Friday, July 02, 2021

Delivering a new name

What a company is called seldom really matters to the product or service it provides, but sometimes a re-naming/re-branding can show how much conditions have changed. An example of that began unfolding in New Zealand recently.

In the past week or so, TV commercials suddenly appeared touting the company’s new logo (above) and branding (the ad doesn’t appear to be available online, but the company has posted a video with its CEO, David Walsh, talking about the change). The headline version is that New Zealand Post is merging all its operations under the brand “NZ Post”. That includes New Zealand Post and its parcel delivery brands, Courier Post and Pace.

The main reason for this re-branding is that the company faces the same reality as postal systems in most countries: The amount of ordinary mail delivered has been declining for many, many years. At the same time, the number of packages and parcels being delivered continues to grow steadily. Re-branding everything as NZ Post will, one assumes, make it easier for the company to maintain profits as traditional postal deliveries trend toward disappearance.

All of this has implications, of course. For example, traditionally, magazines were delivered to home letterboxes, but reductions in those services will affect publishers’ ability to maintain, let alone grow, their readership. The New Zealand public has long been a big consumer of magazines, but will that continue if they have to buy them at a shop somewhere?

Online shopping has been growing steadily in New Zealand, a trend that seems to have been helped along by the Covid-19 pandemic when Alert Levels sometimes made it difficult to go to shops to get things. Early indications are that Kiwi consumers realised they like the convenience of ordering online and having the order delivered, but that has implications for retailers with physical shops—the so-called “bricks-and-mortar retailers”. That, in turn, could cause the sort of downturn in retail sales at physical shops that the USA has already seen, leading to the decline of shopping malls (something that New Zealand hasn’t yet seen). On the other hand, major retailers in NZ all have online ordering options, as do many smaller retailers, especially niche retailers. Will that balance out?

Against this back drop is the certainty that residential delivery of mail (like letters) will continue to be decline, and so will services. In my neighbourhood, we currently get mail delivered three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—but only if there’s no public holiday. A four day weekend like Easter is particularly disruptive: It means no possible letter deliveries for a week. However, that doesn’t really matter anymore.

Like most people, none of my bills or statements are delivered by post anymore. Most are delivered by email, with a few requiring me to go to their website to download them. Many companies have Apps for my phone that let me check things in real time, long before a bill is issued (phone/Internet companies have done this for a long time, and now energy companies, banks, and more all have Apps that customers can use). All of which means that I don’t need frequent postal deliveries, because I almost never get anything by post, anyway—which is why I now sometimes I forget to check the letterbox for around a week.

Sending stuff is another matter, but not dissimilar. I don’t pay anything with a cheque, not the least because none of my banks issue them anymore and, in some cases, haven’t for a quite awhile. That doesn’t matter, anyway, because years ago Nigel and I started paying all our bills either online or by direct debit if it was a recurring bill (like monthly or quaterly).

In the rare instances I need to send a physical thing to someone, like an original document, I’d use a courier, not the ordinary post. The new system will make that better because the company announced that all domestic packages will be tracked (that used to be an optional extra one could pay for separately).

However, there have been issues with Courier Post in particular. Some people who send parcels have said it’s sometimes been difficult got get them to pick up a package in the promised timeframe. Deliveries can be another problem: I recently had two packages coming to me from Auckland and their website told me they were with the courier for delivery—only to have them suddenly listed as back at the depot (in both cases, they were delivered the following day). Will unifying the company under one brand fix any of those shortcomings?

In my personal situation, the NZ Post re-naming/re-branding won’t really matter for the delivery of its products or services: It’s just a new name/look for what’s already been going on. Even so, this reinforces how much things related to New Zealand’s postal services have changed and are continuing to change. As that change accelerates, what will matter won’t be what name they call themselves, it’ll be how the company delivers its products and services to its customers, and that’s the area where they do need some changes, in my opinion.

Side notes:

The company’s old logo (at left) featured an envelope which, I always felt, included a stylised “NZ” in the design of the flap (Nigel first pointed that out to me, and now I can't "unsee" it). It’ll be weird not to see it any more, but considering how delivery of letters has been declining for more than a decade, it’s not really very relevant any more.

Also, when I saw the new logo, I was struck by how much it reminded me of the logo for Australia Post (at right), with a stylised "P" in a solid red circle.


Roger Owen Green said...

Most of the bills I pay online.
Most of the mail is catalogs, political solicitations, magazines, and colleges recruiting

Arthur Schenck said...

I get so little mail anymore that it's really easy to forget about it. However, I had some rewards points from a loyalty scheme to use up, so I chose a 6-month subscription to a magazine, so I guess I'll at least get six things delivered.