on Jul 12th, 2013 | 72 comments

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but what about Parcel Post and Express Mail? If these products have new names, will they be more appealing to customers? We are about to find out. 

Later this month, the U.S. Postal Service will change the name of Express Mail to Priority Mail Express. Earlier this year, the Postal Service renamed Parcel Post to Standard Post. These name changes also come with some product enhancements, including improved tracking and insurance services. All of these changes are designed to strengthen the Postal Service’s shipping business in the rapidly expanding package delivery arena.

Parcel Post, one of the Postal Service’s oldest products and among its best-known brands, just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Its origin in 1913 is memorialized in stone at the old Post Office Department headquarters in Washington, D.C, where it is among a list of historic postal products inscribed in the building’s façade. In 1977, Express Mail became one of the few new “subclasses” created since passage of the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act. Since then, it has been known as the Postal Service’s premier express mail service, providing overnight delivery to some destinations. Of course, postal products should evolve to meet market needs, not remain frozen in time like an etching in stone.

Despite the long history of these products, the Postal Service believes that these rebranding changes will reinvigorate them and make them more competitive. In particular, the Express Mail change seeks to capitalize on the strong Priority Mail brand and the positive associations with it. Express Mail volume has fallen three times faster than Priority Mail since 2006, and Priority Mail is 20 times larger than Express Mail; and unlike Express Mail, Priority Mail has seen recent volume growth. Also, the Postal Service said “Priority Mail Express” will allow it to offer more definitive service expectations. Priority Mail will no longer be called a “2-3 day” service, and instead customers will get 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day service based on the specific origin-destination characteristics of the package.  

Do you think the name change will reinvigorate Express Mail? Will customers be confused by the name changes? Are the name changes important from a sales and marketing perspective, or are there other service-related changes that would help? 

Regarding Standard Post, does the jettisoning of the established “Parcel Post” brand strengthen the Postal Service’s position in the shipping business? Does the inclusion of “Standard” in the title make it too similar to other postal products, notably the mail category of Standard Mail, which is used by business mailers to send advertising? Or is the name likely to be unimportant to users of this ground parcel service?

Do you agree with the Postal Service’s decision to change the name of Express Mail and rename Parcel Post?


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Agreed with everyone else that this is a really bad idea. Ironic, I suppose, that months after their posts, ALL of the above commenters expressing their opinions about a name change... had their own names changed! Now they all read "Anonymous". Up until about 9/15/2013 their publicly (and voluntarily) posted names were allowed to stand, lending credence to their overwhelming complaints about this latest USPS boondoggle.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Over the weekend we did an upgrade to our blog site and the upgrade defaulted the settings on the comments to "Anonymous". We believe we have it fixed now and for those who included their names with their comments, the names should be visible again. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Hey moderator, thank you for the "full disclosure". It does reassure me that you're paying attention and taking us seriously. And thanks for fixing it.

Now about that "branding" :)

Received a **PRIORITY MAIL** EXPRESS Envelope sent from FL and I had to pay $15.00 to get it. Person thought he was sending Priority Mail and he was sending Express. Envelope is totally confusing and it took 6 days to get to me.
Is this really the way to instill any confidence in the USPS?
Do you suppose it is a (temporary) way for them to make extra money? Not very ethical to say the least.

Another attempt to simplify has become another bane to the average user of the Postal Service. Having two unique options to send your mail combined into one package!!!!! On one hand we have the very popular Priority mail option and then we have the Express mail option, both unique in their own ways. Now we go and combine the two names together on packaging that will further confuse the customer when they come to mail their products. If this is not another way to keep our customers away from using the Post Office, I don't know what is. This idea goes hand in hand with the idea of doing away with the blue and orange Express bags and using regular tyvek bags and slapping an express label on it. If we want to bring our delivery numbers up we have to keep a way of differentiating our services so they can be shipped correctly, not by combining names of our popular mailing options so as to confuse our wonderful customers into using the wrong mailing boxes! Here sir, Try one of these Priority Mail Express Standard Media Mail 2-Day boxes.....is this the next big idea????????

I don't think we care what you call it, but since online shops seem to want to use it, I'd just like decent customer service when I go in and mail delivered during the time frame I paid for. In my city if it comes into the office late Thursday or Friday, they'll put it in your box Monday. No rush... We have to go in and convince them to look for it. I would never have a client again if I did that.

Tracking has not improved and the mobile system is frequently unavailable. Who cares what you name your services if they are inferior to ups and fedex?

It is causing a lot of confusion with my customers, so I just use the old names. Why anyone would think Priority Mail Express makes it less confusing is beyond me. It would be funny, if it didnt harm my business so much.

I'm going to give both an "atta-boy" and a "screw-up" award to USPS. First the "atta-boy": for years I've wondered what "tracking" meant to USPS - never got any updates between the sending point and the receiving point and suddenly: TTRACKING WORKS!!! Atta-boy! Now the bad news: just shipped a parcel by "2-day Priority" - checked in at the end of Day 2 to find it not half way to destination with an expected delivery on Day 5. Obviously, they knew it wasn't going to get there in 2 (or 3 or 4) days when it left. That's no way to build confidence, a track-record, or customers! Might as well have shipped it Standard Post - couldn't do any worse!

I need to know the name of the person ultimately responsible for the implementation of a new form that clearly confuses the carriers, during December, the month of Christmas. My daughter still hasn't received her package. They were supposed to LEAVE IT. I double checked with the USPS employees at my end to make sure I filled it out correctly. The manager/department head, etc. that thought the holiday season would be a good time to make a switch to a form that the carriers do not understand, needs to come forward. The new name of the service is not really that important if the service doesn't work.

I'd really like to know what company did the marketing research for this boondoggle of a change. There was never any "brand name confusion" - express mail saw a drop in use because it was too expensive and the USPS couldn't provide the level of service that UPS and FedEx provide - real time tracking and ON TIME delivery! Priority mail is useful for those of us who don't want to go to the bother of shipping by the other carriers - i.e. Weighing packages, finding a drop box or pick-up point. I foresee waste as customers use the wrong packages and waste time at the windows changing to the cheaper option. And I as I currently have the "floor" - shipping "standard post" is practically impossible as the window attendant will almost always upgrade to priority unless the customer is vigilant in asking for the lower cost service.

It's just another reason the postal service is going broke. Whoever it is that comes up with these dumb ideas is not only out of touch, but making an obvious ploy to be deceptive by jumbling up old and new names in hopes that no one will notice when they charge more for less service. It's an alarming and disgusting trend that seems to be pervasive in every aspect of our government. A great example of bureaucratic bean counters sitting in a board room thinking "shiny ideas" that have no substance and do nothing to address the serious issues facing the postal service. Unethical morons.

Priority mail express is a joke. Paid to get it to a major city on West coast in USA overnight. Was accepted at local east coast post office at 2:30 PM and according to the tracker on line, never even made it out of the state that day. Was supposed to be delivered by 10 AM on west coast and tracker doesn't even show the time it left local state, let alone an arrival on the west coast. What a joke. This is last time I will use Post office overnight service

Had a similar problem about a month ago mailing simple Priority mail from West Coast to East Coast. Took 4 days!

SO FED up with postal service and the excuses, 2 times I had packages that I was expecting, I checked the tracking #'s mid day when my mail lady usually comes, both times packages were scanned as delivered. Come to find out she scanned them and never delivered them. After I frantically went thru the neighborhood checking to see if maybe she left them at the wrong address, I had to make a trip to the post office to retrieve them. The excuse was she scanned them at the start of the route but couldn't make it down your street, because of snow flurries, and I mean the roads were not even covered. My latest complaint is I shipped out a package that the receipt clearly states delivery on 3/20/2014 , 2 day priority mail. Well it wasn't delivered that day or the next. and according to tracking info. available it won't be today either. The post office doesn't update their tracking info. in a timely manner. According to the tracking info. my package was sitting in Springfield, MA. on the day it was suppose to be delivered. This is the LAST TIME I use the postal service for packages, I will pay extra money and use FedEx or UPS. At least I know my package will get to its destination on time. The whole postal service is a joke, and they keep raising rates for what, it certainly isn't to improve their services.

We order expensive live chicks and not having overnight delivery has cost the lives of several indefensible baby chickens. Very sad when you think you can get overnight delivery only to have it take 2 days!!! We didn't know until just now that true Express Mail is a thing of the past. We kept requesting the breeder to send the chicks with guaranteed overnight delivery and couldn't understand why we kept getting the chicks delivered in 2 days. Now we know. Express Priority is just glorified Priority Mail. This is just another in a long line of fiascoes by the USPS. You truly have to know the inner workings of the Postal Service to understand why they would do away with Express Mail. Instead of management mismanaging the delivery of the mail it would be have been a much wiser decision for them to keep Express Mail; now this service will just be picked-up by alternative carriers such as FedEx. FedEx now you just need to accept live animal shipment and you will have our business!

The new USPS 2 day priority mail is a fraud. The package often takes longer than three days and their tracking system has become a joke. To make matters worst when I went to a Post Office to inquire about this I was met with unsympathetic and rude postal workers. I have paid up to $10 for a faster service and have received parcel post faster than the more expensive 2 day. The only way the USPS will correct this is if you hit them where it hurts. Their pocket! Everybody should stop using USPS for packages and start using UPS or FEDEX. I have never had this tracking or packing stalling problem with them. Stop complaining and use FedEx or UPS only then will they take their problem serious.

ANYTHING that causes people at a full-service counter to pause and think about what they want to buy will harm the efficiency of the store, confuse (and possibly anger) customers, and will not yield the expected growth in a product line any more than price and service. Priority Mail is a great product. Express Mail was a fine product, too. What in the world is Priority Mail Express supposed to be? It's bad enough that you get the "20 questions" from the SSA for even the most routine transactions. Now you will have the customers asking the questions right back, and having to fill out a special label at the counter. The answer is revenue AND turnover, not "maybe we can trick someone into buying express service when all they needed was Priority Mail.

I mistook your new envelope for a Priority Mail envelope and my package came back. Who came up with the hair-brained idea to name Express Mail Priority mail? I'll bet you thousands of people are picking up the wrong envelopes. In my case, apparently there were no Priority Mail envelopes, so I just assumed the Priority Express Mail envelope was used for both. Now that would make sense. Save on printing costs.

You have a problem with delivery a service on a consistent basis. You have closed the airport express mail facility. You no longer guarantee express mail until delivered to the post office very early in the day.

Now, you want to add another area of confusion to a area which you are having problems with a product. Last thing you want to do unless the name clarifies the service you are delivering. Priorlty Mail express sounds like Priority mail. Express mail clearly states the name of the product. My opinion, very bad decision to rename a product which only needs to be improved by being able to accept & guarantee the mail when deliveried later to the post-office. Fedex allow drop-offs as late at 10:15pm for delivery the following day. NOT THE POST OFFICE!! I'm not sure what the hours are now regarding next day delivery.

Douglas Satcher

More bureaucratic self-justification. Service getting worse. Delivery and scanning of Priority Mail is inconsistent making for a frustrating customer experience. One can track a package across the nation and when it arrives at the large PO, it disappears without a tracking scan.

the name "priority express mail" on boxes etc is confusing people with 'priority mail'. In mixing the two terms "priority' and "express' it leads to confusing. I just had to pay $34 extra to receive a package that was sent "priority' mail, but, packaged in a "priority express mail" box. The originator sent it "priority mail" but, in order to receive it, I had to pay the "express mail' price because it was in a "priority express mail" box, not a "priority mail" box. This is highly confusing. Please take the word "priority" off of all marketing and boxes for "express mail".

Why not just call it overnight post or overnight parcel. That's what you're selling and that will make it easier for the consumer to decide if they want to overnight it or get there in two or three days (Priority or Priority fixed rate). The post office should be expanding their hours and making it easier to do business with them. Instead they allienate the customers by making changes without considering the impact on mailers. Also, they need to improve their tracking system updates so it gives more timely information instead of just when 'someone' decides to scan it.