“It’s a beautiful day out, what should we do today?”
“It’s so gorgeous outside. Let’s go do something.”
“The weather is so nice. I wonder if there’s a farmer’s market?”
“I hear there’s an art festival this weekend.”
“I don’t want to waste it.”
These spots from the United States Postal Service should have concluded with, “for the love of God, mail something. Please.”
I didn’t realize just how much trouble the USPS was in until I visited a local branch to renew my wife’s passport. It was the first time I had been to a post office in a while, and everything from the beige interior to the boombox cassette player and TV with built-in VCR hinted at an organization that hasn’t kept pace. It appears that our digital world has made the USPS’ business model obsolete.
One of the things we do at Zeus Jones is study brands to figure out what makes them tick. We take this learning and apply it to our clients’ business problems. The post office would do well to adopt this strategy and take a few cues from modern digital brands.
We often look to Google as the perfect example of a purpose driven brand. Everyone knows Google for its core search product, but the company’s purpose is much broader. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. This gives Google the ability to offer a diverse range of services like YouTube, Gmail, Google+ and Chrome.
If the USPS followed Google’s lead and defined a broader purpose for itself, it could do much more than deliver physical post and parcel. The USPS should reevaluate its purpose for the digital age and offer new services accordingly.
Could the USPS offer a secure, federally guaranteed cloud service? Could the post office bring high speed Internet to rural communities? What if the USPS’ next great undertaking was to help wire all of America for data? The extra revenue could help supplement delivery service.
What if a visit to the post office didn’t have to feel like a mix between the DMV and a Soviet bread line?
Thanks in part to design thinking, companies are considering their brands and business models in a more holistic fashion. What they’ve found is that product and experience are intrinsically linked.
No company understands this better than Apple. It’s apparent in the retail expression of its design philosophy, the Apple Store. The Apple Store feels streamlined and modern, service is good and check out is effortless. Perhaps the post office could ditch the long lines and confusing options to adopt some of the best aspects of the Apple Store?
Part of Facebook’s brilliance has been its ability to establish itself as the standard for identity on the web. Its given users an easy way to access their personal information on digital services beyond Facebook, creating a better experience its users. What if the USPS could follow Facebook’s lead and make interaction with government hassle free?
I had to take time out of my busy day to drive down to the post office and send out paperwork via certified letter. This process is beginning to feel more and more antiquated as more and more of our business moves online – the exact reason behind the commercials above.
What if the post office offered a secure digital ID that enables us to notarize documents, renew driver’s licenses and apply for passports online? Rather than attempting to change behavior by frightening people into distrusting eBills and online banking, why not work to create a better option?
The USPS’ woes really trouble me because I know just how important the local branch is to small towns like the one I grew up in. With a string of closures planned for rural America, I hope the USPS’ leadership will soon realize that they need to invest in innovation, not ineffective messaging.