Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
UPS Says Bye-bye to Rand
ATLANTA, March 25, 2003 — UPS today unveiled a “new look” that includes the first redesign in more than 40 years of the company’s famous “shield” logo.

First of all, go see it. We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later. One day there will be no memory of Rand’s logos (which should make Chantry a happy man.)

Two years in development, the new look was created by FutureBrand (who could use a new look of their own) giving the guys at Landor a small break from huge money-making clients. I’m not going to go into much detail here, it’s all in the media kit (1.8Mb PDF) but there is one thing that got my attention about the logo: “For even greater visual impact, the shield gained a three-dimensional appearance.” To me that reads as “The logo was weak, but with the added dimension (and higher production costs) it looks like a better brand.” Any time you have to add greater “visual impact” to a logo it’s not a great sign of the logo’s strengths.

Anyway, UPS also bought Mail Boxes Etc. and they will now be known as the UPS Store. More work for FutureBrand.

Thanks for all the great years Rand, the little bow-tied package will be missed.

Thanks to Todd for the heads up

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 1403 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Mar.25.2003 BY Armin
Darrel’s comment is:

Hmm...that home page looks familiar.

I guess I'm underwhelmed by it...a vaguely conceptual blurred photo...a '3Dized' logo, and a meaningless tagline. Haven't we all seen this before?

Though I do give them 2 points for figuring out how to use brown nicely. That's really hard to do.

Purchasing MailBoxes Etc. was an interesting move.

On Mar.25.2003 at 09:21 AM
Jon’s comment is:

Wow. This was one of those that I just assumed would never change.

Now how do I feel about this? Nostalgia doesn't really grow your business, and UPS (like FedEx) is much more than its package delivery service. So I guess I like the idea of rebranding them so they can grow for the future. But, the logo is crap. It is devoid of new ideas, and even ads a very old and overused one - the horizon swoosh. Plus, this 3d thing seems to be Futurebrand's trademark these days. It seems more like a trend than good design.

Ok, the shield. Well, it definitely communicates trust and stability, since the company's 98-year history didn't... I'd have much preferred them to junk everything (except brown) and really stake out some new brand space than to neuter the logo into a generic graphic.

And how about that corporate tagline: "Synchronizing The World Of Commerce" ? Thank goodness no humans will be involved in this enterprise.

Oh goodness...I'm just horrified.

On Mar.25.2003 at 11:57 AM
Dan’s comment is:

As much as Landor bugs me (or makes me jealous?), whenever I pull up next to a FedEx truck I just stare at that secret white arrow in the logo and think, "Nice."

I don't really see myself doing that with the new UPS shield. It's just another streamlined version of an old logo. The swooshy shape pointing off into the future (or however they try to explain it) is such a typical fallback solution these days.

On Mar.25.2003 at 12:06 PM
armin’s comment is:

I was just going through their brand release site and I came across the logo without the greater visual impact, and just as I thought, not very appetizing:

And the logo in black and white? Yuck!

Looks kind of cool in some of its applications.

I saw the logo and I went “wow,” and for a moment there I thought it was kind of cool. Mainly because of the change I guess. It is a stronger logo, looks more dependable and reliable. But it does fall under a lot of design clichés. In 20 years, when the UPS logo becomes an icon we will be able to say with confidence that “we never really liked it.” As long as google has this page cached.

There is something I like about it though. Not sure what it is.

On Mar.25.2003 at 12:22 PM
Damien’s comment is:

The logo also looks a little friendlier - and the highlight really helps in making it pronounced on screen. I wonder if they'll change their notice stickers too ? (when you're not around to pick up your package)

I worked on ups.com when I was at Studio Archetype. Actually coded some of their home pages, among other things. So I will find it sad to see my ex-colleagues' work go away.

From experience, it takes a lot to make such a grand change to UPS. So this must have been quite an experience for futurebrand.

On Mar.25.2003 at 12:49 PM
graham’s comment is:

never understand stuff like this (in a philosophical and emotional sense); apart from the fact that it's shit, it's not different enough from the original to be any real development, and it's no better than the original, which makes it shit (imo) and pointless. which is pretty hard to achieve. sorry if this is a bit unreasoned but i'm sick of this kind of crap. 3d makes it better. yeah right.

On Mar.25.2003 at 12:55 PM
Jon’s comment is:

And the logo in black and white? Yuck!

A lesson I learned in school: if it ain't working in black and white, it ain't working. I still find it very valid.

On Mar.25.2003 at 01:03 PM
Sam’s comment is:

I rather like the shield--the asymmetry within the boundaries of the shape is very nicely balanced. However, I am fouled in my appreciation by the childish and just plain stupid type. Each letter is wrong wrong wrong! The "u" is neutered without a tail (or foot or finial); The "p" is bloated in the way it swells up over the other two, which does nothing to give height to the center element (if that was the aim); and the "s"--which looks like Gill to me but isn't, surely--is so sharp in contrast to the doughy flab of the other two. I drop my shoe in protest! By jickity!

It's an unserious typeface to build such a major brand out of. At least they didn't use Bodega Sans, which ruins every trip to the post office.

However, I think it was right not to reflect or echo Rand's envelope. I'm sure the temptation was there.

On Mar.25.2003 at 01:03 PM
Jon’s comment is:

an unserious typeface

It looks like Dax Condensed to me, with some redrawing of the 's' glyph. I don't dislike the typeface, but I'm not feeling it here.

On Mar.25.2003 at 01:09 PM
brook’s comment is:

it just wasnt a very intelligent solution. others have already said above, but what the hell does it mean?

i think the company viewed themselves as SO diversified that a logo with ANY meaningful representation of ANY aspect of their business wouldn't have told the entire story. but that's crap.

it's not timeless, it's not that memorable...well it does keep brand recognition by staying with the same basic shape i guess.

this example is going to come out of nowhere, but...

one of my professors in school did some identity work for steve jobs & co when they were starting up Next. They liked his ideas for the logo a lot, and were just about to sign off on it. Then they were shown that crappy cube thing (I can't remember who did that for sure). To me that cube doesn't really say anything. But my professor's was so simple and so meaningful. and I can actually depict it below just by typing it.


it just says so much about what they wanted to do.

On Mar.25.2003 at 02:39 PM
Eric’s comment is:

A genuinely pointless update. Add a highlight, modernize the typography (without significantly improving it), preserve some emotion-triggering colors...presto.

It seems to me like they're just trying to pull a Kentucky Fried Chicken here, where they ditch some old baggage by going with an "acronym" brand. Time will tell if it sinks in or not, but it doesn't seem like a successful re-design to me right now.

On Mar.25.2003 at 02:54 PM
Jon’s comment is:

Time will tell if it sinks in or not

This might be heresy to say such a thing, but UPS is so ingrained in our culture and business worlds that this may be a case where a poor corporate logo really won't hurt the company. I still believe strongly, though, that a great new identity could really help them.

On Mar.25.2003 at 03:02 PM
Damien’s comment is:

Time will tell if it sinks in or not

Often rebranding initiatives fail because the organization itself doesn't behave in the way it is trying to reposition itself as.

Its a little off topic - but in the UK, the Royal Mail, the country's postal service went through an insane rebranding, brand architecture and positioning situation.

It wasn't really because of bad logos - but partly because the actual groups of companies involved couldn't all get behind the initiative and present a clear representation of the new organization.

A problem was that it was trying to behave like a private sector organization with a history of being government owned.

I don't think UPS will fall into this trap - but as it is trying to slightly reposition itself and tell a story of its potential future - time will tell whether it lives up to it or not.

On Mar.25.2003 at 03:19 PM
armin’s comment is:

>but it doesn't seem like a successful re-design to me right now.

I would say it is succesful in what they were looking for, to reinvigorate their brand. In that, they did a pretty good job, it's a logo that, whether we like it or not, is up to date. Obviously, as designers, we are very biased because of the longevity and familiarity of Rand's logo. But always ask yourself this: "what would you have done?" then it strikes you that it's not as easy as it seems. How the hell do you preserve so much brand equity, which I think they did really well by simply keeping the brown, while doing something that looks contemporary and that ideally could become timeless.

Like we've discussed already, the brand is much more than the logo and we'll have to see how UPS supports its mark with the rest of their materials. I think that's where the mark will really strive, all shiny in UPS' trucks and in the packaging. In uniforms, in TV, ads.

>and it's no better than the original

I think that is kind of unfair, because in my opinion Rand's logo wasn"t that good, it was just very familiar and everybody, from school to employers, has told you that it is a great logo, but is it really?

I'm not defending the new UPS logo, I'm just trying to see it from all angles.

On Mar.25.2003 at 03:20 PM
herman’s comment is:

it's always interesting how a design/brand firm seems to appear outta nowhere (maybe it was a merger or something that created futurebrand, i don't know) to become the firm of the moment and do away with our design fathers worked so hard to achieve.

a few buzzwords over here, a little "will-do-WHATEVER-you want, butt smooching over there and BINGO, the rand brand is history. BUT we must give futurebrand credit for some really nice brand work, Haagen-Dazs, GlaxoSmithKline (sounds like a law firm, doesn't it?) and British Airways.

And although Terra and MSN are great brands they look like they were created on the same day. The "my grandmother-could-have-done-that" brand goes to "Coca-Cola Olympic 02" where they just joined the coke brand on top of the olympic brand (that took some serious research and development time, i'm sure).

I agree with Graham on UPS: "it's not different enough from the original to be any real development, and it's no better than the original, which makes it...pointless", but it does bring back memories of the early eighties (for some of us) when we learned photoshop and wanted to apply every filter there was when creating a logo,...well, futurebrand has achieved our goal, or at least that's what the new UPS looks like.

On Mar.25.2003 at 03:43 PM
graham’s comment is:

armin: i didn't say that i thought rand's logo was that good either-i was sort of damning with faint praise.

herman: yes-photoshop filters (although the chrome is nice), and i think i sense a little touch of the old airbrush in there as well.

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:05 PM
DavidR’s comment is:

it looks like an acorn.

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:15 PM
JD’s comment is:

Brook, about the NEXT logo, Paul Rand did it!


Who was your professor?

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:19 PM
Eric’s comment is:

>in my opinion Rand's logo wasn"t that good

I quite agree. But my initial impression of the new one is that it's not even as not-that-good as the original.

As you point out, the old one at least had familiarity going for it. The new one doesn't even have that *yet*.

What would *I* do? I'm still trying to answer that question. I haven't come up with a satisfying answer. Even though I don't like how the logo has been changed (*yet*), I do appreciate what a daunting task it must have been to attempt it in the first place.

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:34 PM
Jon’s comment is:

the NEXT logo

It was Rand, and I quite liked it. The Next computer itself was a black box, and the logo mimicked it. Now, as for overall strategy, tying your logo so closely to your main product is not necessarily very long-term. Seeing how Next didn't last very long, that point is moot.

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:38 PM
DavidR’s comment is:

Future Brand...I worked there in a non-designer capacity when the company was called Diefenbach Elkins...thoroughly unpleasant place. They were working on a major rebranding of Woolworth's (heard of it?)

They changed the name to Venator Group...http://www.venatorgroup.com. Heard of it?

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:39 PM
Damien’s comment is:

I don't understand Graham's comment on why the new logo needed to be 'that' different from the first to be any real development.

Its a 'refresh' - not an entirely new look.

The new logo is the way UPS wants to look today. And perhaps in looking at all the elements of UPS's branding, it tried to stick with those that had the most equity in them and do the best it could.

Working on the Window's logo - refreshing the 'windows' had very few options but to go 3D direction like the desktop OS's were.

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:40 PM
felix’s comment is:

it also deserves mention that this new hideously unoriginal UPS logo dilutes

years of equity (i hate that word) built around the color brown.

Q: what can brown (and 3-D yellow visual impact) do for you?

A: not shit

On Mar.25.2003 at 04:59 PM
Jon’s comment is:

>dilutes years of equity

I'm not sure how this new identity dilutes the brown equity. They are keeping the color, although they do have some secondary colors. If those secondary colors begin to overwhelm the brown, then, yes, you do dilute the strength in the core color.

On Mar.25.2003 at 05:12 PM
felix’s comment is:

in my opinion adding 3D white/yellow invades the solid brown while increasing production costs. just a bad, trendy execution.

the mark itself reminds me of Budget (w/ the implied road "swoosh") and some sort of breakfast cereal / chocolate drink treat.

On Mar.25.2003 at 05:29 PM
future felix’s comment is:

"Future Brand...thoroughly unpleasant place. "

- david

yeah, i just went to their site- www.futurebrand.com -just another in a long eternal line of Landor wanna-bees. Only this firm seems to rely soley on 3D spheres (GSK,UPS,Brit Air) swooshes (GSK, Fleet) and the typeface theyve used on the UPS mark. I'm suprised they didnt have a new "brand" buzz term on their opening page. then again they ARE a buzzword.

someone has to shine turds like UPS.

Let it be a big "brand" firm.

On Mar.25.2003 at 05:48 PM
Jon’s comment is:

>just a bad, trendy execution

I hear that!

On Mar.25.2003 at 06:05 PM
armin’s comment is:

>someone has to shine turds like UPS.

There should be a category in all design annuals: "Turd Shining." Next to "Branding." It could evolve into a great book after a few years later, even have its own buzzwords (too tired to come up with any.)

>adding 3D white/yellow invades the solid brown while increasing production costs.

That is one of my main cons towards this logo. Especially for a company that requires so many applications. Controlling the quality of reproduction for that logo is going to be a big pain in the ass.

Luckily, there is a brand standards manual somewhere that will keep everything in par. Right Feluxe?

On Mar.25.2003 at 06:16 PM
JD’s comment is:

Felix, I don't think FutureBrand's portfolio is all THAT bad.

Aren't pretty much ALL the brand agencies Landor wanna-be's?

And isn't pretty much ALL of this stuff "polishing a turd" (from the movie "Christine")?

On Mar.25.2003 at 06:49 PM
graham’s comment is:

the thing about the whole 'refresh' (really?) thing is that i just think it's a waste of time. i can't be more rational than that about it because the whole concept of 'tweaking' logos &c leaves me scratching my head. in the few situations i've experienced this kind of work, no one can provide a logical argument for why they're actually doing what they're doing-it just is to be done and the process propells itself forward until you've got a 'refresh'. so what? maybe someone else can make more sense of it, but every 'refresh' i've ever seen is (a) various degrees of less interesting than the original and (b) weak. half-hearted. a slight shift. indecisive.

these things always tend to be more indicative of a lack of confidence to me when the people doing them think they're making some kind of bold, progressive, maybe even 'edgy', 'refresh'.

On Mar.26.2003 at 01:56 AM
brook’s comment is:

> Brook, about the NEXT logo, Paul Rand did it!

Who was your professor?

haha. funny stuff. Bob Appleton http:www.robertappleton.com. it's weird because they contacted him pretty much out of nowhere, and he never found out who gave them his name or where they found it, etc.

On Mar.26.2003 at 07:34 AM
armin’s comment is:

Did anybody watch the TV ads for UPS last night? The ads itself were ok, they had some weird boxes going around, I really didn't get it. I did dig the logo animation in the end. Nothing new or groundbreaking but some nice eye candy. It has really nice motion.

On Mar.26.2003 at 08:59 AM
Ben’s comment is:

I'm curious to know what made UPS think they needed a rebranding. Research? A new brand manager?

And it's not like any shop is going to turn down a client, but I would think it would be very interesting to see something in a shop's portfolio where they purposely didn't change something because it just made better sense not to... like if UPS came to FB to change their identity and they said "Why the hell would you want to do that? It's perfectly alright, and known around the world. Go back home and spend your money wisely." If an agency told me that I would be shocked and delighted, agreeing that they did the right thing.

On Mar.26.2003 at 09:49 AM
Jon’s comment is:

where they purposely didn't change something

Interestingly enough, I'm involved in a project like this right now. Obviously, I can't mention the client, but it is definitely a situation where the core identity should not be messed with, and the change will come in the surrounding elements.

what made UPS think they needed a rebranding

I was thinking about this as well. I can understand their desire to make their other services more apparent. I'm wondering if they did research that showed them the current mark was inhibiting their businesses growth. I would be surprised to learn that the 'package' element of the old logo was a big hindrance. Their press release states that "ironically, even though the small bow had become one of the most recognized features of the company’s logo, packages with string have not been accepted by UPS for several decades because the string can get caught in high-speed sorting machinery." Now, really. This is something that was really on their minds??

In the end, what disappoints me most is that, despite their stated desire to "to make our logo reflect the company’s evolution," the logo reflects nothing more than a large, stable company. And that, I guess, in poor economic times, is something to be desired.

I can't believe nobody out there has something to say about their tagline: Synchronizing the World of Commerce.

On Mar.26.2003 at 10:09 AM
Don Clark’s comment is:

God bless Paul Rand.

On Mar.26.2003 at 10:45 AM
Ben’s comment is:

Pulling strings: UPS ponders a new look

UPS' lawyers with the New York office of King & Spalding LLP have been busy in the last 90 days trademarking dozens of catch phrases, including "Gold Shield," "Behind the Shield," "The Amazing Color Brown" and "People Love the Truck," among others, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

UPS has pondered logo changes before, but its management committee has vetoed the ideas, a company source said.

The first UPS logo in the 1920s featured a shield behind an eagle holding a package in its talons. The eagle flew off in the 1930s, leaving the shield emblazoned with the letters "UPS" and the slogan "The Delivery System for Stores of Quality."

On Mar.26.2003 at 11:31 AM
plain*clothes’s comment is:

Ben said...

they purposely didn't change something because it just made better sense not to...

If an agency told me that I would be shocked and delighted, agreeing that they did the right thing.

a little diversion from the UPS issue (which is just another garbage FutureBrand execution as others have said). here's a little selection of my own branding experience related to the above comments...

I was hired by a small architectural/planning/redevelopment firm about two years ago to reinvigorate a rather irritating, 1980s-style, AutoCad logo. the company had been around quite some time and was extremely well known and respected in its industry -- so, I asked this very question. when the owner explained, and my investigation revealed, that it was their acronym that was well known and the old logo simply was not that crucial, I went for a complete revamping, focusing on the acronym.

at the final logo selection stage, the owner decided the whole process was more involved and costly than he had expected (fortunately, I had already collected the funds that would carry me to that stage). then, some months later, I was informed that he had another in-house AutoCad operator devise an updated logo. the logo really wasn't that terrible, but it was basically a simplification of the old logo bringing it up to early 90s trendiness. so he got the bad update he wanted for 12 bucks an hour... and everyone goes home happy.

On Mar.26.2003 at 11:40 AM
Damien’s comment is:

no one can provide a logical argument for why they're actually doing what they're doing-it just is to be done and the process propells itself forward until you've got a 'refresh'. so what?

I'm not trying to pick on your comments Graham - but they jump out at me - including the one about, what research said UPS needed to rebrand.

They're doing what they're doing because they want to improve themselves and would also like to look like they are trying to do so as well.

UPS wanted to revamp their web site, 'synchronize' their online tools and reposition the organization to be considered seriously in this effort - by their customers.

So UPS also took the opportunity to change their look to give a better impression of this change.

I hardly think UPS set about suggesting that the company redesigned the logo and then considered redesigning its website, and providing better shipping tools for its customers.

But if they missed the mark, and according to their customers they look silly or in fact worse than they did before. Then that is, you're right, a waste of time and money.

Apple refreshed its logo. Netscape, Microsoft.. and all did so to reposition its business. Not just because they were vain and thought that they could improve on the logo. Its a business decision.

On Mar.26.2003 at 12:36 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Its a business decision.

Especially at that level. With all that money involved it must not be an easy decision. Painting all those trucks...

On Mar.26.2003 at 12:53 PM
Jon’s comment is:

Here's Tony Spaeth's opinion from his IdentityWorks web site.

On Mar.26.2003 at 02:06 PM
graham’s comment is:

damien: talking generally, now, but i think these things have a lot to do with vanity, mainly because i haven't heard an argument that convinces me otherwise. what's underlying some of the things i'm saying is actually that don't think the vanity thing is a problem-just admit it and enjoy it and make something less pinched and tweaky and more alive. there is no real reason on earth that a logo should change, or not change, or be a hundred logos all at once, or not be a logo but a book published once a year (hopefully you get my drift), but what do we get? a refresh. most business decisions are driven by vanity-the desire to be noticed, to be accepted, liked, to be prettier and fresher, and to make more cash because of it. great. celebrate it. get on with it and play with it. the buzzwords and taglines and goonery and guff that surrounds enterprises like these is unbelievable, and i suppose i don't fundamentally believe that people are so gullible that they think 'refreshed' logo=better company.

do what you do and try and do it to the best of your abilities: then your logo will take on the characteristics that are inherent in your company. trying to force that raises too many questions and, as i said before, smacks of a lack of confidence.

to get specific again-i've never had a problem using ups, the website made sense, it functioned, did the job, got me my stuff, always tout suite, and i'm as happy as larry. this 'refresh' makes no difference to that. money well spent?

On Mar.26.2003 at 03:16 PM
armin’s comment is:

More fuel for the fire. Notice the poor reproduction of the logo. It's already started.

On Mar.26.2003 at 03:22 PM
Jeff’s comment is:

Seems like I read that Paul Rand offered to rework the logo himself late in his career at no charge. UPS politely declined.

On Mar.26.2003 at 03:46 PM
Skjei’s comment is:

The most subtle application of a swoosh icon I've seen to date.

On Mar.26.2003 at 04:20 PM
Damien’s comment is:


I completely agree with your points. Of course its vanity - thats not necessarily my dispute. I agree there is absolutely no way that a logo, tagline or identity system is going to make up for anything if you (a company) doesn't do what you claim to do. And a company won't continue to make money if it doesn't continue to deliver that service or product successfully, profitably and competitively.


most business decisions are driven by vanity-the desire to be noticed, to be accepted, liked, to be prettier and fresher, and to make more cash because of it.

isn't so.

Business decisions are driven by gaining or competitive advantage. Delivering a product to a customer at a profit. Gaining an advantage by chosing to conduct business differently from its competitors.

Marketing decisions will most likely be made by vanity-the desire to be noticed, to be accepted, liked, to be prettier and fresher, and to make more sales because of it. Which can be part of differentiating a company from another.

There are two sides to a re-branding initiative, one is what the customer experiences, and the other is what the organization does. And in the case of UPS, if this helps get 55,000 employees motivated and behind some new changes within the company - then it is not a complete waste of time, if the perceived change in value to the customer is not understood right away. Motivating change within an organization that large is not an easy thing to make happen.

I'm afraid it is too much of a simplistic view to consider that rebranding (specifically a 'refresh') is a complete waste of time. I agree with you that it may have been so for many companies - but for some it is a useful activity to revitalise an organisation internally - as well as externally.

BP is perhaps a good example of this.

On Mar.26.2003 at 04:24 PM
Ben’s comment is:

That whole anecdote about UPS not even accepting packages with string because of their machinery is just bubkis. That's like saying the USPS needs to redesign their logo, because they probably don't accept bald eagles. They would also probably get caught in the sorters.

I recall seeing several anecdotes about the Paul Rand "gift box"... one relating getting a package to receiving a gift (how often is it that you get something from UPS that you don't want?). The other was something about when he asked his daughter was it was, she said "A present, daddy" and he knew he was done.

And, as the man himself said: "You can't criticize geometry. It's never wrong."

On Mar.26.2003 at 04:42 PM
Scott’s comment is:

I'm not just sad about this redesign. I'm angry.

Little by little, people that call themselves "designers" (but are in fact no-talent idiots who exist only to perpetuate the ill-conceived agendas of visionless corporate drones) are remaking our visual landscape. All traces of humanity--surprise, humor, charm--eventually get replaced by conformity, slickness, and above all, emptiness.

Here's a company with an icon etched in the brains of every person in America. Anyone who had ever seen the UPS logo can draw it. And that was worth more than anyone could say. What they had was an integral piece of American visual culture. Now, they have a meaningless, overproduced logo which will no doubt be redesigned again in less than a decade.

When Paul Rand designed the UPS logo 42 years ago, he showed it to his daughter and asked her what it was. "It's a present, daddy!" was her response. Will anyone (or anyone's daughter) look at the blight on our culture that FutureBrand has brought upon us and say "that's synchronized commerce through an efficient supply chain?" I think not.

As designers we have a responsibility to look past the petty concerns of the moment and act not just in our own interests, or those of the client, but to create work that speaks to people and adds something to the world. This new logo says nothing, does nothing, and removes a little bit of joy from the world. And that's bad for designers, bad for people--and bad for UPS.

Shame on you, FutureBrand.

On Mar.26.2003 at 09:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Will anyone (or anyone's daughter) look at the blight on our culture that FutureBrand has brought upon us and say "that's synchronized commerce through an efficient supply chain?" I think not.

I think I'm just gonna go ahead and erase all the comments and just keep this one. (Of course I'm not, it's just a figure of speech)

Very well put Scott. Thanks.

On Mar.26.2003 at 09:35 PM
graham’s comment is:

i'd have to agree with armin-scotts thing=best bit of writing on design i've read in a while. nice one.

On Mar.27.2003 at 12:14 AM
defrancisco’s comment is:

Thanks Scott for your comment. I was beginning to consider myself an irrational person for feeling this angry about the UPS redesign, but I feel that a part of my cultural/visual heritage has been stolen. A little bit like when that perturbed guy broke the toes of Michelangelo's Moses sculpture.

You said it: “Shame on you, FutureBrand,” but also: Shame on you, UPS.

On Mar.28.2003 at 06:03 PM
Giselle’s comment is:

(A bit of a spam, but not off-topic)

You can get the new UPS logo on a nice lapel pin on eBay in a nice commemorative box set handed out to employees on 3/25/03. Starts @ $1.00

On Mar.30.2003 at 01:37 AM
Craig Schmidt’s comment is:

I remember reading in one of my many Paul Rand books that Paul himself wanted to update the UPS logo. He approached them and even offered to do it for free. Just to tweak it a little. However, they weren't interested and declined. It makes you wonder what the result would have been. No gradients, I'm guessing ....

On Mar.30.2003 at 07:44 PM
Jon’s comment is:

what the result would have been

I don't think it would have been much, actually. According to Steven Heller's book on Rand, he wanted to remove the point from the shield and redraw the bow.

As for me personally, I think I might have reworked the 's', as it always felt a little too rigidly geometric, whereas the 'p' had some line weight fluctuation, but this is rather petty, isn't it?

On another note, there's a lot of grumbling (especially in some prior threads on corporate design) about how we ought to avoid working for companies like this, because they don't 'get' design and they soil the earth with their corporate refuse. I argue that is precisely where designers are needed most. Commerce is simply a major fact and part of everyday life. Why should this area be forsaken, simply because it is primarily profit-driven? Are we, as designers, not interested in profit?

Why doesn't successful design often emerge in large-scale corporate identity? The failure is twofold: It is many designers' failure to grow beyond 'this isn't pretty' that leaves us behind when "visionless corporate drones" search for a new corporate logo. AIGA fails to help on this point, when their shows and annuals continually showcase pictures without words. Second, and more importantly, it's the fault of strategists who are willing to take corporate money and not offer new ideas in return. Landor, Futurebrand, et.al. are simply too afraid to risk losing a fee when tried and true will get you paid every time.

On Mar.30.2003 at 11:02 PM
kyle’s comment is:

Every time I see the new UPS spot, it makes me think of two things; National Geographic & their identity and HPs spots--with the little plus signs flying around everywhere.

On Mar.31.2003 at 12:38 PM
Cara’s comment is:

I find the name Future Brand pretty ironic. Years from now, when the next generation of graphic designers are asked to re-design the identities we have re-designed and created here and now, what will the result be? The way we have taken timeless, conceptual icons (such as the UPS logo), developed by respected designers such as Rand, and bastardized them into mindless and meaningless trademarks, says something about the "designers" of this era. Comments above such as "the new logo is more expressive" and "I'm not saying Rand's logo was so great" pretty much sums up the way many designers of today have been trained to think. These are the days where "corporate branding" reigns king, where logos are designed by a 9am to 5pm committee, where the art director is really an advertising/marketing director, where expressive type means "skewed on a 45 degree angle with gaussian blur," where style is everything (and not even good style!), and where concept has been completely forgotten altogether. I can only hope that the future is more promising than Future Brand.

On Apr.04.2003 at 06:20 AM
Matt’s comment is:

Here's the text of an email that i sent to FutureBrand a few days ago:


Your company's recent redesign

of the UPS logo demonstrates a

truly remarkable lack of sensitivity

and a blatant disregard for the historical

precedent of Mr Rand's original mark,

which by anyone's measure was,

and still is, a landmark of graphic design.

It was both in the history books and on

the street every day, alive and well.

It has been replaced by something that

already has the desperate shiny vapid

fashionableness of a failed dot-com venture,

circa 1999. The company will need a 'new'

identity in a few years time, and I truly hope

that the next company that gets the account

has the sense to replace your exercise in

frivolity with the original UPS logo.

M. E.


It made me feel better.

On Apr.04.2003 at 08:22 PM
armin’s comment is:


Your email made me feel better too. I really liked the failed dot-com venture comparison. So true.

There should be a signed petition sent to UPS' CEO saying that designers want the old UPS logo back and/or that they reconsider Rand's proposed rework of the logo (whatever it looked like it must have been better.) I wonder if Greenpeace could be in charge of this?

On Apr.04.2003 at 08:31 PM
John’s comment is:

You people are all ridiculous. I love Scott's comment about looking past the concern's of the client. I also work at a large brand consultancy, so leave the important work to us and go design another museum poster.

By the way, Rand's mark was also an update of a prior mark that had a shield with a package. I've been anticipating that change for years. Can anyone name a logo out there that looked older than Rand's shield?... (crickets chirping)

On Apr.04.2003 at 09:30 PM
armin’s comment is:

>I also work at a large brand consultancy, so leave the important work to us and go design another museum poster.

I don't even know where to start. Who's going to let this guy have it? Darrel? Felix (c'mon this is like shotting designers in a barrel)? PK?

I just have to say this: if you think that what you do (working for mind-numbing greedy-ass corporations) is better, or more significant, than designing a museum poster you are... well... you do belong in a large brand consultancy.


On Apr.04.2003 at 09:43 PM
John’s comment is:

Armin, are all corporations "mind-numbing and greed-ass"? Oh, and helping businesses with thousands or tens-of-thousands of employees is pretty significant.

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:00 PM
armin’s comment is:

>are all corporations "mind-numbing and greed-ass"?

All that come to mind, yes.

More significant than a museum poster?

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:05 PM
armin’s comment is:

That last comment was meant to answer this:

>Oh, and helping businesses with thousands or tens-of-thousands of employees is pretty significant.

More significant than a museum poster?

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:06 PM
John’s comment is:


On Apr.04.2003 at 10:22 PM
John’s comment is:

Armin, where do you think museums get their funding from?

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:27 PM
armin’s comment is:

From mind-numbing greedy-ass corporations.

Why do they fund museums? for the sake of culture? Forget that shit, it's because they will somehow manage to make more money. But enough about that. What is really pissy here is that you think that what you design is more relevant than what other, smaller design firms and agencies, are designing. What do you get in return from these corporations? Your paycheck and that's it. How relevant.

I need to get back to my museum poster so we'll chat later.

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:37 PM
Jon’s comment is:

>that designers want the old UPS logo back

Sorry, Armin, but I have to say that comment reflects little more than designer griping and self-absorption. Corporations, unfortunately, only care about design if it serves the strategy correctly.

Our real complaints ought to be that 'good design' might have been simply ignored in the effort to support UPS's updated strategy. We should be very upset with the consulting arm of Futurebrand, who were willing to sell this uninteresting and unengaging piece of design work. So many times we lose the battle for great design before the client is even shown the work because our own internal people don't get the value of it.

Now for the designers, I am saddened that they could not visually realize something less banal and commonplace than a horizon to support the brand strategy of "synchronized commerce."

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:46 PM
armin’s comment is:

I was kidding Jon. I didn't make a big effort in being more sarcastic. After all, it is friday.

On Apr.04.2003 at 11:04 PM
Jon’s comment is:

Oh...uh...sorry. It did seem out of character, and things are getting a little testy in here! Your greenpeace comment should have tipped me off. ;-)

On Apr.04.2003 at 11:09 PM
Damien’s comment is:

I think we're assuming that Future Brand submitted only one logo concept and that UPS was a model client and said that they'd take anything that FB thought was best.

If UPS wanted to change - then that's not a crime. If they chose to ditch the Rand logo, thats a shame to us, but again not a crime. If Future Brand was unable to produce something for UPS better than what it did then that is a shame - but we don't exactly know why or if UPS figures that the new identity is an accurate expression of their new position.

I'm distressed that its out there, and replaced something that was very good. But I also know the difficulty in working with huge corporations as a large corporate consultancy.

If you're going to belittle museum poster designers and stand up for large brand consultancies then please make sure that they are worth sticking up for and show us why.

On Apr.04.2003 at 11:10 PM
Jon’s comment is:

If you're going to belittle museum poster designers and stand up for large brand consultancies then please make sure that they are worth sticking up for and show us why.

I don't think we should belittle either, frankly. Each share a very important place in our society. One fosters commerce; the other culture. You really can't have one without the other.

On Apr.04.2003 at 11:13 PM
Damien’s comment is:

absolutely Jon - I was just asking for more information. I didn't think t was fair to simply dump on one or the other.

Also - when did Future Brand actually redesign their web site?

On Apr.04.2003 at 11:22 PM
Scott’s comment is:

You people are all ridiculous. I love Scott's comment about looking past the concern's of the client. I also work at a large brand consultancy, so leave the important work to us and go design another museum poster.

I assume you're being sarcastic when you say you loved my comment. My point was not that designers should ignore their clients--of course it's our responsibility to help our clients. But part of that is recognizing what is meaningful to the people to whom the clients are trying to communicate.

Of course UPS has to redefine and clarify its mission to survive. And I actually think much of the strategic work they and their consultants have done is sound. It's the creative execution I have issues with. The new logo is clearly a response to a perceived need for a new look, and it definitely looks more like "now" than like 1962.

But UPS is bigger than that. They have the power to define what "now" looks like by being a leader, not a follower. Rand himself said that good companies make their logos good. His example was the Mercedes logo--it's meaningless unless you know what Mercedes is all about. And his own logo for Enron didn't help them out of their mess.

You can't reinvent yourself simply by draining all of the equity from your identity, as UPS has done. If I change my name, does it change who I am? Should GE dump their Art Nouveau seal because it looks "old?" What about Coke's Spencerian script? Or William Golden's CBS eye? All of these look old to someone.

What I said was that designers have a responsibility to "look past the petty concerns of the moment," not of the client. UPS was a respected company with a long history and a powerful visual identity. Now they look much more like any number of fly-by-night companies from the 90s. Is that serving their needs?

I have no problem with large brand consultancies--some good work comes out of places like Wolff Olins (Orange) and Landor (BP). What I do I have a problem with is designers selling quick fixes like this new logo to clients like magical solutions to all of their problems. In the end, not only are the real problems then not addressed, but the solutions often make things worse.

On Apr.05.2003 at 02:30 AM
PBG’s comment is:

UPS started their rebranding effort more than a few years back (just before the big UPS strike). They hired Pentagram to do initial studies and dropped a sizable chunk of change in the process. This has been a long time coming. That something finally emerged is a miracle. This rebranding has lurched along at glacial speeds.

The trouble, as stated by an earlier post, is that the design is left to 9-5 committees and then after they've hashed the life out of what's been presented to them, it falls prey to the personal whims of the CEO and his cadre of consultants (read wife, children, and 2nd cousin twice removed, etc).

We are but hired hands doing the bidding for our masters, whether they be small businesses, museums or corporate titans. We simply make them look respectable and feel fabulous about themselves in their vain quests to be masters of all they survey.

On Apr.09.2003 at 05:17 PM
Ginny Tevere’s comment is:

Personally, I think that UPS is having a "brand identity crisis". Their recent advertising campaign about "Trusting Brown" didn't drive you to or capitalize on their name or the identity of their company. Maybe it was a transitional campaign to try to seamlessly move into the logo change. In other words, they were trying to steer their audience away from the old logo by using Brown as their subject matter and now they'll bring you back to their brand. I'm just speculating. Trying to add some meaning to (in my opinion) an unsuccessful campaign. Although, since I did remember it and it did make me think "Who are they talking about? Who is Brown?", maybe it was successful afterall. But it makes me wonder if their audience, as a whole, worked as hard as I did to figure out what they were talking about?

Regarding the new logo design...it's updated. That's about all I can say in a positive light. I'm not a fan of the 3-D logo. I have seen it work, but for the most part, I have seen it fail. The Rand version of the UPS logo is something I never thought would change. It didn't need to. It was a classic that still had branding power and merit.

On Apr.14.2003 at 10:26 AM
Jamie Sheehan’s comment is:

I'm not a huge fan of Rand, but the old UPS logo was one of his best and most certainly LIGHT YEARS better than the new and UNimproved version. IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT!

On Apr.14.2003 at 10:55 AM
Joseph Michael essex’s comment is:

Scott Stowel’s conclusion was accurate but his argument was flawed.

Scott suggests, with both eloquence and passion, that the redesign of the new UPS trademark is an example of “visionless corporate drones” “remaking our visual landscape” by removing “All traces of humanity--surprise, humor, charm. ” While this may be accurate it is not the greatest loss.

Since “humanity--surprise, humor, charm” are qualities and values that connect human beings with one another and they are no longer part of the trademark, UPS is the greatest loser. UPS has traded an established connection with its customers for an anonymous impersonal device that could just as easily be any other three letters.

Companies regularly make the mistake of thinking about audiences and customers rather than about human beings. When they directed or listened to their design office and discarded the previous trademark, UPS implied that they are no longer that company. That may well be the case but the new trademark only serves to say what they not, rather than what they are.

“Humanity--surprise, humor, charm” are elements that were designed into the previous UPS image because they added to its performance as a trademark. Designers run the risk of being dismissed as artists if what we do does not serve the client’s customer. Charm for charm’s sake is just as unsatisfactory as trying to be all things to all people.

Embellishments, no matter how human, without the container of critical thinking, is the difference between a bomb and a rocket. We must not confuse or replace one with the other.

Joseph Michael Essex

Essex Two / Chicago

On Apr.14.2003 at 12:34 PM
mr. blah blah’s comment is:

yes, no, yes, yes, no, no, yes, and yes. wow! amazing amount of bull....stop beating the horse!

this is the opinion of a no-talent, uneducated commercial artist looking for a good design conversation.

no need to comment, PLEAAAASE.

On Apr.14.2003 at 09:42 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

stop beating the horse

I think our collective point has been made on this new identity, I want to move on to another angle.

I'm still of the mindset that large corporations need good design. Here's what I want to know:

What kind of steps do we take, when hired by clients like UPS, to ensure better results?

Do you simply walk away from a client like this?

Is it even worth the challenge?

Is the amount and scope of work so heavy that it is just best to leave it to the big brand consultancies, despite what may result?

I'm especially interested in answers from those of you who are running a design business, since it's your wallet that is affected most by accepting or turning down such fees (not that the rest don't have valid opinions).

On Apr.14.2003 at 11:28 PM
Ben Finch-LETTER TO UPS PR’s comment is:


This was a letter Iw orte to the PR epople at UPS. I got a response and I will post that too. It's rather defensive and crappy! I'm so discouraged by this change of logo! Please read the letter....


I am a designer in Chicago, IL, the principal of The Grasp Initiative. We are a small Print/Web design firm that specializes in identity and branding work. I follow the trends of identity througout the country for major corporations such as yourselves and I am seriously concerned about the revision of your identity logotype!

I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago and thought, " Oh this must be some new thing they are trying, maybe it will pass in a few months" OR " Hey, that's different I hope they don't keep this for real". And then a few more weeks went by and I started seeing trucks with new decals and and pick up boxes where the old logo was still trying to show through as if it were fighting this new, modern tragedy. And then today, for the first time in weeks, I visited the UPS website and realized that my worries had turned into nightmares; they had officially done away with one of the most eloquent and meaningful logos that anyone has ever done. This can't be happening, but it is!

Most people probably don't even know that when they look at the classic gift box/shield logo that the history behind it is in itself mesmorizing. Like many other designers Paul Rand designed the final logotype along with hundreds if not thousands other versions before UPS accepted one of them. (At the time their competition was steep between FedEx and other global carriers). Many probably don't even remember that the box with the ribbon was added many years after the original logo design or that UPS wanted to strike a personal cord in the hearts of the American public so strongly, that they used the gift box over the shield to relay their message; we care for your packages and we treat them like family!

So lets get to "The Gradient Shield" as I will call it.

AHHHHH the The Gradient Shield, yes, it's a symbol of stability, of secure packages in these troubled times in the world. It's a symbol of how strong UPS is

as a company and how that moral/ethical thought will carry over into the handling of packages and satisfaction of customers. What better way to say we care than to use protection as the psychological ploy. The only HUGE problem is that The Gradient Shield has lost all of that!

The best logos are subtle ones. Logos that say something about the company and WHAT IT DOES! Paul Rand's package was an eloquent and simple gesture to relate the tradtional wrapped package with the that of the shield. It was the best of both worlds. You have an outlined shield representing stability but it's not too overbearing and you have ths wonderful reminder of holiday, family and the simplicity of giving. The package on top of the shield is so important to the integrity of the logo but even more importantly to the intergity of UPS!

The two elements together probably make up one of the best logos ever created. And the reason why they work is because they cover both important aspects OF WAHT THE COMPANY DOES. Protection of packages, and the warm fuzzy feeling of holidays and family. It is growing more and more impossible these days to find companies that understand that their logo must consist of graphical elements that educate the public and the consumer about their service.

The classic UPS logo combined both meanings well; however, the new Gradient Shield fails to capture the same meaning thus failing in it's overall purpose.

(Even companies like Mobil and designers like Ivan Chermayeff who did the redesign of the Mobil logo don't always understand the importance that the logo says something about the company.)

This upcoming quote is from Maud Lavin's -Clean New World-Published by MIT 2001: "A while ago in Minneapolis, I was on a panel with Ivan Cermayeff, a principal in the design firm of Chermayeff/ Geismar. a star in the field, Chermayeff looked the part of the handsomely aging artist: tall, rangy, with longish hair and expensively understated clothes. Chermayeff was well known for, among other things, having redesigned Mobil's corporate graphics. His waves of clean gasoline sloshing inside the orange O were then seen by millions of people. But as we started to talk in the panel about how that image and it's related identity program did and didn't relate to what Mobil actually does as a corporation, Chermayeff grew uneasy. He didn't really know or didn't want to talk about what Mobil did. His task was to concentrate on the details of the look. Here was someone who had tremendous power to communicate visually and no power whatsoever to influence content."

I feel that UPS has fallen into the same kind of trap with the new logo.

The shield has now been downgraded to this slick, photoshoped gradient, yellow-brown mush! The UPS logo has taken on a more Storage Facility look versus an eloquent package company look. This new logo even has a hard time carrying the original meaning of classic outlined shield because it is SO OVERDONE! Photoshop and bubbly letters ARE NOT THE ANSWER!

This new logo says nothing about family, giving, holidays, or any of that. I would think that in these new times we live in this would be one of the most important things to say! And as far as security goes, I think it totally fails in that ballpark too.

It is drawn in a way to be modern and bubbly, to look like everyone else. It is not a shield of stability but one that crumbles under all of its photoshop layers!

And as I sit here writing this, I really want to hear that some guy, like the CEO who has no design sense, wanted to change it and everyone was against it. I really want to hear that someone said, hey wait a minute, why are we changing this again?

So to the point!

I know as a designer your company is always after a fresh, modern look (everyone is!) but man did you guys blow this one. Not only did you hack an incredibly intelligent identity but you lost, in essence, all of the shields original meaning not to mention the meaning of the totally absent gift box.

It is a shame that a company like UPS feels so engaged to change something that doesn't need to be changed. If it isn't broke DON'T fix it, as they say. This could not apply more in this case! The decision to use this graphic to represent your company has seriously made me question the integrity and ability of the company.

A logotype says a lot about the company but even more importantly about the people inside of it. This logo does not say stability, or strength, or anything that it needs to say to be anywhere close as elegant and meaningful as Paul Rand's identity. It is a poorly drawn and frankly a horrible layered photoshop job, that looks a lot like many other logos, and I guess I just thought that at the end of the day, UPS wasn't like a lot of other companies.

I guess I was wrong!


Ben Finch

Principal, The Grasp Initiative




We started our own disuccsion (not nowing there was another) that has died down but there are GOOD comments to read. Please check it out!~

I will post the letter from the PR person next in response to my letter...

On Apr.15.2003 at 09:15 AM
Ben Finch-LETTER FROM UPS PR’s comment is:


Mr. Finch:

Thanks for your first note, something I passed on to the head of our Brand Group who happens to be on vacation.

It is Spring Break in Atlanta.

By virtue of contacting our agency representative for our NASCAR program and the posted news release on the change of our race car, I'm confused about your point of the second note. Nothing has changed on our press

releases, other than removing the agency contact as a secondary contact for the UPS.com postings as we do with all press releases beyond their issuance


So Edelman won't have any comment or feedback about our brand strategy, the decision to change our logo and our communications activity both internally and externally about the new direction for the brand. They didn't have

anything to do with the decision to make our logo be contemporary and refreshed to bring it up to speed with the expanded capabilities that UPS has been developing that both enhance small package delivery and extend

beyond the goods flow to include the funds and information flows of global


You have every right to voice an opinion about your dislike of our design change. Yes, I know very well who Paul Rand is, his reputation and why we went to him in the first place in 1960 to develop a new look for what was then a small package delivery company that was expanding geographically. I have no doubt that were he alive today, he would have been consulted about the changing UPS strategy and our desire to look at the entire enterprise, our representation to customers, employees, shareowners and the public at large.

I might suggest you visit our pressroom sitelet

www.pressroom.ups.com/brand to learn more about the strategic underpinnings of our design change, just one component of a brand strategy that we have been articulating for some time. Nothing has been kept secret, other than we chose March 25th to unveil the new brand mark and identity system to employees and customers.

By the way, we worked with a FutureBrand team, primarily based in New York, on the brand strategy, identity system, logo and other organizational changes. Everything went through thorough research and evaluation. We were mindful of change and maintained the legacy of the shield with the updated look. You see, there were two other logo designs for this company which is nearly 96 years old. And, together with the Paul Rand design, all three featured a shield.

Also, to note that we have been communicating with marketing and design academics and professionals across the country in the past 10 days since our unveiling. Few, if any, have shared your opinion. Everyone acknowledged

and respected the power of the Paul Rand icon design but agreed that the brand strategy for the company necessitated a change.

Susan Rosenberg

Manager, UPS Public Relations

Ph: 404.828.6130

Fx: 404.828.6593



Two very important points by Ben:

1. Why in the hell would you intrust a revised logo project like UPS to a company name Futurebrand anyway? YUK! And as someone said up above (I'm sorry I forgot your name), they do need their own


2.I got the contact info of this person off of the UPS site Press Releae page. It was underneath the original press relaes for this sotry. I though it was weird that they gave out personal emails, but I was elated becisue I actually could email someone real!.

Well, I should note that after myself and several others emailed this contact (with our concerns and disgust), the emails and name of the contacts were removed form the site page. I responded to Susan and asked why they were taken down and she had no coment, so either we really annoyed them or they were getting a lot of negative feedback, eventhough in her letter she states the people that they have shown the logo to like it. (Of course they frickin like it. No one of actual importance is actually going to criticize them.GRRRRR

Anyways, I thought this would add some more light on this important topic. Thanks for the room to post Armin!

On Apr.15.2003 at 09:32 AM
Ben Finch-SORRY FOR TYPOS!!!!!!’s comment is:



On Apr.15.2003 at 09:33 AM
TOM’s comment is:

I've been reading this thread from the beginning and waiting to comment til I could fully express my thoughts.

At first like so many of us, I was saddened to see it go. How dare anyone think they could improve on a Rand?

However this isn't art we are talking about, it's business. A mail service business that is not a mail service business anymore. There was a real need to change. The smallest part of the UPS business is package delivery. Why would you leave that monicker of limited perception on a worldwide fleet of logos? Sometimes a logo has to be broad enough to allow room for growth of a company, not hinder it. They probably should have changed it 10 years ago.

As for the solution, I think it carries the equity of the shield and the color palette. Does it pay respect to Rand's pretty little package? No and it shouldn't. This is not Paul Rand's company.

Have I been involved in corporate design projects that hinder and water down productive design? You bet. But sometimes the best and hardest design decision for a CEO or Brand Manager to make is to change.

It seems most designers don't want to like this solution. I wonder what we would have thought of it had Rand still been alive to come up with this solution himself. I think he would have taken the opportunity just like Futurebrand and anyone one of us would have to redesign a narrow focused logo into one based on the new parameters.

On Apr.15.2003 at 10:17 AM
Ben Finch-In response to Jonesl's Point’s comment is:

My girlfriend and I have a small freelance firm..The Grasp Initiative, in Chicago, IL (although the name is changing soon!) In a situation like UPS, not like we could ever land a client that huge, I would first make sure all the adequate research has been done before even deciding to change the identity. secondly, I would explain how I honestly felt to UPS, IE the letter above! And then I would proceed from there.

I think it would be foolish to just disregard their needs for a change; however, it is my opinion that the designer not only has the responsibility of creating design but also the responsibility of not creating design. This seems to be something that we have forgotten. RESTRAINT. And choosing our battles well is key in the success of a business and especially a small business! Designers SHOULD NOT just hop on the boat and say "yeah we agree, this needs a changin" only to aquire the kind of cultural capital that a rebranding like UPS brings .

The cultural capital/recognition should come through other avenues, an does come naturally whan design firm makes the right decision on a project.

I mean just think about how many places this "futurebrand" company has ended up! They are being mentioned all over the world but is this in itself more important than the design and ethical/moral decisions surrounding the design?

You have four main parts and four goals as I see it. I will break them down like this:

1. You have the client, sometimes, a hugh corp like UPS, sometimes your mom and pop busimess that put many of us through college!

2.You have the actual design that is either being created or re-designed, such as the case in UPS.

3. You have the general public who is actually going to be seeing the logo from an objective standpoint, not consdiering Rand and others who place such high value on design.

4. You have the designer, him/herself who designs or redesigns the logo

Goals are as follows:

1. , The clients goal is to be the best and have the slickest logo or whatever it is you are designing. They want to, or at least they should want to express their company and functions of their company through their identity. And also, when you get down to the bare bones, nitty gritty, they just wan to be "the shit" so to speak!

2. Ahh yes, the design. The most important part but always overlooked, eventhough it is constantly being looked at! The designs goal is obvious, to display the message that the client wants,as discussed in number one; however the success of number one depends on number 2!

3. The general publics view point is that of ,"oh yeah they changed it" Or "yeah it's OK". Or is it this simple? Doesn't design strike everyday, ordinary people in a way that many of us do not understand. I have always believed it is the subconscious that is effected most by design. People are affected and don't even realize it becasue of the complicated psychology behind the visualization of graphic art and design. And as before without number 2 being successful, number three fails as well. If the public does not get it than all the steps before this one, have failed too!

4. And finally the Designer! The designer searches for the ultimate answer in this sea of knowledge that we have instilled in our overly small brains. I think sometimes our designs are so off and unnsuccessful it is like we are searching for answers in other solar systems where people eat glass and trees grow in the sky.

Anyways, the designer is after all of the steps previous to this one. They want to please the client, they want to create successful design, thus completing the third one which is pleasing the public. But the hidden agenda we all have, (and definitely do not want to talk about) is that of cultural capital, previously mentioned. We do want everything else to be safe and sound but there is also this overwhemling urge to be known. We not only want to do the best work, but the best work for the best companies, because "who's gonna see the greatest logo ever, if it is for Sammy Jams shoe shop in Peoria Illinios?" ( I do like Peoria by the way!!!)

But what we must ask ourself is if this desire for cultural capital is so great, than why are we designers in the first place? We are anonymous in many cases, when it comes right down to the artwork. We don't always get to put our name on everything!

And finally to get to answering Jonsell's point. What I am trying to illustrate with all of these steps, is that simple question of taking work, or not taking it cannot be answered untill you examine the way you feel about each of the steps listed above...(and of course anymore you feel are relevant)

I think once you do this, you will find your answer.The bottom line is that if you think a potential client is making ethical/moral decisions that do not line up with your firms idealogy than you MUST NOT commit to them. PERIOD!

Being poor is worth so much more than being unethical or immoral with your design and client choices!

I hope this comment is somewhat on track!


And once again, Please excuse any typos!!!

On Apr.15.2003 at 10:22 AM
I mean JONSEL! Sorry for the mispelling!!’s comment is:

Sorry Jonsel for the mispelling!

On Apr.15.2003 at 10:25 AM
Ben Finch-LETTER TO UPS PR’s comment is:

Hey everyone, I just sent my letter to future brand.

I noticed others were doing this and since I sent the orginal letter to the UPS PR dept two weeks ago, I felt it was appropriate. I think AS MANY OF US AS POSSIBLE should send our comments!!!

go to:


to post a comment

Also, I support the designer petition that I believe Armin mentioned!!! Lets do it! I think it would really stir up issues even more and get things organzied at a national level! who cares if some people think it is over the top. I don't!

On Apr.15.2003 at 12:15 PM
armin’s comment is:

>I support the designer petition that I believe Armin mentioned!!! Lets do it!

I said: "There should be a signed petition sent to UPS' CEO saying that designers want the old UPS logo back and/or that they reconsider Rand's proposed rework of the logo (whatever it looked like it must have been better.) I wonder if Greenpeace could be in charge of this?"

Then Jon said: "Sorry, Armin, but I have to say that comment reflects little more than designer griping and self-absorption. Corporations, unfortunately, only care about design if it serves the strategy correctly."

And I was all, like: "I was kidding Jon. I didn't make a big effort in being more sarcastic."

So, in short, I would not sign a petition to bring back Rand's logo. Sorry if I lead anybody on.

On Apr.15.2003 at 12:27 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

And I was all, like: "I was kidding Jon. I didn't make a big effort in being more sarcastic."

And then I was like: "Yo, let's take this outside." ;-)

On Apr.15.2003 at 12:38 PM
Ben Finch’s comment is:

Ooopps, didn't realize this was a joke, but it was an ok one, I mean it could happen!


On Apr.16.2003 at 09:20 AM
nick shinn’s comment is:

Dimensionalization ... pictorializing icons ... de-signing ... no escape ... OS X ... aaagh!

On Apr.22.2003 at 12:55 PM
Tan Le’s comment is:

Ok, let's forget the logo's design itself for a minute, and examine the marketing reasoning behind it.

Most people don't realize that UPS already own 75-80% of the parcel delivery business, including overnight shipping. Fedex and Airborne share the remaining 20-25%. Yes, they are that huge.

So why change when you're at the top? Well, the new logo is an attempt by UPS to "megabrand" itself into new markets. Thus, their tagline "Global Reach. Expanded Capabilities." Megabranding, brand extensions, and a number of other mumbo-jumbo marketing techniques are most often used by companies to stretch a brand, rather than build it.

In this case, UPS's brand shift (ie new logo) is primarily for short-term gains. But they'd never admit it. Think about it. The economic outlook is dismal. Consumer spending is bleak. eCommerce is a bursted balloon. All of these things affect UPS's core business -- parcel delivery. So the eggheads in UPS's marketing dept. had to show corporate that they were doing about it. Answer: something new, visionary, global, expanded, etc. Including killing their old logo -- regarded by many as an American icon.

I predict that in the long term, their new logo will deplete UPS's brand until it no longer stands for anything.

Marketing idiots. Shame on FutureBrand. And good luck to Brown.

On Apr.22.2003 at 04:05 PM
John’s comment is:

"regarded by many as an American icon"

You mean "regarded by many graphic designers"

I've asked non-designers if they liked the new UPS logo and they've responded, "Oh, what does the old one look like?" No one else knows or cares who Paul Rand is. UPS has a much greater resposibility than esoteric design history. This will only help there business.

Oh, and the Rand logo looked so old it hurt my eyes.

On Apr.22.2003 at 04:24 PM
Tan Le’s comment is:

John -- did you even read my email? My point is that the business goals of the rebranding is wrong. Or maybe I should speak in simpler terms, using less complex sentences.

UPS made $31 billion last years delivering parcels. You know, the little symbol that topped their old logo -- the "parcel" box that's also literally their middle name. The thing that probably hurt your eyes.

Isn't UPS's "greater responsibility" to uphold the core business services of their company and support the historic foundations and equity of their company? Yes it is. Did the old logo perfectly represent these ideals? Yes it did.

Their "value-added services" account for a tiny fraction of their services. Yet opinionated, so-called knowledgeable people like you seem to think it's so pivotal to UPS's business. Is that a sign of your naivete, or success of their misleading propaganda? Take your pick.

You're right about one thing -- the fact that Rand designed the logo doesn't make it an American icon. The logo's timelessness makes it an icon, just like Coca-Cola's logo, McDonald's golden arches, and Volkswagen's stacked "VW". Any of those old logos hurt your eyes too, John?

Does the fact that your "non-designer" friends were ignorant of the old logo's looks mean it's not an icon? No it doesn't. They probably can't recollect many significant logos. Yet, somehow to you, their opinion is sooo much more valuable than the opinions of thousands of designers. You know, designers -- people who are trained and paid to evaluate this type of stuff on a daily basis. In other words, people who are much better judges than you are.

On Apr.22.2003 at 06:07 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Hey Tan,

Don't get all riled up with John. It's a dead end for any smart discussion. I should know.

On Apr.22.2003 at 06:50 PM
Tan Le’s comment is:

Good advice Armin.

We're all obviously in the business -- so it amazes me that so many people (like John) base their opinions on incorrect business assumptions. People who accuse designers of ignoring business objectives are often the very same people who fall victim to marketing spin and propaganda.

I do love Rand's logo -- but design fetishism aside, I believed it was a very successful business tool for UPS, and would've continued to serve them well.

It was an unfortunately, misguided, needless retirement of a perfect mark.

I'm stepping off the box now.

Peace, everyone.

On Apr.22.2003 at 07:16 PM
Ed Page’s comment is:

In 1999, Susan Kare, who designed the icons for the original Mac computer, wrote this article about Rand's UPS logo. It wonderfully articulates what was great about the logo and why it did not need to be changed.

On Jun.01.2003 at 12:54 AM
David E.’s comment is:

ok...i admit that i'm new to this site, but i was just here an hour ago, posting on a thread almost identical to this entitled "paul rand swooshed under the rug". Why cant i find it again? Why are there 2 threads on the exact same subject?? ...weird.

On Jun.24.2003 at 03:36 PM
jablonoski’s comment is:


Yes, by definition.


To wash the blood from their hands.

On Jun.24.2003 at 04:06 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>a thread almost identical to this entitled "paul rand swooshed under the rug". Why cant i find it again? Why are there 2 threads on the exact same subject?? ...weird.

David, you were at Typographica dude.

Now that (what? almost 3 months?) have passed since UPS redesigned their logo, what are everybody's opinions? Still hate it, detest it or slowly getting used to it? The UPS Stores are sprawling like bad mexican food joints and nobody seems so upset anymore.

I think feelings are still brewing over this matter, so I think it would be interesting to renew the discussion.

Any takers?

On Jun.24.2003 at 08:09 PM
damien’s comment is:

I thought it was funny that David had lost his way and resurrected the Rand discussion.

I spoke with a UPS guy for a while, when I saw that he was now wearing the new uniform. He was quite happy to talk about the logo for some time. It was funny to hear him say that 'Well, the other logo had been done forty years ago -' and I expected him to continue with telling me who had done it.

He explained that a majority of people were in favour of the new logo. Not specifically because they liked the execution of it, in fact the UPS guy was indifferent to it, but because the logo represented a sort of upgrade to the company. Things changed internally and the new branding gave a public facing demonstration that this was possibly a new and revitalized UPS. He explained that it helped a lot to have the new stuff, whatever it was, it was needed because UPS felt old and out of date.

He did explain that a lot of 'old timers' disliked the new logo. They complained that nothing needed to change, and that was possibly also because of new things going on inside UPS.

If you ask around, many employees fail to get excited about the execution of a mark or logotype of their company. Apart from some who are more discerning or design them for a living. More employees are inspired or driven by the total execution of a brand, including through all branding initiatives. In this case, I think UPS did what it was trying to achieve - it is a shame there was no equivalent of Paul Rand today for them to look up and buy a new identity from. Perhaps they didn't even look. (hiring a whole firm doesn't count)

So, I think it is a poor upgrade of a logo - but I also think the new system is working for both UPS and their employees. Just not me. And maybe a few others on Typographi.ca and here.

On Jun.24.2003 at 09:19 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Too easy to get me started again on this. (btw, it's the thread that originally hooked me onto SpeakUp)

My feelings haven't changed -- the new UPS logo is still an unfortunate update of an iconic logo.

The initial UPS 'Brown' campaign, including the rebranding of Mailbox Etc., had taken place well before the new logo was rolled out. I'd originally thought the whole campaign was brilliant -- and then, they had to bring out that logo and ruined everything.

I believe time will prove my (our) instincts correct. Unfortunately, it won't be marked by some momentous shift in the shipping market, or a drastic drop of UPS stock. Rather, it will be a slow and unremarkable demise of yet another American brand. Like Chevrolet, Cadillac, and a number of other once notable companies -- consumers will eventually become apathetic to the UPS brand completely. It will become another hollow corporate mark that means nothing.

What a shame.

On Jun.25.2003 at 03:32 AM
armin’s comment is:

>I believe time will prove my (our) instincts correct.

What do you think will happen? Another redsign? Or the crumbilng of the company? Or the end of mankind maybe...

I don't see them redesigning the logo for another ten years at least, and even then I don't believe they will have it in them to do this all over again. Unless it made sense to do so, of course.

On Jun.25.2003 at 10:39 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> What do you think will happen?

Yes, most likely another redesign in 10 yrs when their upper management changes guards and rebrands again.

What else might happen?

Their competition will gain ground. People will choose alternatives. Who knows, maybe FedEx will seize the opp, and branch more into general parcel delivery.

To compete, UPS will slash services (close a number of UPS stores) and slash marketing dollars.

Their reliability will become no better than the US Postal Service.

Or...they may just continue as they are.

The point is that as their consumers will eventually not give a damn anymore about the company. I can't see how that's a good thing for any company.

On Jun.25.2003 at 11:36 AM
wick’s comment is:

Fair warning: cynical post follows.

The UPS employee was indifferent to the old logo, and is effectively indifferent to the new one. All he saw was that something changed. To him that was enough.

I suspect that the same is true about the public at large. And when another big brand identity falls by the wayside, the public will be told by the branding agency that the old logo was just too old. Most likely, the public will shrug and carry on. I mean, I'd be surprised if anyone stopped using UPS (even temporarily) because of the logo change.

I used to think that a designer should try to create corporate marks that endure as long as possible. Is there still a market for that? The temporary increase in interest seems to justify change for change's sake.

There have been plenty of identity redesigns that I hated at first and then came to appreciate. But I don't think that's going to be the case here. I still strongly dislike what UPS has allowed to happen to their logo.

On Jun.25.2003 at 11:45 AM
John’s comment is:


To think any of those things will happen is ridiculous. Its like you've created your own little world of fantasy.

On Jun.25.2003 at 12:35 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I'm not biting John.

We'll see in a few years if I'm fantasizing or not.

On Jun.25.2003 at 12:46 PM
John’s comment is:


Seriously, do you really think that any of that is possible? All because of moving from an older-looking shield to a contemporary one?

Any precedence for something like that?

On Jun.25.2003 at 12:54 PM
Tom’s comment is:

> Rather, it will be a slow and unremarkable demise of yet another American brand. Like Chevrolet, Cadillac...

Have you seen Cadillac lately? Their new product line is incredible design and selling like hot cakes. The upgrade of their logo was long over due.

And is this discussion really more about Rand than the actual logo? What if it had been a Beall or ad agency design, or an unknown designer? Would we have been as upset if one of our current day heros had done the work and dedicated to Rand?

Apparently you guys still don't see the business aspect of this decision - it's not about package delivery anymore!!! If UPS does slash old services like package delivery it will be because their new look helped all their new services like financial services excel.

It would be interesting to see an exhibit of all the disgruntled designers concepts for what the logo should have become, because like it or not UPS had every intention, right and reason to change it.

On Jun.25.2003 at 01:18 PM
John’s comment is:

"Nostalgia doesn't really grow your business"


On Jun.25.2003 at 01:25 PM
Tan’s comment is:

John --

My objection is more complicated than just old logo to new logo. For the record, I think there are many successful brand updates out there. Xerox and Apple are two that come to mind. I have no problem with changing a logo.

I just don't think this particular change was smart or successful.

It's more than just the form, but what it represents. Brand extensions. Non-consistent brand building. And yes, the form and type of the new logo itself.

Example of ineffective brand revision?

Pepsi. They've changed their logo, what, more than a dozen times within the last 30 years? And has it increased their market with Coke significantly? Hardly.

Kentucky Fried Chicken. Changing their brand to KFC and selling roasted chicken to attract a healthier-conscious crowd. Did anyone buy it? Nope. People still go there for greasy fried chicken.

So will people now see UPS as a "Global Delivery Solution" instead of a place to send packages? Nope. In fact, it feels more disingenuous to me. I think consumers won't care, but they also won't buy into it. So then, it becomes a question of why UPS did it in the first place?

Look, we can talk forever about the relation between brand, market migration, and the design itself. In the end, I'll still feel that it was an unsuccessful, needless redesign -- and the market will not be affected positively as a result.

You're welcomed to disagree.


Have you seen Cadillac lately? Their new product line is incredible design and selling like hot cakes. The upgrade of their logo was long over due.

Sure, I agree that Caddy needed changing. But it doesn't mean that it's a success yet. The jury is still out.

The median age of a Cadillac buyer is still 63. Honest. Look it up. That fact woefully points to Cadillac's complete loss of brand equity to the modern car buyer.

They updated their look to appeal more to the Audi crowd for sheer survival. But it remains to be seen whether or not the Audi crowd will buy the change.

I'll assume you're not 63 yet. Did you buy a new Cadillac? Be honest -- if someone gave you $40K today, would you drop it on a Cadillac CTS or an Audi A4 or BMW 330c?

Let's talk another depleted car brand -- Chevrolet. What do you think of when you hear or see the Chevrolet logo? I think of rental, disposable, forgettable cars. The brand means nothing to me.

Some of you may say "Corvette" -- but that's equity in the Corvette brand, not the Chevrolet brand.

I'm getting off the subject here -- but I still stand by my assertion that like Caddy and Chevrolet, UPS's brand will diminish as a result of this redesign.

It won't happen tomorrow, but check back in a few years and see.

On Jun.25.2003 at 02:02 PM
Tom’s comment is:

> I'll assume you're not 63 yet.

Heh? Whayasay? Why back in the day of Paul Rand and....

Honestly, if someone gave me that kind of money to buy an auto I would buy a Cadillac CTS or a big beautiful Chevy SUV. Honest I have been salivating over the CTS since it hit the street. ('Zepplin drum whif starts now)

When I think of Chevy I think of trucks, SUV's and Jeff Gordon. But I am a Southernah' and coincidently about 10-15 miles from the UPS corporate headquarters.

Oh and the largest growing consumer market with the most expendable income is the baby boomers.

> Pepsi. They've changed their logo, what, more than a dozen times within the last 30 years? And has it increased their market with Coke significantly?

Yes. You can't look at the individual brands of Coke and Pepsi and make direct comparisons. They don't! You have to look at the entire portfolio of brands and what they are doing in the market here and abroad. Coke will spend millions on its lesser brands to counter Pepsi moves. The fastest growing CSD is and has been Mountain Dew for years - that one goes to Pepsi. Every time Pepsi pops up with a new logo or package, Coke will jump through hoops and it's nine levels of management to think about a redesign.

By the way, for the record, I never said I like the new UPS logo, I'm just going for 200 comments - and also trying to get at the bottom of why this one has struck such a nerve.

On Jun.25.2003 at 02:53 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Mountain Dew may be the fastest gaining brand in the US -- but abroad, Fanta is by far the most popular selling soda right after Coke. Chalk one up for Coke.

But you make good points Tom. Chevy Trucks is indeed a very strong brand presence.


As to the CTS, well I still think you're an exception. Most baby boomers would drop cash on a German or Japanese luxury mark before Cadillac. I think Cadillac has an almost impossible battle to win.

I'm a southern Texas boy myself originally -- but it'd still take a miracle to get me to walk into a Cadillac showroom.

While we're on the subject of cars, it's interesting to see Toyota's new attempt at getting a younger market with its Scion brand. Feels so hip it hurts. The median age of a Toyota buyer is 46 -- which is not surprising why they're pushing so hard for the youth market.

Ok, now we're really off the topic.

On Jun.25.2003 at 03:20 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Ok...i feel foolish now...thanks for clearing that up.

I wasn't as surprised or as disgusted as most of you to see the logo change. To me, they had already destroyed the look of the trucks by adding that horrible map graphic and extra copy a few years back. I don't know if Rand designed the size and placement of the logo on the trucks, but I assume he did. The trucks always looked great to me: clean and efficient. The added stuff looked like a desperate attempt to keep up with FedX. If the trucks went back to having nothing on them but the logo, I think that would be a major improvement (even with the new logo, as much as I hate it).

Also, here's most of what I posted on typographica:

It seems to me that everyone who’s posted on this thread agrees that the new logo is bad. Dont you think that the guy who designed it probably does too? Large design firms will pay a group of freelancers a couple hundred bucks each for a page of logo designs. The freelancers only do the initial pencil comps—all refining is done in house. Its the freelancers job to overturn all the stones, explore all the possibilities, and they’re all put up on the wall for the client to see. There’s no ownership in any of it. When Paul Rand designed the original symbol, he presented UPS with ONE design. How could the new logo possibly be as good?

Of course, I didnt mean to insinutate that designers should only present one comp of a logo to a client, but there ought to be some middle ground. I agree with whoever said clients should invest a lot of money in their logo design, but what should they get for their money? Designers are consultants, and need to be able to advise their clients as to what’s good for them. If you cant do this, where is your value? To give a client an endless choice of designs is encouraging the client to remain completely ignorant of what design really is, and devalues the profession.

On Jun.25.2003 at 03:43 PM
David’s comment is:

Large design firms will pay a group of freelancers a couple hundred bucks each for a page of logo designs. The freelancers only do the initial pencil comps—all refining is done in house. Its the freelancers job to overturn all the stones, explore all the possibilities, and they’re all put up on the wall for the client to see. There’s no ownership in any of it.

You just made that up. That's not how large design firms work.

On Jun.25.2003 at 03:49 PM
griff’s comment is:

Large design firms will pay a group of freelancers a couple hundred bucks each for a page of logo designs. The freelancers only do the initial pencil comps—all refining is done in house. Its the freelancers job to overturn all the stones, explore all the possibilities, and they’re all put up on the wall for the client to see.

Is that true?!?!?!?! I have never heard of such a thing! Sounds like the old 100 monkeys and 100 typewritter approach. How would the freelancer have any deep understanding of the client to do such a thing!?

On Jun.25.2003 at 05:49 PM
Tan’s comment is:

No, that's not how large design firms work. I've never known any legit firms that have done this.

One team, probably one large team of 8-15 people at FutureBrand drove this rebranding project. During the design exploration phase, they might have pulled in other designer within the company -- so in total, there was conceivably 8-15 designers at the most working on the UPS rough logos.

But in the end, it was the result of 1 designer, 1 art director/creative director, and 1 client contact from UPS.

May all three burn in design hell.

On Jun.25.2003 at 06:23 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Apparently you guys still don't see the business aspect of this decision - it's not about package delivery anymore!!! If UPS does slash old services like package delivery it will be because their new look helped all their new services like financial services excel.

Sorry to rehash an earlier post -- but I had to respond to this.

Tom -- have you looked at their annual report recently?

I have looked at the business aspects of it -- I design annual reports for a living.

UPS did approx $31 billion in parcel delivery last year. In comparison, Microsoft made $41 bil, and Coca Cola took in $21 bil worldwide. And out of that $31 bil for UPS, a vast majority of it was for good 'ol shipping of parcels.

By volume and tonnage of shipments, UPS commands more than 80% of the parcel delivery business -- including overnight delivery. I know, because Airborne Express used to be one of my clients.

You're the one who's been flim-flamed by all their marketing hype. All these value-added services like Supply-chain management and what you termed 'financial services' is a tiny, miniscule fraction of their core business -- which is the moving and delivery of parcels.

Yes, as in the parcel box on their previous logo.

On Jun.25.2003 at 07:20 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Im sure that there are many design firms who don't work that way (maybe even most design firms), but let me assure you that i did NOT make it up. A very big name designer (who I'm sure you all have heard of) who runs his business this way. I've only worked for smaller design firms and have never encountered anything like that either, but then I've never worked on a logo project as big as UPS.

My point, though, was that there's not nearly as much ownership in design as there was in Paul Rand's day. Too much choice is given to the client, who thinks "Well, Burger King and Midas Muffler have swooshes on their logos now...swoosh = contemporary." There are too many design firms who are willing to pander to their clients' whims, so why would the client hire someone who refuses?...and the bigger the client, the worse it gets. Ask anyone who's ever designed for the motion picture industry.

On Jun.25.2003 at 07:34 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Im sure that there are many design firms who don't work that way (maybe even most design firms), but let me assure you that i did NOT make it up. A very big name designer (who I'm sure you all have heard of) runs his business this way. I've only worked for smaller design firms and have never encountered anything like that either, but then I've never worked on a logo project as big as UPS.

My point, though, was that there's not nearly as much ownership in design as there was in Paul Rand's day. Too much choice is given to the client, who thinks "Well, Burger King and Midas Muffler have swooshes on their logos now...swoosh = contemporary." There are too many design firms who are willing to pander to their clients' whims, so why would the client hire someone who refuses?...and the bigger the client, the worse it gets. Ask anyone who's ever designed for the motion picture industry.

On Jun.25.2003 at 07:36 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Okay, first and foremost, very cool discussion. Very glad it was resurrected.

One thing I'd like to address right off of the bat:

--I have worked at three large brand design firms in the past twenty years. Never have I witnessed anyone ever hiring freelance designers to design a page of logos for a couple of hundred bucks. That is unethical, dishonest and just plain wrong. I am certainly not speaking for all large design firms, but I have no knowledge of this--ever--and would want to get some substantiation to this claim from the writer.

Back to the original topic. I think the reason that the new UPS logo has gotten under our skin in the way that it has is this: despite being a valiant attempt at a reinvigoration/repositioning/relaunch, the new logo just doesn't have any soul.

Yes, I am sure that Futurebrand did a rigorous design exploratory. I am sure that robust consumer research was undertaken and somehow proved, with statistical significance, that consumers loved this logo. But, that being said: I don't think we can blame the consumer here. That this logo was actually shown to consumers is the real issue--not that consumers picked it. Who knows the circumstances in which they picked this particular rendition--if they saw 2-D logos or logos in advertising or logos on packaging or whatever. The basic fact remains that the logo was changed--and many, many people made this decision, supported the decision and executed it. I doubt that this change was made easily--I can only imagine the kind of qualitative and quantitative numbers that were accumulated in this endeavor to support this change. No one would take this kind of risk in a redesign of this magnitude in this day and age without that validation. (That in and of itself is worthy of a discussion).

Change is tough--for designers and consumers. Most change brings about feelings of insecurity and fear. Humans, as a society and a culture, for the most part (visionaries excluded, here--of course), find change uncomfortable and unnerving. That being said--people get used to things after a while and accept them--and begin to feel kinship with them.

Here is the surprising thing to me about the UPS redesign: I have only gotten positive responses from the random folks (not in the design biz) that I have asked about this redesign. So I am assuming they did get an accurate reading from the consumer as to their feelings about this change.

How is this possible? Why do you think this happened? I personally do not believe that consumers are unable to make good design decisions--look at the way they are responding to Target. My favorite quote from Jonathan Bond (of Kirschenbaum/Bond): "Consumers are like roaches. We spray them with marketing, and for a time, it works. Then, inevitably, they develop an immunity, a resistance." In other words--consumers are not stupid.

Futurebrand designed a soulless logo--a commoditized shield that I have been trying desperately to understand and still can't. Somehow Futurebrand, one of the country's largest and most financially successful brand design consultancies felt it worthy of showing to their client, UPS. Somehow the client, UPS, felt it was worthy of showing to their customers. Somehow, those customers--consumers--the people, picked it. And somehow, most of the non-designers I know are not bothered by it and many actually like the zoom-zoom effect of the swoosh in the advertising.

I have to ask: How did this happen? Should I be wondering if I am missing something here? Should we?

On Jun.25.2003 at 08:25 PM
armin’s comment is:

>many actually like the zoom-zoom effect of the swoosh in the advertising.

Watch what you say Debbie, this kid (or his parents) could sue you for that.

>How did this happen?

You mean how did the UPS logo made it all the way? Every time I think about the UPS logo I always wonder What would I have done?, probably urinate in my pants would have been my first course of action. But really, how the hell do you go about redesigning that? And I think Debbie summed it up pretty well:

Somehow Futurebrand, one of the country's largest and most financially successful brand design consultancies felt it worthy of showing to their client, UPS. Somehow the client, UPS, felt it was worthy of showing to their customers. Somehow, those customers--consumers--the people, picked it.

It's just a course of actions where the cause-effect, whether for good or bad, is pretty much irreversible and through all these sources of input (client, consumer, agency) it becomes something less controllable. It's a big-ass snowball effect that left the old logo squashed along the way. And in the end it created this huge "resolution" that apparently is hard to accept.

On Jun.26.2003 at 09:07 AM
tom’s comment is:


UPS is 80% of the parcel delivery industry.

but because of their marketing decisions and the new logo, ...competition will gain ground...maybe FedEx will seize the opp, and branch more into general parcel delivery. ...UPS will slash services (close a number of UPS stores) and slash marketing dollars...Their reliability will become no better than the US Postal Service.

So if your 80% of an industry and your other two competitors are a solid 20% of the industry, how do you grow your business? You add other services that are extensions of your core business and in the process of adding value, could grow your 80% to 85-90%. A few years later you do testing and realize that most consumers think you just deliver packages... a hah!!

Again, I think the new logo fails in the 'what it could have been' category, but to leave it as it was could allow the competition to gain ground. Tan or anyone - do you have any figures on market share growth over the last few years? I am assuming(cause I do not design annual reports for a living) that FedEx was gaining ground. Just an assumption.

Another assumption - how many mood boards do you think went into the creation of this 3D swoopy thingy?

Tan - thanks for going back and forth with me on this! I love getting at the heart of this stuff.

On Jun.26.2003 at 11:58 AM
David E.’s comment is:

debbie...the design firm i was referring to actually does operate this way. I admit that I really dont know how much the freelancers are paid, but even if they're paid large sums of money for their designs (and i doubt they were) my point would be the same. This design firm has one or two designers on staff, the rest of their work is done by freelancers. I admit also, they're not a firm that specializes in branding (they're mainly an entertainment design firm), though they did create a logo for a major league sports team a couple of years ago. In that particular case, the client picked a solution done by an intern, who recieved little or no compensation.

You asked how it happend (the ups logo)...i think it happened because if you have 15 people coming up with 30 designs each, one of those 450 designs is bound to have a swoosh on it. I know that when I come up with a large number of ideas for any one project, not all of them are great...or even good.

My point really was that no matter how a design firm does things, there is almost always a complete lack of ownership in a project as big as this. If one person was able to do 3 designs, and that would be ALL that was presented to the client, there would be room for personal vision. Too much is being left up to the client, in my opinion, and I don't see any way that could change.

On Jun.26.2003 at 12:54 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Tom --

The remaining 20% are split between overnight delivery carriers FedEx and Airborne Express (who acquired competitor DHL last year).

FedEx is by far the largest competitor. By volume and tonnage, they don't come close to UPS. But the overnight delivery sector is much more lucrative, so financially, FedEx's revenues are right up there -- around $22 bil last year or something like that. Out of the last 20%, FedEx probably owns 16% of it. The rest is fodder for Airborne.

To ask if FedEx is gaining ground is missing the point here. The two sides of this industry are not as related as they may seem. FedEx is concentrating on expanding the overnight business, while UPS is entrenched in general parcel. One customer base is not the other's

So back to your question -- it's really in two parts: market share gains and revenue gains.

Market share gain is obvious -- how does UPS encroach into that last 20% of private parcel? Answer: by going head-to-head with FedEx for overnight. There are no easy answers to this route. This is more than just value-added service for UPS -- if they truly wanted to do this, they would have to invest billions into the effort. More than just changing a logo, they would have to change their consumer perception and marketing for this deeply entrenched sector. Is it worth it? Depends. But there's certainly money to be made.

Now, regarding revenue gains.

UPS already does more parcel/freight business than the US Postal system. By far. So in this sector, if they want to expand their revenues, then the key is expanding the model by volume. Support the growth of e-commerce. Assist in small business shipping management. Expand emerging international markets through customs brokerage and supply-chain management. Buy Mailbox Etc, so they can establish and control a retail presence.

But no matter the method, all of them serve one goal -- to support and expand the core volume of parcel delivery and shipping. More volume equals more revenue, plain and simple.

You're not the first person that I've talked to who has this perception that UPS is no longer primarily about shipping parcels. I'm not quite sure where people are getting this messaging from, but it's just simply not true. Furthermore, I don't understand how it could possibly be in UPS's best interest to deflate a core company service that's been so hard-earned?

We have clients that deal w/ supply-chain management, customs brokerage e-documents, etc. -- and their particular value-added shipping market combined is just a tiny fraction compared to UPS's market. I can't possibly see why UPS would choose to abandon their core services to adopt these new smaller, peripheral services. It would be corporate suicide.

So for these business reasons, I asserted that UPS was wrong by abandoning their old logo for the new one. At the core, UPS is a relentlessly-efficient, utilitarian, business-focused, parcel shipping giant. I thought Rand's logo reflected this perfectly -- perhaps better than most corporate identities out there.

The new logo, beside being trite and ugly, abandons most of these values. And that's why I think customers will eventually forget what the original UPS brand was all about. In a few years, the logo will mean nothing to people.

On Jun.26.2003 at 12:59 PM
armin’s comment is:

>debbie...the design firm i was referring to actually does operate this way

C'mon David! Just tell us who it is and we can put all of this behind us. Spill it!

>You asked how it happend (the ups logo)...i think it happened because if you have 15 people coming up with 30 designs each, one of those 450 designs is bound to have a swoosh on it.

Does anybody (David) know for a fact that this happened? I may question Futurebrand's taste and ethics or whatever, but I'm sure they would not be foolish enough to show 450 designs to UPS, that would be digging their own graves and having their caskets shipped via FedEx.

On Jun.26.2003 at 01:02 PM
Tan’s comment is:

David E. --

Ok, so we believe that you aren't making this up. But the point we're all making is that this is not the norm. No design firm should work this way, I don't care if they're in the "entertainment design" or whatever.

And if AIGA or any of their competitors caught wind of how they do things, this firm would either be immediately discredited or publicly ridiculed for their business practice. It's sheer stupidity and embarrasing for the profession -- plain and simple.

As to your plea for restraint in showing multiples, perhaps this thread would interested you more.

On Jun.26.2003 at 01:11 PM
tom’s comment is:

I think we are getting the perception from UPS. And it wasn't that I thought they were no longer primarily about parcel delivery anymore, but that they were no longer only about parcel delivery anymore.

I believe we are agreeing more than disagreeing here. I have certainly seen too many brand/marketing managers trying to push their own agendas by making bad design/creative decisions.

I think the only part we disagree on is whether it was a wise business decision to change? I think it was - just the wrong change.

On Jun.26.2003 at 01:32 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Well, maybe things just work differently in Los Angeles...nice to know it isnt like this everywhere. And I agree that things should never work that way.

So, does anyone know how the process actually does work at futurebrand? does anyone know how many concepts would be shown for a project like this?

Also, i'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on how a bad logo could have been avoided. My guess was that the client didn't want something that looked too different than the old logo (in other words, retain the sheild shape and basic typographic feel). I'd also guess that they definetely wanted to lose the package tied with string and that the new logo had to express modernity. How many different ways are there to do this? Im just playing devil's advocate, not defending the design necessarily.

On Jun.26.2003 at 01:42 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

I doubt that FutureBrand showed 450 different designs to UPS, but that doesn't mean they didn't produce them in their exploratory. My personal theory (because I'd like to believe they did try) is that FutureBrand showed 3-5 really interesting and unique logos to UPS and all were quickly rejected.

Having been through this experience before, one of two things can then happen. One, everyone can regroup, then have a serious heart to heart with the client and figure out why and where you missed. Second, and more common, is for the design firm to go into "satisfy the client" mode. MANY many designs will be created, the design team will expand, freelancers will be hired and then the subsequent 'hundreds' of logos will appear on a wall to be pondered. If you've had experience working on very large corporate identities, you've seen this. It's not a good process at all. Very often, the client is at fault for not providing clear enough direction (or not even knowing really what direction they want to go in).

I was involved in one project where the design phase shifted between NY and SF offices twice, because the client thought the "better" design team was in the other office. Classic. They never did get a new identity.

So, either Futurebrand simply tried to salvage a relationship (and a hefty fee for implementation) and offered the revised shield as a last ditch effort, or they really believe the new logo is a good identity. Neither are exactly optimal.

On Jun.26.2003 at 03:45 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Tan...thanks for pointing me in the direction of the "design options" thread...of course i thought it was a great subject. i've copied the whole thing to read when i have some time.

And I may as well add my own 2 cents worth of criticism on the logo itself: I think the "U" is way tall...in fact, i think that bugs me as much as the swoosh.

On Jun.26.2003 at 05:39 PM
David E.’s comment is:

"way TOO tall", i meant

On Jun.26.2003 at 05:41 PM
Tan’s comment is:

you're welcome David.

and since you brought it up -- check out my Corporate logo/dictator collection.

don't roll your eyes Armin.

On Jun.26.2003 at 05:46 PM
David W’s comment is:

David, did I just hear you admit that you work at FutureBrand?!? Dude. Fess up -- you won't be stalked. Give us a little insight into the UPS debacle...I mean...rebranding.

Hi all,

My name is David Weinberger and I am a Senior Design Manager here at FutureBrand. I have also worked at Landor (with JonSel) and started at Joel Katz design associates in Philadelphia (Joel is one the Information Architects in Wurman's book)

Let me say that I am not an official spokesperson for FB and that the views expressed by me are not necessarily the views of FB. I also did not work on the UPS project, although I wish I had, and am very proud of the work. In addition I can not really go into depth about the project specifics as is customary with large clients. This is what I can offer:

1. The mark no longer reflected the business strategy. UPS is building their other offerings and moving forward, they will become a larger part of their business. Often times a change of the visual is the best way to signal a change in strategy.

2. The existing mark tested very poorly with consumers. When asked what the UPS logo was, the overwhelming majority had no idea. The few that thought they knew, either answered Shield or Globe(from the side of the truck). The shield which was around since the beginning was kept.

3. This has been a catalyst for uniting the company. Employees felt their identity was outdated. No one wants that.

4. It seems as though all of the feedback has been about the Logo. I'm sure you all know that an identity is much more than a logo. It is the visual and the experiential. I can't imagine that any of the designers here liked the existing boxes and packs. Anyone? The new visual system is great.

5. Great designs aren't always timeless designs. The UPS logo looked old. It did. It was UPS's third shield as a logo and it needed to evolve again. It is still a shield.

6. There have been several comments about the scalability of the design. For instance that it doesn't work well in black and white. Great, when is the last time you got a fax from UPS. With electronic distribution of brand assets, logos no longer need to be "camera ready". Is there a b/w version of the MSN logo. Yep. Is it the most important version and should it have driven the primary logo. No.

7. There has been so much great feedback on this work from the business community AND the design community. Identities change over time and it means that the work of retired or deceased designers will be replaced. This happened to be a major one. There will be others.

8. People outside the design community don't know who Paul Rand is. When they look at the UPS mark, they aren't looking at his entire body of work. Also, Rand knew this was not his best. We all know he wanted to fix it for free. My feeling is if you take his name out of the equation, it is a non-issue.

9. I am proud of the work we do here at FutureBrand. Our designers are as talented as the designers on SpeakUp with design backgrounds just as diverse.

On Jun.27.2003 at 05:33 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Bravo, David! And very well stated.

At the end of the day, the discussions we have here at Speak Up are still just opinions. And when it comes to logos, especially well-known logos, there's no shortage of heated debates and disagreements.

You probably realize also that there's always shrapnel as a result. Just don't take any of it personally. It's just bullshit talk from a bunch of designers who should be working instead of posting.

Just ask Debbie Millman, who took us head-on and threw the bs right back at us. Damn impressive of her I have to say.

I think it's always good to be passionate about what you do.

And thank you -- this is a perfect wrap up (or extension) for this thread. I think it's awesome.

On Jun.27.2003 at 05:49 PM
Tan’s comment is:

...but I still think the FB designer(s) responsible is going to design hell.

burn, baby, burn!!

On Jun.27.2003 at 06:11 PM
wick’s comment is:

The existing mark tested very poorly with consumers. When asked what the UPS logo was, the overwhelming majority had no idea.

How was this survey handled? Were they provided with a copy of the logo and asked "What is this?" Or were they asked to envision it from memory?

Employees felt their identity was outdated.

Again, I'd love to know how UPS (or FutureBrand) arrived at this. Were the employees asked, "What do you think of the UPS logo?" Or were they asked, "Is the UPS logo outdated?"

I have no particular axe to grind against FutureBrand or even the new logo (though I stand by my previous assertion that it's no better than the original). I'm just trying to get an idea of how much spin was involved in setting up those surveys and interpreting the answers.

On Jun.27.2003 at 06:20 PM
David E.’s comment is:

David W.

Im glad you mentioned the globe on the side of the trucks. I think it was may have been on typographica that I commented on the globe and slogan that was added to the trucks a few years back.

To me, that was when the old UPS identity died. It really looked like a desperate attempt to take something old and make it look fresh. Ironically, it made the whole identity look outdated. Plus, it looked like minimum wage workers were given stencils and cans of gold spray paint to paint it on the trucks.

I'd much rather see clean looking trucks with the new logo than the way they've looked the last few years.

On Jun.27.2003 at 06:39 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

the globe and slogan

Of course many people thought the globe was the logo. It's massive on the trucks and completely dominates the old mark in visual scale. By removing the globe, they could have brought more prominence to the mark and thus created some more memorability. Talk about a loaded question...

Even if I buy the argument that the old parcel just didn't speak to their new lines of business (which, to me, seem to all be about packaging in some form) and it had lived its useful life, why couldn't something have been created with the same sense of life and charm? Why another soulless horizon? This is so completely frustrating and about what we really should be compaining.

What used to be so nice about corporate identities was that they actually reflected the companies businesses to some degree. Instead, nowadays we are handed logos that reflect attributes like trust, solidity, globality, and the future that could apply to almost any Fortune 500 company. These identities and the companies they represent are soulless.

Jeez...Art Chantry might be proud of me for that last statement...

On Jun.27.2003 at 09:14 PM
Michael S’s comment is:

I hate critiquing other designers work. Sure I have opinions, sure I can see derivative inspirations that were ripped off from other designers, and I have no issue letting people know that I think there work is kick ass. But why I don't like critiquing other work is this; I don't know what the brief was, I don't know what happened in the meetings with the clients and I don't know the circumstances that lead to the work the public sees. Design for me is strategic, 90/10 with the visual being being the last 10%. Most designers want to do their best, why else would they do what they do, it's probably not for the money. With that said, design is a profession (a job...yikes) and I've had jobs go sideways when I as the professional had the best intentions. At the end of the day you evaluate and move forward. I appreciate the time David took to post about UPS. For me this illustrates why I hate critiquing other work. Designers aren't designing for other designers, but for the client's client.

As a side note, I haven't bought a design magazine {I don't consider Emigre a design magazine, perhaps a faux design journal} since last October/November (if my memory serves me correctly) when I first started reading posts from this site. I respect the opinions here b/c there's a passion and intensity that is missing from commercial editorial ventures marketed to designers. I would hate to jump to conclusions, but whoever continues Meggs fourth or fifth edition of his masterpiece would be doing design a disservice for not mentioning forums like this. That is why I hit the refresh button to read what is posted next. We are in the next wave.

On Jun.27.2003 at 09:55 PM
Tom’s comment is:

David W. - Thank you for posting and providing immeasurable insight for this great discussion.

I am sure you and your fellow FB coworkers can't wait to critique Armin or Tan or myself or anyone else here when we redesign the IBM logo! : )

On Jun.30.2003 at 07:39 AM
armin’s comment is:

>I am sure you and your fellow FB coworkers can't wait to critique Armin or Tan or myself or anyone else here when we redesign the IBM logo! : )

What? And put up with this kind of shit? Fogedaboutit.

>My name is David Weinberger and I am a Senior Design Manager here at FutureBrand.

Hello David. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

Thanks for the insight (although not as juicy as we had expected.) We still want to hear about the sheets of logos by freelancers for $200.00 though.

On Jun.30.2003 at 08:52 AM
griff’s comment is:

Wow, thanks for the insight, David.

Just a point of clarification, I assume you are not the same David Weinberger of the Cluetrain Manifesto?

On Jun.30.2003 at 11:19 AM
David W’s comment is:

Tan Tom Armin Griff

No problem, I am glad to contribute. I can take the heat. Keep it coming. You all give me a call if you ever want to run with the big boys.

Tom, who do you think that project will go to when it finally comes around?

Griff, different person.

On Jun.30.2003 at 11:33 AM
Tom’s comment is:

> Tom, who do you think that project will go to when it finally comes around?

Art Chantry. No, wait -

PrimoLandorFutureGram and Associates

Ofcourse I'll be available - I've got this great filter for blue 3D horizon effects.

Seriously - I don't see it changing anytime soon, whereas I was all for the UPS change. Who would you think would be in the running besides firms like FB, Landor, etc.

With all the history of the grand ole independent designer that everyone knew and somewhat adored or hated, the UPS logo change verified that all high-profile projects are going to the high-profile, highly processed(this is why a logo cost 2.3 million), high and mighty(big boys) "Branding" firms.

I would be curious as to how many non-designers on the FB and UPS side were involved in the design process? And how many egos were harmed in the making of this logo?

On Jun.30.2003 at 01:37 PM
David W’s comment is:

Have you ever seen THIS?

Wish I was part of that one.

On Jun.30.2003 at 03:02 PM
Tom’s comment is:

The logo, a collaboration of IBM's in-house design team and several outside agencies


On Jun.30.2003 at 03:09 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Dave--excellent post. For those of you who might not realize it, Mr. Weinberger is the same "Dave" who came to my defense in the devilish Burger King/Star Wars/AIGA discussion. (Thank you) The man certainly has balls. I like that.

You know what? We might not all agree on what is good design and what isn't, but I think we all agree that design matters. And together we need to communicate that. Real loud.

Disagreement and different opinions are necessary in what we do. Fundamentally necessary. It keeps us on our toes, keeps us honest, accountable for our actions and most important: keeps us striving. We shouldn't like all of what we do. We need to stay critical. We need to give each other shit. We need to get Graham's middle of the night posts. I love it when I see something in front of me bigger and better than what I imagined. It makes the world grander and more hopeful. And certainly more optimistic.

On Jun.30.2003 at 03:24 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Mr. Weinberger is the same "Dave" who came to my defense in the devilish Burger King/Star Wars/AIGA discussion. (Thank you)

Aha! So that explains all of that. In case anybody forgot about that lovely discussion, here it is.

>The man certainly has balls. I like that.

For a moment there, that was in question, glad he exercised them balls and came clean.

>You all give me a call if you ever want to run with the big boys.

Hahaha... good one. I have one for you: So Tan, Armin,Felix, Tom and a priest walk into this large brand consultancy...

On Jun.30.2003 at 04:42 PM
Thom’s comment is:

It's about time. You say the logo is 40 years old, well I've been waiting 30 years for it to change (I turn 40 this month.) Seriously, I remember feeling ill whenever that ugly brown truck came around. Even during the 60's UPS looked like something out of the 20's or the depressed 30's. Will we have to wait another 40 years before they change the colors?

On Jul.01.2003 at 04:12 PM
Daniel B.’s comment is:

I'm not a designer or "brand consultant," but I do notice logos and can appreciate a good one.

In reading this & other discussions I notice a tremendous insecurity on the part of these brand consulting firms with their focus groups and market testing. If I wanted a logo I would hire an artist who was good enough to know what I needed & confident enough to say, "Here it is."

Paul Rand had his hits (Westinghouse) & misses (NEXT & Morningstar), and maybe UPS did need an update, but the "new" logo already looks dated. It looks like it was designed in 1995. It looks cheap.

"Brand revitalization" became trendy & I guess UPS wanted to jump on the bandwagon & get a curvy '90s-looking logo (a bit late).

A lot of the "branding" firms are stuck in the '90s, and they've produced monstrosities like Lucent (name & logo) & Verizon (name & logo). Someone from Landor actually said in an interview, "... if it's your own brand, how can you possibly be objective? I mean, would you name your own baby?" http://www.salon.com/media/col/shal/1999/11/30/naming/index2.html

Well, I wouldn't name him 'Agilent.'

So the UPS logo has been updated. The only problem is that it already needs another update.

On Jul.07.2003 at 07:45 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>If I wanted a logo I would hire an artist who was good enough to know what I needed & confident enough to say, "Here it is."

An artist? I have to admit, the UPS logo designed by Basquiat would be quite cool.

Just pulling your leg Daniel, I know what you meant by artist — Graphic Artist, like Sampotts.

On Jul.08.2003 at 09:04 AM
Tan�’s comment is:

Theres' a small article in this month's (jun/july) issue of Print magazine -- p.16, on the UPS rebranding.

A "Letter Bomb" excerpt:

"Branding watchers slammed the new logo's gleaming, "photorealistic" crest, zippy swoosh, militaristic burnished shield, and monogram rendered in a mutant Gill Sans. With its retro styling and trompe-l'oeil modeling, the revamped logo -- developed not by a graphic design firm but by FutureBrand, "a global authority on branding and marketing" -- signals a departure from decades of high-concept, abstracted identities."

So there it is. We've officially departed from decades of high-concept. Execution courtesy of the "global authority on branding and marketing."

The rest of the article has quotes from people who think 3-D logos "perform" better across media. Nevermind the concept or thinking behind the design -- just make sure it decorates well.

Well there you go supporters, enjoy.

On Jul.08.2003 at 06:13 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Tan�’s comment is:


Now back to your regularly scheduled UPS-bashing thread...

I love that Futurebrand isn't regarded as a graphic design firm. I suppose that would make them pleased. On the other hand, calling a firm nowadays "a graphic design firm" might be suggestive that they don't offer any real strategic services, just decoration, which is disappointing.

On Jul.08.2003 at 11:21 PM
Paul’s comment is:

While peering out an airplane window this weekend I spied, on the tarmac, a freshly painted UPS jet airplane. Although I have never really cared for the new logo, I have to say this plane looked mighty sharp in its new duds. I don't know that I ever noticed a UPS jet before, so at least as far as this arm of the identity is concerned, mission accomplished.

On Jul.09.2003 at 08:16 AM
Jon�’s comment is:

So I finally saw a new UPS truck today in the city. All the little beveling that goes on around the UPS letterforms is nasty. Ick. I'm happy the globe illustration is gone. I'm not so happy about the Dax. I used to like that typeface. Now that 'r' creeps me out.

Yes, surface issues only today.

On Jul.10.2003 at 05:24 PM
Tan�’s comment is:

Yes, yes, the planes are nice. And did you know that UPS invented their particular truck -- size, shape, etc.? I don't miss the globe either. But the new 3-D logo makes the whole truck look even more cartoony.

Speaking of UPS trucks -- I would love to buy a Honda Element and paint it UPS brown. I love that thing.

On Jul.11.2003 at 12:08 AM
David W’s comment is:

From the New York Times:

July 23, 2003

U.P.S. Increases Earnings 13%, Exceeding Analysts' Estimates


ATLANTA, July 22 (AP) — United Parcel Service reported today that its second-quarter profit rose 13 percent, surpassing Wall Street expectations. The company cited strong growth in its international business.

U.P.S. earned $692 million, or 61 cents a share, compared with $611 million, or 54 cents a share, in the period a year earlier.

The earnings included a gain of $14 million, or 1 cent a share, from the sale of a small subsidiary, UPS Mail Technologies.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 59 cents a share, including the gain from the asset sale.

Revenue totaled $8.23 billion, up 7 percent from the $7.68 billion reported in the 2002 quarter.

U.P.S., based in Atlanta, said international revenue increased nearly 20 percent in the quarter. Worldwide export volume climbed 6.2 percent, led by a 15 percent gain in Asia.

D. Scott Davis, the chief financial officer, said the company was performing better than the rest of the economy. He also credited a rebranding initiative for increasing profit.

U.P.S. derives most of its $33 billion in annual revenue from small-package deliveries in the United States. But overseas shipments, finance and supply-chain management are growing, and that is where executives think the future lies.

Mr. Davis said that U.P.S. this quarter expected a volume gain of 2 percent to 3 percent in domestic business, international operating margins to improve and earnings of 58 cents to 62 cents. Analysts forecast 60 cents.


It is not very often that a branding initiative is publicly recognized for contributing to business results.

On Jul.29.2003 at 11:56 AM
Tan’s comment is:

All PR is good PR. The short-term success of the branding initiative is expected. But it is not an indication or judgement of the success or failure of the execution or the rebranding.

You also have to consider the millions of dollars that UPS put into advertising to support the millions of dollars of expenditure into the initiative. That type of noise surely would not go unnoticed by Wall Street or investors.

But is it more than that, just noise and spin?

Interesting article David -- but to me, it's not an indication of anything significantly long term yet.

On Jul.29.2003 at 12:13 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

I think the revised messaging probably has more to do with the rebranding success than the changed logo, as well it should. Too many identity changes forget this part of the equation, leaving new window dressing on a weathered window.

Sorry, Dave, you're preaching to an inconvertible choir! ;-)

On Jul.29.2003 at 12:23 PM
brendan murphy’s comment is:

God forgive them.

On May.25.2004 at 09:04 PM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

Nice to see you Brendan.

On May.25.2004 at 09:08 PM
Armin’s comment is:

[Grabs beer and moseys on to the other side of the room]

- Hi, what's going on here? Still talking about UPS?

On May.26.2004 at 08:44 AM
Tom’s comment is:

Here's the one thing I have noticed a year or so later. The new logo is more noticeable. Maybe, for me, that's because of the heated discussion here. Or maybe any change will draw attention to a 40 year old identity. But, like it or not, as the new trucks roll by the new sheild really kicks off the darker brown.

On May.26.2004 at 09:20 AM
Tom’s comment is:


UPS Reports 18 Percent Jump in 2Q Profit

On Jul.22.2004 at 09:27 AM
Dan’s comment is:

In stead of bickering about the logo ( UPS ) and talking about the "nice" logo that fed ex or any other big companies may have, let us all remember their main concern. That concern is getting your parcel from one place to another in the same condition it left, I have had a small buisness for over 10 years and have shipped roughly 1200 items a year. It was a no brainer to go with UPS and i have yet to have a problem. That, is what they are about.

On Apr.25.2005 at 02:31 AM
Mark’s comment is:

Intersting to note, it looks like the inspiration for the new UPS logo came from the 1937 UPS logo seen here.


In fact the design is almost identical straight down to the letter forms

On Dec.17.2006 at 11:06 PM
Mark’s comment is:

heres a better link, take a look at the logo underneith the Paul Rand one you'll notice the similarities.


On Dec.17.2006 at 11:16 PM
Greg Formager’s comment is:

"Any time you have to add greater “visual impact” to a logo it’s not a great sign of the logo’s strengths."

Interpreted sardonically:

What we need is a logo without anything that will add greater impact!!! Yes!! That is the ultimate logo design!! Otherwise it's not a good logo anyway. So lets see... Colors add greater impact. Let's nix those. Also shape tends to add greater impact. Can't have that. Any sort of contemporary styling - that's obviously a no-no as it adds TONS of unwanted extra impact.

Get real dawg! If you think it's bad design then you think it's bad design. But basing your argument on faulty logic is no way to go. They chose a bad set of words to describe what they were doing. And they are being twisted here to harp on the design.

On Jun.13.2007 at 04:56 PM