One of the most instantly recognizable logos in the entire world, the UPS logo, began its long-running existence in 1919, after the company successfully merged with one of their local competitors. Since then, the United Parcel Service of America has become the number one package delivery service in the world.
Around since August 1907, UPS was founded in Seattle, Washington by James E. Casey. Currently headquartered in Sandy Springs, Georgia, the package delivery company also has its own air cargo delivery service, as well as its own airline. However, they are perhaps mostly known for their brown uniforms and delivery trucks.
The UPS logo has been around for almost one hundred years, despite changing a couple of times. Plus, with the company now being more profitable than ever, we should take a look at the UPS logo history and see how this internationally famous design came to be.
UPS Logo Design Elements
Being around for so long, it was only a matter of time before people started associating the UPS logos with the values and qualities for which the company itself stands. Whether we’re talking about the UPS shield logo, the eagle logo, the parcel logo, or any of the others, you know that you can rely on UPS and their nearly flawless delivery system.
So, as people started making those connections, they also started analyzing the design elements of the UPS logo. Aside from the creative design elements, such as the eagle, the parcel, etc., we will also focus on the meta, or self-referential design elements of the UPS emblem. These are, of course, the shape of the logo, its color, and the font in which the UPS text is displayed.
Changes and Evolution
Over its one hundred years of existence, the UPS logo has gone through three different changes. Two of these are more recent and are still being used today. Unlike many logos belonging to companies that have been established for as long as UPS, the UPS logo has changed drastically over the years.
The first change took place in 1937, and the changes were pretty drastic. They occurred as a result of the company gaining momentum and becoming more popular. The next change occurred in 1961, and it was even more drastic than the first one. The last major redesign took place in 2003, and the logo has mostly remained the same since then – although another, flatter and less chromed version of the logo was designed in 2014.
The first version of the UPS logo was designed in 1916, by the founder of UPS himself, James E. Casey. It featured an eagle carrying a package in its talons, across a bronze shield background. This old UPS logo also featured the words “Swift, safe, and sure” in order to describe the company’s quality of service.
Next, 1937 came along with a design re-haul, so as to reflect the changes suffered by the growing company. The eagle was removed from the shield, and the letters UPS were added to the UPS logo. The company’s slogan, “The Delivery System for Stores of Quality”, was also added to the upper part of the emblem. A ribbon was also added to the bottom of the UPS store logo.
UPS’ next logo incarnation was introduced in 1961 and was created by one of the most admired and renowned American graphic designers of all time – Paul Rand. The new UPS logo featured the shield, with the UPS letters inside it, and with a parcel tied up with a ribbon above it. It was also the first incarnation of the logo to feature the “Registered” symbol next to the logo.
Then came one of the two UPS logos currently being used by the parcel-delivery company. Designed in 2003, the logo lost the parcel, and the shield was made taller, as it originally was until 1961. This is the incarnation of the UPS logo everybody knows today. The only difference between this one and the one that would come out in 2014 is that the next one was made to look a little flatter.
Before we start talking about the meaning behind the colors of the UPS logo, we have to first make a mention about its primary color. Despite originally starting off as bronze, and the color of the UPS logo actually being more bronze than brown, the company has fully embraced its representative color. In fact, the company’s slogan even was “What can brown do for you?” at some point.
Being the color of earth, wood, and some stones, brown has always been associated with reliability, security, stability, honesty, and establishing grounds or foundations. It is a warm color, which promotes trust and loyalty, as well as motivation for people to get involved with the company in the future.
Meanwhile, yellow is a color often associated with joy, intellect, energy, and happiness. It produces a calming, warming effect, generating muscle energy, raising cheerfulness, and stimulating mental activity. It is often used to grab someone’s attention, as well as to get people excited about using a certain product or service.
Very elegant in nature, the UPS logo font is very simple, yet expressive. It holds a number of unique qualities, which have helped the emblem’s owners become as successful as they are today. The golden letters are meant to evoke the company’s reliability, as well as its proud nature and long history.
Another very interesting thing about the current UPS logo font is that it still keeps the font personally created by hand by the famous designer Paul Rand. It perfectly represents the company, its values, and everything it stands for. It’s no surprise that the UPS logo had such huge success given that the legendary Paul Rand worked on it.
Inspiration and Trivia
Known for designing some of the most successful company logos of all time, including IBM’s, ABC’s, Morningstar’s, Enron’s, and that of Yale University Press, Paul Rand was a much-beloved American graphic designer. He started gaining international acclaim in his twenties and has only gotten more and more appreciated as his career moved forward.
In fact, László Moholy-Nagy, a famous Hungarian painter, photographer, and professor, had this to say about a young up-and-coming Rand:
“Among these young Americans, it seems to be that Paul Rand is one of the best and most capable [. . .] He is a painter, lecturer, industrial designer, [and] advertising artist who draws his knowledge and creativeness from the resources of this country. He is an idealist and a realist, using the language of the poet and business man. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems but his fantasy is boundless.”
The artist managed to help create a huge number of corporate identities for companies and organizations. This was happening while many of them were fighting over him, as Rand was one of the most requested American graphic designer of all time.
In its more than one hundred years of professionalism, UPS has become synonymous with reliability, trustworthiness, and excellence through quality delivery. The UPS logo is one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable logos in the world, and the company itself is the number one global parcel delivery service. And it’s all thanks to an inspired design and a nigh-impeccable business practice.