan, bronze, silver or even a multi-colored fleet. Khaki shirts also were reviewed once. But research among customers and UPS employees has always reinforced support for brown.
Instead of changing the primary color, UPS is adding vibrant colors to the company's master design palette - reds, blues and even bright green. By creating the new color palette, UPS can add a system of brand control while providing design flexibility that energizes various print designs.
The Management Challenge
"We've always known that the UPS brand touches people millions of times worldwide each day, but the true magnitude of that truly came to life as we assessed how many places and how many ways our visual icon would have to change." Gary Mastro, UPS Vice President of Brand and Product Marketing
It may seem quite simple to change a logo. But for UPS, changing the brand mark has a ripple effect across literally millions of branded assets and thousands of locations throughout the world. The costs could be staggering if the project were not managed with extreme diligence.
It is impossible to calculate how many places and how many times the UPS shield appears each day. There are more than 2,100 different internal and external forms alone on which the logo appears.
Once senior management approved the initiative, an extensive cross-functional team of branding experts, industrial engineers, plant engineers, procurement managers, technologists and communications managers were brought together to ensure the project's success. The team had a firm deadline of six months to finalize the application of the new look on branded UPS assets and to roll out the project internally and externally in a coordinated, synchronized unveiling. The decision was made from the beginning that it should be kept as confidential as possible, making the challenge even greater.
The team began the process with an exhaustive audit to determine what would change and when. Core areas were identified to provide a focused approach and sub-teams were established to address each area. The teams then set out to apply the new design strategy to everything from software packaging to print collateral to livery assets such as vehicles and aircraft.