The United States Postal Service lost $8 billion last year and warns that it will be insolvent in just a couple of years. I guess “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” assumes there will always be enough money to pay our postal carriers. Though the Post Office has no official motto, the preceding statement had become the marching orders and battle cry since at least 1912 when it was inscribed on the James A. Farley Post office in New York City. Though true to a point, the Post Office has and continues to fail to live up to the sprit of that statement.
First off, I do not think that the Post Office has done a poor job in delivering the mail. I simply do not use the Postal Service. I have no need. Bills get paid online and letters that I once wrote are now sent electronically complete with movies, pictures, and sounds. We at Stealing Share use the Postal Service to send out new business information from time to time, but I never think of using the Postal Service to send packages. Although it does send packages, it is not in my considered set.
And this is what leads me to the USPS confusing what it does with what it sells.
Going back to the unofficial motto, there is one segment of it that must be noticed: “…completion of their appointed rounds.” It does not say, “completion of their appointed door to door mail route.” It says “appointed rounds.” As a branding company, this is exactly the kind of single-minded proposition we work to get clients to adopt. It is focused and easy to understand.
More importantly, it gives the brand the ability to grow as it is purposive instead of prossesive. Taken as a whole, the statement says, ‘Nothing will stop our people from delivering your message, no matter what kind of message it is.”
For the history of the Post Office, this simply means “We’ll get you the mail.”
The simple truth is that the Post Office has confused delivering the mail with what it really sells – getting customers what they need no matter what. It is only now that it understands the mistake and I fear it may be too late. It is a common fallacy for business to be so literal about what it thinks it is selling that it misses the opportunities right under its nose. While there is merit in saying focused on what you do, tunnel vision can be the death knell of a business and, unfortunately, the USPS is now coming to that reality.