Branding the Right Way - Rebranding FedEx

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Posted Aug 29, 2011
Susan Gunelius

As a follow-up to my Rebranding Essentials series, I thought it would be a good time to focus on an example of a great rebranding initiative from a well-known company -- FedEx. This is the first post in what will become an ongoing series of Branding the Right Way and Branding Gone Wrong posts that will highlight great branding efforts and those that failed. Each post will provide insight into how the branding was done and why as well as the response from consumers. There is something different to learn in each branding example!
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rebranding the right way

Rebranding can come in many forms with many goals and strategies behind it. Businesses might need to reposition a brand against competitors or change (or refresh) a brand image in consumers’ minds. A rebranding effort could include a new logo, a new tagline, new packaging, or any of a number of brand element changes. On the other hand, a rebranding effort could include none of those but rather just a different way of presenting the brand using new messaging to alter consumer perceptions about it.

FedEx - Name and Logo Rebranding

FedEx is a great example of rebranding the right way. With a shortened name and a new logo, the iconic brand known for speedy delivery of packages became stronger than ever.

In 1994, Federal Express hired Landor Associates to redesign its logo with a fundamental requirement mandated by Federal Express CEO Fred Smith to make sure that the Federal Express truck five blocks away was visible and recognizable when he stood on a street corner. The rebranding result included a new logo and a shortened brand name -- FedEx. Check out the before and after in the image below.

FedEx logo old new

The new FedEx logo wasn’t designed overnight. According to Lindon Leader, the primary designer of the FedEx logo, the company invested in a year of global focus groups and brand strategy research and planning. It was during the research and strategy process that the decision was made to shorten the name to FedEx, which research indicated was a better communicator of speed. Over 200 logo designs later, the new FedEx logo design was born.

fedex logo arrow

One of the most overlooked but brilliant aspects of the FedEx logo is the hidden arrow. While arrows are typically considered an overused design element, it makes sense to include one in the design of a brand whose entire purpose and promise is to move things from one place to another quickly and efficiently. Rather than overtly use the arrow in the logo design, the team used a subtle approach and tweaked the logo’s typography to create the hidden arrow effect highlighted in green in the image to the left. Have you ever noticed that arrow before?

The FedEx logo is considered one of the best by design and branding experts. It’s simple, clean, bold, and flexible. The image to the right shows some of the many ways that the logo can be used to identify FedEx’s varied lines of business with a simple color change that can be applied to create a comprehensive brand architecture and consistent identity.

Today, the FedEx logo is nearly 20 years old, and it’s still just as good as it was in 1994.The FedEx logo can’t be missed on delivery trucks, packaging, signage, and so on. If you see a FedEx truck five blocks away when you’re standing on a street corner, you know it’s a FedEx truck. I’d say Fred Smith’s requirement was met. Wouldn’t you?

Stay tuned for future Branding the Right Way and Branding Gone Wrong posts here on the AYTM blog.

Image: stock.xchng, FedEx

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