UPS ponders a new look Walter Woods Staff Writer United Parcel Service Inc. is considering hanging the familiar logo painted on its trucks since 1961 to better reflect new aspects of its businesses. Some executives in the halls of UPS headquarters in Dunwoody think the current UPS logo, a brown shield tied with package string, is antiquated and doesn't reflect the modern company, which now offers services from cargo shipping to financing, a company source said. What's more, UPS now tells its customers not to tie their packages with string because it either jams the handling machines or gets torn off in shipping. 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. The company is also leaning toward using "UPS" as its official company moniker, rather than the full title, - much like KFC, which dropped "Kentucky Fried Chicken," and even arch rival FedEx, which streamlined from "Federal Express." A company spokesperson acknowledged brushing up the shield was a possibility. "We've reviewed the possibility of refreshing our look," said Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokesperson. As to the flurry of recent trademarks, Rosenberg said that wasn't unusual. "We're always looking at options we may or may not use," she said. "Some trademarks are pursued as a defensive position to lock down things during testing [with consumers]." Companies regularly update their logos and branding to reflect changing times, said Ken Bernhardt, a marketing professor at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. "The key is to make it fresh while maintaining the equity that has been built with the consumer with the prior logo," Bernhardt said. Chick-fil-A Inc. has updated its logo several times, he said, as has The Coca-Cola Co., and many others. "But doing it right is critical," Bernhardt said. Changing a corporate logo is not cheap. Developing the design, testing it with consumers, and then changing everything from company trucks to business cards can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, said Srinivas Reddy, a marketing professor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Cingular Wireless, BellSouth Corp.'s wireless spinoff, spent about $100 million creating its new brand, Reddy said. Accenture, once the consulting arm of Arthur Andersen LLP, spent $200 million to rebrand. Some of the UPS brand updating has already begun, Bernhardt said. The company's chocolate trucks now feature globes to reflect its worldwide reach, he points out. And the "What Can Brown Do For You" ad campaign launched last year highlights the company's logistics and financial services, as well as its core package delivery business, he said. UPS Chief Financial Officer Scott Davis said in a conference call Jan. 28 that the company's Supply Chain Solutions, UPS Logistics Group and UPS Freight Services divisions are key to the company's future. "What Can Brown Do For You" is meant to communicate that, Bernhardt said. "The 'Brown' campaign is a great example of a company expanding the meaning of what the company is today," he said. UPS' new ventures are still a tiny slice of its revenue pie - about $735 million last quarter versus $6 billion from the core package delivery business. But that $735 million is a 12 percent increase over the same quarter in 2001. Meanwhile, package delivery volume has been down. The slower economy curbed UPS' package delivery business by 1.3 percent last quarter. UPS has pondered logo changes before, but its management committee has vetoed the ideas, a company source said. UPS was founded in 1905 as a purchase delivery service for department stores in Seattle. 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." In 1961, UPS hired Paul Rand, a legendary logo designer, to craft the current shield and package string icon. Rand, who died in 1996, also invented logos for IBM Corp. and ABC television, as well as the now infamous Enron Corp. "E." Besides possibly tinkering with its logo, UPS has been trademarking slogans related to its foray into retail. UPS bought Mail Boxes Etc. and its 4,300 locations from U.S. Office Products in April 2001, and may eventually rebrand those stores under the brown shield. UPS stores, where consumers can walk in and ship packages, are being tested in St. Louis; Seattle; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Greenville, S.C. UPS attorneys filed for trademarks on the words "UPS Store" last August, and the phrase "UPS Mail Logic" last July, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.