Monday, Feb. 08, 2010

The New Post Office

In an effort to compete with mail companies with brandlike names such as FedEx and UPS, in 2001 Britain's post office made the risky marketing decision to change its name from the hallowed Royal Mail — in use since it was first made available to the public by Charles I in 1635 — to the made-up Consignia. The post office's chief executive, John Roberts, called the new moniker "modern, meaningful and entirely appropriate," explaining that "the new name describes the full scope of what the post office does in a way that the words post and office cannot." A bewildered public, quite comfortable with the definitions of the words post and office, disagreed. A year later the company changed back.