Like every ambitious startup, San Francisco-based Shyp has a lofty goal: It wants to be “the new global standard in shipping.” That’s the long-term plan. Right now, what the company does is make it really easy to get a package on its way to its destination. You snap a photo of the item you want to ship with your smartphone, and a courier shows up and ferries it off to a Shyp warehouse, where it’s packed up and handed off to one of the big shipping services.
But Shyp is starting to prep itself for the day when it might take on a much higher percentage of the heavy lifting of shipping, end to end. The company is releasing a major new update to its app that introduces features designed for package recipients as well as senders. It’s also revising its logo and other branding elements to be ready for the bigger deal it hopes to become.
One of the new features is one of those things that sounds incredibly obvious once you’ve heard it. Shyp will let people associate their addresses with usernames they can pick themselves–such as “sarahsmith”–and then allow customers to send packages to a name rather than a street address. Akin to email addresses, usernames will eliminate the need to keep track of someone’s physical location. And if you move, you can keep your username and simply update the address it’s connected with.
Shyp’s app will include built-in tracking features for the first time, letting recipients keep tabs on packages as they make their way to their destination. It will also allow a recipient to schedule a specific delivery time. These features will work for recipients no matter where they’re located, giving Shyp some visibility in areas where it doesn’t yet have a presence. (The company currently picks up items for shipping only in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Chicago.)
Shyp, which was founded in 2013, started out with all the branding earmarks of an app-economy startup: a creatively spelled name, a quirky logo (with a wing over the “h”), and a playful term–“heroes”–for the people it sent out into the world to interact with customers. Now all that’s left of that original image is the “y” in “Shyp.” The company started referring to its couriers simply as “couriers” a few months ago, and it’s redoing its logo to look crisp and straightforward rather than quirky.
Shyp has been mulling over the move to a more professional image for a long time. Marketing honcho Lauren Sherman, who joined the company as its fifth employee in April 2014, told me that she informed cofounder Kevin Gibbon early on that “you’ve got a real brand problem here.”
“It was really an approachable and sweet brand,” Sherman says. “And we are not a sweet company. We are building a real logistics company.” The new look aspires to compete with the remarkably durable branding of UPS–which has had brown trucks for a century–and FedEx. If UPS owns brown as definitively as any company owns a color, Shyp hopes to take possession of the neon green it’s chosen for its new logo.
As for transitioning away from calling couriers “heroes,” Sherman says her thinking was influenced by her previous work at TaskRabbit, which started out calling its errand-doers “Rabbits” before switching to the slightly more dignified “Taskers.”
“It’s frankly a little offensive,” she says of the general practice of slapping clever names on occupations. “You have people out doing real jobs, real respectable things, and trying to build a living, and you’re calling them by these monikers that don’t really give the jobs they’re doing any justice.”
Shyp waited as long as it did to redo its brand because it wanted to improve its service first. A huge part of that was its decision to move away from using freelance couriers in favor of hiring them on as real staffers. That’s allowed the company to train couriers and otherwise aim for a greater consistency of experience.
“Our couriers will be the ones bringng the app to life,” says Sherman. And they’ll be doing it decked out in Shyp logo gear–short-sleeved shirts, fleece jackets, hats, gloves–and will get a stipend they can spend on the accoutrements of their choice.