I’m In Logo Love: FedEx Logo Design Ross | July 6th, 2010

“I’m In Logo Love” is a new series on the crowdSPRING blog. Periodically, we’ll pick a logo we’d like to take home from a bar and tell you why. And if you think it’s a bit strange to have a crush on a cleverly designed logo, get in line – my mom has already lectured me on this topic. Today’s post was guest written by Marc Köhlbrugge. Marc started out as a freelance designer (some of you might recall that Marc won crowdSPRING’s inaugural web design project). Since 2009, Marc has co-founded two internet start-ups - PressDoc and *openmargin. Today, we’ll look at the logo for FedEx.

FedEx is a company operating all over the world, but if by any chance you haven’t heard about them before, here’s the quick run-down from Wikipedia: “FedEx is a logistics services company, based in the US.” Simply said, they make it possible for both businesses and individuals to easily ship packages around the world.

BACKGROUND ON THE NAME ‘FEDEX':

When the company began operations in 1973 they were initially named Federal Express. However, after a while Federal Express outgrew its name and headed towards a more global approach. Therefore, in 1994 they decided to rebrand the company to ‘FedEx’ (an already commonly used nickname) along with a new logo shown above, designed by Lindon Leader.

WHY I THINK THE FEDEX LOGO DESIGN IS HOT:

I always prefer logos that communicate the essence of the brand, have a unique and thus recognizable look, intrigue the mind and clearly show the name of the company. The FedEx logo achieves all of this and remains very simple.

The overall concept of the logo is very basic, the name of the brand in bold letters and a unique combination of colors. I won’t say it’s the most elegant typeface I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely bold and very recognizable.

To give the logo an extra edge Leader decided to make one minor tweak to the letters which has resulted in one of the most discussed logos out there. If you didn’t see it already: the negative space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’ forms an arrow symbolizing movement and precision. Which are of course two very important values for a logistics company such as FedEx.

Of course, not everybody will catch this detail immediately, but as soon as you do, you can’t help but notice it every-time you see the logo. Even better, when I’m among other people and the logo comes across there’s a big chance we’ll actually start talking about the logo because it’s such a clever design and it’s great to share the ‘hidden detail’ with others. I can imagine other people feel the same, so it’s not just a nice looking logo, it’s also a great word-of-mouth marketing tool.

If you want to learn more about the designer and the logo, I recommend reading this interview,  but first let us know what you think about this design by leaving a comment below!

Sources:

– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FedEx
– http://www.corporatebrandmatrix.com/cases.asp?ca_id=51&case=Federal%20Express%201994
– http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000273.php

What do you think? Do you agree this is a clever design? Can you think of any ways to improve the design?

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  • Jesse

    I really like the FedEx logo, its so simple yet it acomplishes so much. Part of what I like about its simplicity is that it works on everything, from a business card to a airplane tail fin. It’s so flexible that the life span of the logo will last for years to come.

  • Jesse

    I really like the FedEx logo, its so simple yet it acomplishes so much. Part of what I like about its simplicity is that it works on everything, from a business card to a airplane tail fin. It’s so flexible that the life span of the logo will last for years to come.

  • Lyndit

    Really like that you pointed out the arrow in the FedEx logo. That is neat and makes me think twice about adding an extra flair to logos I work with. Nice post.

  • Lyndit

    Really like that you pointed out the arrow in the FedEx logo. That is neat and makes me think twice about adding an extra flair to logos I work with. Nice post.

  • Cibi Perez

    I dont get the hoopla around the hidden arrow. I dont think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that an arrow could be made by the coincidental negative space between the 2 letters. I always, always, always look for stuff like this. I think most designers will see that shape there. It isnt very difficult to see that. Another example that is overused ( I have won with it here at cS) is the negative space on the letter U; anytime the word “up” is involved all you have to do is add a little triangle over the top and voila! An instant up arrow appears. Check my portfolio for “Up or Down”… it’s the same concept IMO.

    It is just a coincedence that ‘Ex’ makes an arrow and this happens to be a shipping company. However if the name had been “designed” or thought up of because someone saw the potential for that mark, then it may be a different story. Besides all that, aren’t arrows just really overused? I think they fall somewhere between a swoosh and the infamous pointy circle-of-swoosh-men… yikes..

    My 2 cents.

  • Cibi Perez

    I dont get the hoopla around the hidden arrow. I dont think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that an arrow could be made by the coincidental negative space between the 2 letters. I always, always, always look for stuff like this. I think most designers will see that shape there. It isnt very difficult to see that. Another example that is overused ( I have won with it here at cS) is the negative space on the letter U; anytime the word “up” is involved all you have to do is add a little triangle over the top and voila! An instant up arrow appears. Check my portfolio for “Up or Down”… it’s the same concept IMO.

    It is just a coincedence that ‘Ex’ makes an arrow and this happens to be a shipping company. However if the name had been “designed” or thought up of because someone saw the potential for that mark, then it may be a different story. Besides all that, aren’t arrows just really overused? I think they fall somewhere between a swoosh and the infamous pointy circle-of-swoosh-men… yikes..

    My 2 cents.

  • glamaz0n

    I think this logo is remarkable just BECAUSE the components are nothing special. Just a font (okay maybe subtly altered a bit for balance), and a coincidental negative space. The two six-year-olds in my life picked up on that right away!

    I think far too much is made of customizing fonts, incorporating characters into fonts, creating icons out of font characters, when the font itself is really enough to get the job done. Such font alteration changes for me the entire rhythm of the text and in the end just looks messy at small sizes. I try it all the time and I end up trashing such iterations. I just don’t like it. And it violates the vision of the original font designer besides. I dislike it even when a font character presents an obvious “mini-logo” in itself.

    So IMO the FedEx logo is genius just because of its basic “fontness”.

    glamaz0n

  • glamaz0n

    I think this logo is remarkable just BECAUSE the components are nothing special. Just a font (okay maybe subtly altered a bit for balance), and a coincidental negative space. The two six-year-olds in my life picked up on that right away!

    I think far too much is made of customizing fonts, incorporating characters into fonts, creating icons out of font characters, when the font itself is really enough to get the job done. Such font alteration changes for me the entire rhythm of the text and in the end just looks messy at small sizes. I try it all the time and I end up trashing such iterations. I just don’t like it. And it violates the vision of the original font designer besides. I dislike it even when a font character presents an obvious “mini-logo” in itself.

    So IMO the FedEx logo is genius just because of its basic “fontness”.

    glamaz0n

  • Rodesign

    I am surprised nobody ever mentions the hidden postman carrying an envelope!
    Rod

  • Rodesign

    I am surprised nobody ever mentions the hidden postman carrying an envelope!
    Rod

  • Jeff Quigley

    I’ve had the unique pleasure of actually working with FedEx on various projects. Like it or not, their logo is iconic, simplistic, bold, and instantly recognizable worldwide. Not only have they developed their logo to to reflect their overall brand, but have easily adapted it into their other business units (freight, air, etc.) without diluting the original brand. FedEx remains one of the most brand compliant and image conscious companies I have ever done work with, and they strive for perfection with even the simplest advertising piece.

    We’ve all seen the cS logo projects where everyone needs an associated icon with their name, yadda yadda yadda. This is an example of how simplicity really is better. Bravo.

    Jeff

  • Jeff Quigley

    I’ve had the unique pleasure of actually working with FedEx on various projects. Like it or not, their logo is iconic, simplistic, bold, and instantly recognizable worldwide. Not only have they developed their logo to to reflect their overall brand, but have easily adapted it into their other business units (freight, air, etc.) without diluting the original brand. FedEx remains one of the most brand compliant and image conscious companies I have ever done work with, and they strive for perfection with even the simplest advertising piece.

    We’ve all seen the cS logo projects where everyone needs an associated icon with their name, yadda yadda yadda. This is an example of how simplicity really is better. Bravo.

    Jeff

  • Marc Köhlbrugge

    Cibi Perez:
    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I think you’re right in the sense that the concept of using negative space to form a symbol is commonly used nowadays and in most case it doesn’t add anything.

    However, I think in this case it’s done in a way is subtle enough to make you go ‘ah-haah’ when you see it. That’s what makes it great, not necessarily the fact it combines letters to create a shape.

    I also agree with the fact that the arrow-shape is overused. In the interview you’ll read the designer actually realized this, which was once of the reasons to add the shape as subtle as he did. I agree in most cases an added arrow is just a cliché, but in the case I think it works rather well.

    @glamaz0n
    Agreed. The simplicity is what makes this logo so great.

    @Rodesign
    I actually stated this in my post. All you have to do is read the text backwards and skip every 4th, 6th, and 10th word and you’ll see ;).

    @Jeff
    Nice insights! I totally agree the whole brand compliancy is brilliantly done. Very simple and very effective.

  • Marc Köhlbrugge

    Cibi Perez:
    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I think you’re right in the sense that the concept of using negative space to form a symbol is commonly used nowadays and in most case it doesn’t add anything.

    However, I think in this case it’s done in a way is subtle enough to make you go ‘ah-haah’ when you see it. That’s what makes it great, not necessarily the fact it combines letters to create a shape.

    I also agree with the fact that the arrow-shape is overused. In the interview you’ll read the designer actually realized this, which was once of the reasons to add the shape as subtle as he did. I agree in most cases an added arrow is just a cliché, but in the case I think it works rather well.

    @glamaz0n
    Agreed. The simplicity is what makes this logo so great.

    @Rodesign
    I actually stated this in my post. All you have to do is read the text backwards and skip every 4th, 6th, and 10th word and you’ll see ;).

    @Jeff
    Nice insights! I totally agree the whole brand compliancy is brilliantly done. Very simple and very effective.

  • James

    Hmm, I wonder why you don’t see quality work such as the FedEx logo on crowdspring.

  • James

    Hmm, I wonder why you don’t see quality work such as the FedEx logo on crowdspring.

  • Ann Lowe

    I disagree with James: There are alot of amazing logos produced on cS. With the economy in the crapper, a great deal of top notch designers are on this site doing work to get the chance to make some good money! Just because the FEDEX logo has a hidden arrow makes it some sort of “logo design God”! I don’t think so. It was a clever designer coming up with a clever design just like thousands of other designs out there that are clever. The negative space logo is not unique to FEDEX. There are websites dedicated to “inspiration” filled with this type of clever logo and yes…some of those designs were made by the designers here on cS.

  • Ann Lowe

    I disagree with James: There are alot of amazing logos produced on cS. With the economy in the crapper, a great deal of top notch designers are on this site doing work to get the chance to make some good money! Just because the FEDEX logo has a hidden arrow makes it some sort of “logo design God”! I don’t think so. It was a clever designer coming up with a clever design just like thousands of other designs out there that are clever. The negative space logo is not unique to FEDEX. There are websites dedicated to “inspiration” filled with this type of clever logo and yes…some of those designs were made by the designers here on cS.

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  • http://www.realtimetricks.com RealTimeTricks

    If i get the chance to design these kinda logo i’ll definitely try to give my best service. 

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