We’re incrementally losing the 20th Century: today, United Parcel Service has officially done away with its venerable, Paul Rand-designed logo in favor of a sleek, dimensionalized replacement. The new logo was created by Futurebrand as part of UPS’s strategy to become more than just a shipping and delivery service.Before I lament the loss of yet another classic logo, I should say that I think that Futurebrand has done a decent job with this rebranding. The new shield dutifully evolves’ the UPS identity, and competently maintains continuity with its predecessor. Looked at as simply an exercise in logotype design, this is tasteful work.
Good taste, of course, is the enemy of the great. What this logo lacks, and what Rand’s logo had in spades, is wit. Rand said that he knew when he’d hit upon the right design when his young daughter saw immediately that the top of the shield was a gift box. Its message was clear and simple: UPS delivers good things the effect was to inspire a smile. In spite of the fact that UPS forbade the use of string to tie up packages, the company recognized the emotional resonance that Rand’s work communicated, and they allowed it to become one of the most well-respected design landmarks of the modern world.
By contrast, this new design attempts to communicate a slippery, indistinct concept called ’synchronized commerce,’ which is otherwise expressed by Futurebrand in this absurd, meaningless diagram. This approach effectively denudes the pleasing quality of the old gift box’ logo in favor of a vague, characterless milieu that says nothing to nobody. Forgetting even the loss of a 20th Century icon, this then is the most lamentable effect of the new UPS logo: it deprives the world of a tiny bit of good-naturedness.