Friday, October 18, 2013

United States Postal Service (1993)

Twenty years ago this month, on October 12, 1993, the United States Postal Service introduced a new identity. The bureaucratic organisation was facing stiff competition from the likes of FedEx and UPS and needed to be run more like a business to survive.

The task of rebranding this huge organisation was assigned to CYB Yasumura Design, lnc., a New York subsidiary of Young & Rubicam, who were the postal service's ad agency at the time. CYB Yasumura was founded in 1981 and headed by Matsuo Yasumura who had a background as an art director within Y&R. The firm's handling of the account was later investigated for improprieties, which caused Mr. Yasamura to resign.

The design itself wasn't that well received either. The previous symbol was a classic, designed by Raymond Loewy and introduced in 1970. Its replacement was much more corporate, with all the letters in the full name crammed into a unwieldy wordmark. It is also one of very few logos to be ridiculed on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update. Reporting on the new logo, anchor Kevin Nealon explained that "the eagle depicted is a special breed known for its incompetence, slow flight and sudden bursts of violent behaviour against former co-eagles".

Nonetheless, this identity has survived more or less intact for twenty years. Meanwhile, the Internet has had the net effect of fewer letters being sent, and the USPS continues to manage its inevitable decline.

1970 logo by Raymond Loewy.

Some Flickr images showing applications from this look, which is still a part of everyday life in the US:


US Postal Service Mailbox

New packaging display at the United States Postal Service

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