Yes, I am pretty sure Paul Rand is still considered the best graphic designer of all times. I am also influenced by Saul Bass very much. He did a lot of the posters and logos for Hitchcock movies as well as some other important ones like West Side Story. The new UPS logo makes me sad, but they have a very good reason for creating it. The company is no longer a packing and shipping company, they do all kinds of business services. If the company makes drastic changes, the logo should follow suit as well, even when it's as timeless as the original. I think the new font is a disaster compared to the old one, though. It's a beautiful font in itself, but I don't think it will stand the test of time like Paul Rand's design has.
brian, i think your absolutely wrong about the honda logo. your saying that it's a bland company so it deserves a bland logo, and therefore their bland logo is perfect? i'm sure they spent a lot of time designing it, but it doesn't matter if a song takes 5 minutes or 5 months to compose. if it's good it's good. the same applies to design. i think design schools nowadays are going overboard on the oversimplified less-is-more aesthetic. if the porsche logo were designed today, design students would dismiss it as being 'over stylized', 'too many lines', etc...
I'm in design school right now and I can tell you that it's not going overboard. It's the same as it has always been - less-is-more has always been the general aesthetic with corporate logos. Most people don't understand it because they think pretty = better, but since logo marks tend to work at a more subconscious level, you may not be directly aware of its influence. The first and foremost goal of graphic design is to solve a problem and communicate a message. Now I never did say that the Honda H logo is bland. I said it was simple, affective, to the point, and no bullshit. Spending time on it shows that it's not easy to make - that's all I was saying by that. Sure, every once in awhile you hit it on your first try with your first sketch - however you'd be a fool to stop there, since most of the time you'll be sketching 50+ ideas out and you'll find one that you like better. To fit it to your analogy - making a quick flyer for some one is like writing a pop song that took you a couple minutes to think of a catchy tune and apply basic guitar and drums. Making a corporate identity for a company is like making the entire soundtrack to a movie. A lot of people are involved, a lot of ideas are involved and it takes a lot of time and money to settle on what everyone decides is the best. Funny you bring up the Porsche logo, because its very impractical to use [the crest] as a logo. Quite simply, if it cannot be displayed in black and white with no greys in between, it's not a good logo. Period. However, the Porsche "PORSCHE" logotype by itself is excellent for the company. If the Porsche logo were designed today, already knowing what Porsche cars are like, I dont think the crest would exist, at least in the form it does now. There is plenty of room in the world of design for fancy, stylized logos with beautiful illustration, etc. but they're better reserved for things like downtown coffee shops and fancy restaurants, wine bottles, and such. If you saw some of the stuff that we've been working on in my design department, you wouldnt think that anyone is subscribing to the "less is more" aesthetic. In fact, the opposite is usually true because all of the design students are trying to cram in as much detail as they can to every design so that when the portfolio review comes around it looks pretty.