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?