Most people associate the FedEx logo with its subtle optical illusion. Look carefully between the letter E and X, and you’ll notice a white arrow, which represents speed, accuracy, persistence in pursuit of goals, and the quest for perfection.
Moreover, each color on the logo has its meaning. Across different variants, the “Ex” section of the logotype changes its colors. It’s a brilliant way for the company to distinguish its various operating units. For instance, orange represents FedEx Express, Red stands for FedEx Freight, and the green represents FedEx Ground.
FedEx Corporation was established as a package delivery business in 1971. Throughout the decades since its founding, it’s grown into a significant logistics brand and trendsetter. One of the major factors behind the company’s remarkable success is its multiple award-winning logo.
Evolution of FedEx Logo
Unlike other major brands, there have just been three logo designs throughout the history of FedEx—the first one was designed in 1973 and was replaced by a transitional one in 1991. Three years later, the current version was created.
FedEx Express Logo—1973
The first design of the FedEx logo was known as Federal Express. It was a basic design with three conspicuous shades of color—red, white, and blue—which formed their first brand identity.
The name “Federal Express” was used to show the link between the civilian population and the U.S. government. As such, the company hired staff from both sectors and created numerous job opportunities as it expanded.
The core idea behind the first logo design was to portray a professional image with colors of professionalism and dedication. The psychology of color states that red represents strength, power, and courage, while blue depicts professionalism. However, the blue shade was replaced by purple to display the grand and luxurious image of the company.
So, FedEx blended the red and purple with white to give the logo some balance, thereby introducing its first logo design.
Between the original design and the distinctive “white arrow” logotype, FedEx went through a transitional period of three years, during which an interim version was used. It combined the aspects of the original and current design.
On the one hand, it already had the shortened name minus the rectangle, making it look like the “white arrow” variant. But the designers used a purple and orange logotype with a rounded font style like the original logo. What’s even more significant is that there wasn’t a white arrow yet.
In 1994, Lindon Leader designed the distinctive FedEx logo of today. Over 30% of the most illustrious designs made worldwide are credited to Lindon.
He’s been in the employ of leading companies and brands, including Motorola, Addison, and Disney. His logo designs include ALSCO, Novariant, Hawaiian Airlines, and numerous others. But the prestigious FedEx logo is one of his best designs.
The iconic FedEx logo has earned more than 40 design awards worldwide and has been named one of the eight best logo creations in the past four decades.
As the current logo design came up, FedEx officially shrunk the term “Federal Express” to “FedEx,” giving the brand a subtler and more sophisticated identity.
The FedEx Logo Design Elements
In the new FedEx logo design of 1994, Lindon retained the previous purple brand color. He added orange rather than red while retaining the white backdrop to highlight the aspect of simplicity.
Lindon said that he had a fantastic experience designing the famous logo. The company’s CEO, Frederick Smith, gave him all the freedom to develop something unique.
Considering the growth and reach of FedEx, the new logo design was centered around a few traits: service, speed, precision, and reliability.
According to Lindon, these are the sort of traits that you don’t achieve overnight. Taking these traits into account, the designer developed a strategy that’s been growing since then. The introspection he incorporated in the logo design has made the FedEx logotype an archetypal example for many beginner and professional designers to learn from.
The FedEx logo reportedly took more than nine months to research and design the logo. Through that research, Lindon got to know the customers’ viewpoints and realized that not many of them knew about the scope and capabilities of Federal Express.
Moreover, the word “federal” evoked some negative connotations in some target markets worldwide—for example, the Federalists in Latin America and the Federal Republic of Germany. Consequently, the company altered its name to the easy-to-use FedEx.
Up to that time, customers used to say “FedEx a package” to address the company. But the management wanted to alter that concept. As such, they put their brand on the path to being known as the FedEx brand.
What’s the Story Behind the “E” and “X” in FedEx?
The FedEx logo is a wordwide classic example of delivering a strong message with the negative spaces. If you look carefully between the “E” and “X” in the FedEx logotype, you’ll notice a small arrow sticking out, pointing to the right.
The designer himself loved using negative spaces. So, while designing the FedEx logo’s current variant, he incorporated a secret arrow and kept nearly 40% of the blank space white.
Although he had to endure severe criticism for keeping such a vast amount of space white, he addressed critics by saying that the average client lacks a good enough appreciation of empty space to know that it could be a tactical marketing tool.
Lindon set up a huge team to work on designing different variants of the logo. More than 200 logos were designed, with many designers trying their hardest to integrate the arrow and failing to make it less obvious.
Finally, once the logo fonts and the color palette were finalized, Lindon selected the best one.
The most surprising fact was that almost all of the senior executives at FedEx failed to spot the arrow except for a few of them, including Frederick Smith, its CEO.
FedEx Logo Color Choice
In the various variants of the FedEx logo designed by the team that Lindon set up, many different palettes and shades were used.
While some of them had a combination of black and grey, others opted to incorporate a grey backdrop to the light purple and orange typography.
But Lindon picked a bright purple tone for the “Fed” section of the logo and designed the “Ex” part with a bright orange tone. Also, he wrote the word “Express” in purple under the “Ex” section.
FedEx Font Style
The FedEx logo uses a combination of two font styles—Univers 67 as well as Futura Bold. Lindon loved a number of typefaces back in the 1980s, and these were his most favorite ones.
Even when the logo elements were finalized, Lindon spared no effort in improving the logo. He adjusted the gap between letters and came up with a perfect balance using uppercase and lowercase combinations.
Furthermore, among the many challenges he faced, one of the most difficult ones was the arrow’s negative appearance. He combined typefaces Univers 67 and Futura Bold to develop the white arrow in the final version.
The arrow pointing towards the right indicates that the company deals with all products beginning from “A” all the way to “X,” and the direction shows that the company is going places.
That’s how a little arrow made a massive difference in how customers perceived the FedEx Logo.
The History of FedEx
Formerly called Federal Express, FedEx is a key stakeholder in the package delivery industry and a major competitor to worldwide leader UPS. Unlike UPS, however, FedEx Corporation has a relatively short backstory as it was founded in 1971 by its current CEO, Frederick Smith.
But 49 years later, FedEx is the world’s largest airline when it comes to flown freight tons and the world’s 4th largest airline when it comes to fleet size. The firm has average sales revenues of $40 billion and employs more than 425,000 people.
FedEx was supposed to be the first airline to launch Airbus A380 Freighter. After a couple of years of delays, however, the company canceled its orders for A380F. Instead, it placed orders for the well-known Boeing 777F.
Federal Express officially started its operations on the 17th of April in 1973 with 389 employees. That very night, 14 small planes left Memphis and sent packages to 25 cities across the United States, including New York, Miami, and Rochester.
It wasn’t until 1975 that FedEx was able to turn a profit. But the company eventually became successful and built its niche in the package delivery market as a fast courier service firm. It soon became the go-to courier service for high priority products and set high standards for fast delivery of goods in the courier service marketplace.
In the mid-1970s, FedEx led the way in lobbying for the deregulation of air cargo. As a result, air cargo deregulation legislation was passed in 1977. These rule changes were significant because they enabled FedEx to use bigger aircraft (McDonnell-Douglas DC-10s and Boeing 727s), and this was the catalyst for its rapid growth.
FedEx became a well-established company in the 1980s. In 1983, the company revenues reportedly reached $1 billion, making FedEx the first-ever American company to achieve that financial milestone within ten years of existence without acquisitions or mergers. This was the beginning of the FedEx success story.
FedEx’s Growth Over the Years
FedEx started to experience real growth when it decided to go global. The company grew tremendously after entering the worldwide market.
After the first of many international acquisitions, FedEx started intercontinental operations in 1984, serving Europe and Asia. A year later, they launched its first scheduled airlift to Europe. Three years later, in 1988, FedEx launched its first direct-scheduled package delivery to Japan.
The firm made another major transition in 1994, adopting “FedEx” as its official name. In 1995, it acquired Evergreen International Airlines and started operations in China.
Following this acquisition, FedEx became the sole United States-based all-cargo service with flying rights to the most populated and fastest-growing country in the world. Its worldwide reach has continuously expanded into an unmatched network today, delivering packages to customers in over 220 nations and territories.
Since the founding of FedEx, the company has continued to diversify its business. It now provides a portfolio of solutions to various problems. It offers a range of services under one company name, including:
With an impressive revenue of more than $4.5 billion in 2008, FedEx Freight is the largest truckload service in the U.S.
FedEx Services provides global information technology (IT), marketing, and planning solutions to other FedEx family companies.
The first overnight courier service, FedEx Express, provides next-day flights within the U.S. and time-specific international service. It runs one of the world’s largest civil aviation fleets and the biggest fleet of Broad-bodied civil aircraft. Moreover, it carries more cargo than any other commercial airline.
FedEx Ground provides guaranteed day-specific delivery within the United States and Canada at a cost-effective price compared to the time-specific Federal Express.
Current FedEx Operations
FedEx started with 14 aircraft and 389 employees, but it now has 600 aircraft and over 425,000 employees. In 2018, FedEx’s revenue was $64.45 billion. The company is expanding, and it has now set its sights on the e-commerce industry.
FedEx continues to evolve in today’s technology-focused world. FedEx is continuously coming up with innovations, and you can bet your last cent that the company promises brighter, better times for its customers.
FedEx is always looking to improve to stay relevant in today’s package delivery marketplace.
Wrapping Up the FedEx History
From humble origins, FedEx has truly revolutionized the way of doing business. Not so long ago, even the largest firms couldn’t afford overnight shipping. But thanks to FedEx, it’s now available to even the most basic home-based startup.
With average yearly revenues of $40 billion, 600 planes, 70,000 surface vehicles, and over 425,00 employees, FedEx handles almost 6 million shipments daily in over 200 countries and territories. The FedEx Logo has become a world-famous brand and has been recognized as one of the 10 Most Admired Companies in the United States by Fortune Magazine.