Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A REAL POST- The USPS Gets Into the Branding Game

Several months ago I wrote about America’s Brand as seen through the pages on my passport. It seems that they’re not the only arm of government to redefine its image. The Postal Service, which has a budget of $30 – $35 million a year for advertising, wants people to view them in a new light.

Rant 1: Why is the budget a floating number with a $5 million spread?
Rant 2: Why does the post office need to spend $35 million on advertising?

Though I don’t have the answer to my first question, I can presume that the cost of a stamp- now at almost half a dollar, makes people like myself reconsider whether to actually mail my checks, or use the online bill paying services of my Bank- Bank of America- another recent member of the re-branding club. Losing so much revenue from no-competition stamps means they’re forced to compete head to head against mighty brands like FedEx, UPS and DHL. And that is a problem and the answer to Rant 2.

The manager of advertising and promotion at the Postal Service said that though the brand is changing, customers were not viewing them as the contemporary and competitive organization they are.

The new theme: Today’s Mail.

The ads highlight some new services including shipping a package from your kitchen, creating customized postage stamps, automated postal centers and “eco-friendly” packaging to mail gifts. (Lets cover every base including green- rant 3.) The attributes were culled from the information received from 37 focus group sessions around the country and it’s the first time a theme has been used USPS advertising in 10 years. The ads use real people and, in addition to appearing in both print and online, will appear…. Guess where…. Right in your mailbox. A Brand New Postcard will be sent to 146 million addresses. Direct Mail for Today’s Mail. (Not to be confused with Today’s Male.) I just wasn’t that impressed.

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