UPS and its strange love affair with Brown and Gold

I’m certain that everyone has seen this logo show up outside their door on the side of a large brown truck, or be handed a box with its logo attached and have had some feeling of excitement.

I mean, Everyone loves a package. Apart from that feeling of joy, the excitement ends there with this new UPS logo.

At least for me…

In, 1907 a young James Casey started The American Messenger Company. They delivered small packages to retail stores until 1913 when they acquired their first delivery vehicle (a Model-T). In 1916 they merged with a competitior and formed Merchants Parcel Service. This growth allowed them to expand delivery outside of Seattle. They then changed their name to UPS and adopted its first Logo, a depiction of a Eagle flying with a package within its claws. From the evolution of the Nazi-esque Eagle carrying a parcel to the present rendition of the UPS logo. There has been only one constant; the use of the original colors of Brown And Gold and the shield. 

My original thoughts of what the logo meant were that of the sun rising on the Earth and perhaps that, UPS was always working to deliver your mail promptly. Sounds good but not what it means. UPS has evolved from that of “swift,safe,secure” to “The Delivery System of Stores of Quality”, which seems pretty elitist to me. But I guess you have to promote your business, especially if you’re trying to survive the Great Depression.

To the third update in 1961 designed by Paul Rand. Which like many other people happens to be my favorite of the company’s different variations.

It really is a great design that not only touches on the original design of the shield but represents what they’re most none for (packages).

To the update back to the Brown and Gold shield with the weird reflection above the U, which was to give the logo a “3D” feel? Thankfully they changed it in 2014 and took away the voluminous look and to the now more relevant flat look.

The Brand colors are pretty simple and I’m sure most would agree, boring. But seemed to have worked well for UPS. That odd combination has made UPS stand out amongst its competitors for a century. 

And like a lot of companies UPS has there own propritery font, which makes absolute sense. Not that it’s as noticeable a font, as say NIKE’s Futura but along with the Brown and Gold it works.  

The marketing for UPS seems to be predominately on two fronts. On the automotive side; in their use of the traveling bill boards on their signature (BIG BROWN TRUCK), which is usually blank. Here we see it emblazened with a promotion for a Taylor Swifts album, Reputation. Which, simultaneously hints to the reputable and swift delivery of UPS. Well done. 

And there is also the sponsorships of Golf, NASCAR and Formula 1 Ferrari. 

Outside of the above mentioned sponsorships and the  Taylor Swift promotion. UPS has focused more of its advertisements and commercial content to promoting the use of The UPS Store and all the things you can do for your business or for yourself. Funny commercial but the highlight to me is perhaps how boring or one dimensional the woman is during the speed dating session. Which even though not shown until the end reminds me of the boringness of the UPS logo.  

In closing it seems that without the strange combination of the Brown and Gold colors, UPS is nothing more than a strange direction or part of an exercise that you do at the gym. A 100 year relationship with two colors that scream your company name when seen together, I can only imagine is a hard one to break from. But maybe its worth a change. I still think the logo is pretty boring but like they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” 

The Medium Is The Message

The medium is the message. What does that exactly mean? According to Marshal McLuhan it means the nature of a medium is more important than the message itself. This I find pretty much right on point and also very disturbing.

We live in a world that is dependent on information and the ease of receiving such information. Where we once had to wait for travelers to bring us news from the far reaches of our imagination to newspapers and then radio and then to our modern age of the cell phone, the importance and integrity in the message seems to have been diminished as well as the we were receiving such message.

The phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger”, I’m sure comes from some violence brought upon an individual that had the hard job of delivering some type of bad news. It seems today we don’t even bat an eye to the messenger and at many times for a certain sect of people don’t even question the message. The messenger (the medium) for this thread has evolved from being a worthy source of truth into a vehicle of 1/2 truths and political agendas. We used to place a lot integrity in the way the medium delivered the message to us. Probably the last form of media that is still given that “trust” is through print. Newspapers place an immense amount of research into the stories they chose to run with. Unfortunately in our Hi speed age it has become hard to decide where to place that full trust. The same news story is told differently when comparing from FoxNews, CNN, and ABC. That skew in information to specific audiences are what I believe is the danger in our society.

As our world continues to become more connected digitally and up to the second news, we seem to become more divided by the sources that play upon our differences. As our nation sits on a powder keg full of fears and anxiety we feel a moment of relief by removing a near by flame. But is it enough?? Or has the medium of the last 4 years played to the fears and insecurities of those receiving a message filled with hate shrouded with false patriotism, done irreparable harm? I guess we will have to wait and see….


Hi, my name is Garland Nichols. I am a “nontraditional” student? Whatever that means. Basically, I’m like the rest of you and have found a desire to feel my life with things that I find inspiring and beautiful. I was in the USNavy and have lived mostly in Oklahoma and Texas. I’m married to a kickass RN and have a 13yr old son and toooo many animals, 5cats/5dogs.

As far as design, I’ve always been interested in typography the way we used to make things. I find myself always questioning how and why did we as people trade away beauty for convenience? I find design inspiration in many things, but mainly in vintage advertising and packaging. Which has fueled my vice of collecting random items from fruit labels to the packaging for a single straight razor and cameras. I also love photography but more of the product photography aspect. My desires after graduation is to work within a company large or small filled with creative folk of all degrees and will give me the feeling that I did something that is fruitful to our society.