October 26, 2021

Reading time minutes

Delivering the future with Kevin Warren of UPS

Even the wildly successful businesses we know and trust need to reevaluate how they do things every once in a while. Especially a 100-year-old company operating in a digital world.

Hyland logo

Hyland's team

UPS brought Kevin Warren in as CMO to help the shipping giant evolve operations, enter new markets and attract a younger customer base. He shared how he did it on the podcast Business X factors: Rebranding a Century-old Business.

“When I came on board in 2018, we were ranked number 27 as far as global brands in the world. And so, I started from an area of strength,” Warren said.

But he knew, if the company wanted to continue its winning streak, it needed to change. “We did all these interviews with these SMB customers and they told us, ‘You guys are quiet. We see you as kind of old and stodgy. We haven’t heard from you. You’re not as relevant to us.’”

Going Beyond Brown

Warren knew that, for UPS to stay relevant with small- and medium-sized businesses — the most profitable segment in the market — the company had to meet them in the digital space. This led to the hugely successful digital access program, which launched just before the global pandemic hit.

“We started that and we invested in the talent to really position us, and then COVID hit,” he said.

There was a massive increase in the adoption rate of ecommerce in 2021 that UPS hadn’t projected to see until 2024.

“So thank goodness we had gotten started,” Warren said.

Warren talks more about the sweet spot between planning for the long-term and being agile enough to react to immediate market shifts. And, after spending 36 years as president of the Commercial Business Group at Xerox Services, he brought some transformative ideas to UPS regarding culture, work environment, inclusivity and the value of investing in marketing.

“If I just focus on the second quarter, then I won’t make the sort of investments to position us for the long term. So it really is a balance.”

—Kevin Warren

Hear about all this and more at Mission.org in Business X factors: Rebranding a Century-old Business.

The Business X factors podcast features top executives and their X factors — the tools, technology and culture that give them a competitive advantage. It is produced by Mission.org and sponsored by Hyland. New episodes drop every Thursday.