History Of the FedEx Logo Design – Meaning & Evolution
Established under the chairmanship of Frederick W. Smith, back in 1971, FedEx has now become the industry leader globally for its unmatched transformation and delivery services.
With a network stretching over to 220 countries, the company handles more than 90% of the world’s gross domestic products, delivering them within one to three business days.
FedEx has created unparalleled standards of quality and professionalism. With unmatched transportation facilities to having cutting-edge technological resources, the company manages a steady clientele.
Moreover, with a devotion to delivering safe, reliable and hassle-free services to customers, FedEx has skyrocketed its revenue generation.
In the year 2018, FedEx had generated US$65.450 billion.
However, the company withholds its core values and principles and keeps everything transparent.
With a promise to make every FedEx experience outstanding, FedEx has infused shades of its devotion in its marketing campaigns and branding assets as well.
From their emotionally triggering promotional ads created by leading experts and many Video Animation Inc to thought-provoking logo designs that are engulfed into meaningful concepts, the branding campaigns speak about their superior quality assurance.
So, let’s step into the journey of the FedEx logo design and see how the company transformed itself over time.
FedEx Logo Design’s Timeline (1971- To Date)
Unlike other promising brands, throughout the journey of FedEx, there have been only two logo designs – one that was created in 1971 and the other one in 1994.
Both of the logos had a hidden story and concept that helped gain much online visibility and the viewer’s attention.
However, the FedEx logo that was created in 1994 is still the number one logo design of the company and has managed to stay at the top for more than two decades.
Federal Express Logo Design – 1971
Federal Express was the name of FedEx’s first logo design.
It was a simple design with three prominent colour shades – blue, red, and white.
These three colours formed their initial brand identity.
The reason for keeping the name “Federal Express” was to show association with both the US government and civilian population.
The company hired employees belonging to both the sectors that created ample employment opportunities as it progressed.
The core concept behind the design was to exhibit a professional outlook with colours of dedication and professionalism.
According to the colour ideology, the colour red depicts strength, while blue is used to highlight professionalism.
However, purple replaced the blue shade to highlight the luxurious and grand outlook of the company.
So, the company blended both the two shades with a third colour, white, to balance the hierarchy and introduced its first-ever logo design.
FedEx Logo (1994 – To Date)
Lindon Leader, in 1994 designed the iconic FedEx logo.
Lindon is credited for more than 30% of the prestigious designs made globally.
He has worked for leading brands and companies that include Disney, Addison, and Motorola.
His logo design works include Hawaiian Airlines, Novariant, ALSCO, and many others.
However, one of his most famous creations is the great FedEx logo.
The FedEx logo, being the masterpiece has earned over 40 design awards globally and was ranked among the top eight best logo designs in the last 35 years.
As the new logo design came up, the name Federal Express was officially shrunk to “FedEx” creating a more subtle and sophisticated identity of the brand.
The Design Aspects of FedEx Logo
In the new design, Lincoln retained the former brand colour – purple and added orange instead of red along with keeping the white background to enhance the element of simplicity.
When asked about his experience in designing the great FedEx logo, Lindon stated:
“I’ve always said it takes a great client to make a great project. Frederick Smith, the CEO, allowed us to do our job, and said to me, ‘Lindon, if you feel that our trucks need to be pink and green, just give me a good reason.’ In other words, he was trusting us.”
The Key Elements Of The Design
Considering the growing progress and reach of the company, the new design was based on a few attributes, including speed, precision, service, and reliability.
About which Lindon stated,
“They’re the kind of attributes that you just don’t develop overnight – no pun intended, given their original tagline.”
Keeping these attributes in mind, the designer created a strategy that has been making progress since then.
The thoughtfulness he incorporated in his design has made FedEx logo a classic example to learn from for many beginners and professional designers.
As per the reports, it took over nine months to research conceptualising the logo.
Through that research, the designer got to know about customers’ perspectives and learned that only a few of them know the capabilities of the company and the scope of Federal Express.
Apart from this, internationally the word “federal” created some negative connotations among the target audience in certain parts of the world – Federal Republic of Germany; Federalists in Latin America.
Due to which the company changed its name to FedEx, making it easy to use.
Previously customers used to address the company by saying, “FedEx a package”, the leaders wanted to change that concept.
So they positioned their brand in a way that it began to be recognised as “FedEx the brand”.
The Story behind “E” and “X”
FedEx is the perfect example of utilising the negative spaces to deliver a strong message.
If you look closely between the letters “E” and “X” of the logo you will find a small arrow sneaking out, directed towards the right.
Lindon personally admired the use of negative spaces and while creating the second version of the official logo he kept almost 40% of the space white and incorporated a hidden arrow.
Though he had to face much criticism by keeping such a massive percentage of space empty, which he addressed saying,
“I cannot tell you how many times I fight with a client who says, ‘I’m paying an enormous amount of money to pay for an ad in a magazine, and you’re telling me you want 60 per cent of it to be empty space?’ On the one hand, I can understand where they’re coming from. But basically, the average client does not have a sophisticated enough appreciation of white space to understand that it can be a strategic marketing tool.”
A vast team was set up to work on creating different versions of the logo.
Over 200 logos were created in which many designers have tried to incorporate the arrow, though making it obvious to appear.
At last, the colour palette and the logo fonts were finalised, the best one was selected.
The most surprising thing was that none of the senior executives of FedEx had noticed the arrow except only a few among those were Fred Smith – the global brand manager.
The selected typeface for FedEx was a mixture of two fonts – Futura Bold and Univers 67.
Back in 1990, these two typefaces were Lindon’s most favourite ones.
He had to invest many efforts in formatting the logo even when the elements were finalised.
He changed the distance between letters and created balanced using upper and lowercase combinations.
Moreover, among the many hurdles he encountered, one of the most stressful obstacles was the negative appearance of the arrow.
He mixed the fonts using Univers 67 to form the “X” and a slight stroke of Futura Bold, and so the final formation surfaced.
The arrow pointing from right to left indicates of the company covering all the products starting from A to X along with that the direction indicates the progress of the company moving in the right direction.
That’s how a small arrow brought a huge difference in how the viewers perceived the logo.
In the several combinations and versions of the logo created by the team, many different shades and palettes were used.
Where some of them used a combination of black with grey, others preferred to add a grey background to the orange and light purple typography.
However, Lindon chose a bright purple shade for the “Fed” part of the logo whereas the “Ex” was designed with bright orange shade along with the word “Express” being written using purple below the “Ex” part.
Why The FedEx Logo Works
The FedEx logo worked so successfully due to the design strategies that backed both of the designs.
The first logo with the name “Federal Express” propelled the governments making the company gain visibility and recognition.
Whereas the second version of the logo with the captivating brand messages hidden in its design helped the brand, achieve international accreditation.
Thus, the company gains prosperity far across the globe, making more than triple folds on its investments.
FedEx is by far the most significant brand that has been an example for startups to follow and how to design a branding campaign.