lovegrove & repucci design blog
  When Photocopies Absolutely Have To Be Delivered Overnight
Category: Branding
Date:  2005 09 December
Author: Demian Repucci

logo “We’ve got to FedEx this tonight!”
“I FedExed it last night. He should have it by now.”
Fedex. One of the lucky few. Only a handful of brands can claim that their name has fully become ….waitforit… A VERB. If only Ms. Barch, the dowdy yet self-important high school English teacher, had emphasized how much weight the verb carried (or how much money was at stake) in this world, we might have paid attention a little more. For a brand to become a ubiquitous verb in the modern lexicon is to achieve a certain special sort of fabulousness. Verbitude lends an almost ‘immortal’ quality to the brand. Not even Nike can claim verb status. Imagine: ‘Paterno turns to his team and growls “All right you pansies, nike up and get out there”‘. Doesn’t sound quite right. Or “I McDonalds’d my waste line away”. Fitting (or ‘nonfitting’) as it may be, it just doesn’t have the ring to it that’s needed for a brand name to work as a form of speech. Surely Bill Gates grits his teeth every time he hears someone say “Just Google it”.

But not only is FedEx a verb, the logo is a sublime piece of craftsmanship also. Beautiful bold colors. Beautiful bold type. A little hidden ‘bonus’ (yes, bonus). A different ‘Ex’ color to denote the different aspects of the company: ‘Express’ orange, ‘Ground’ green, etc. Just lovely. The logo was created by Lindon Leader of Leader Creative. There’s a very nice interview with Mr. Leader (great name) on The Sneeze which gives a little more insight into the thinking behind the logo.

logo Unfortunately (afraid so), as those of us in relationships know, when two entities that each have a strong personality combine to form one entity, some of that personality may get ‘lost in translation’. What we are referring to here is the recent merger of FedEx with the Kinko’s brand. You know Kinko’s. The ubiquitous copy place an empty beer can’s throw from any college campus that you love to hate and hate to love. A tiny slice of hell on Earth but we need it, love it, gotta have it. Seen at right, the new logo combines the two names, changes a few colors and adds… a glyph. A glyph? What the heck is that thing for?
First, the colors. The old Kinko’s blue… O.K. we get that its now moved into residence in the ‘Ex’ of FedEx. But why did the beautiful ‘Fed’ purple change? Is the glyph supposed to be the key to this? The Kinko’s blue combined with the ‘Express’ orange and ‘Ground’ green to form the new purple. Survey says: bummer. The old purple was much better. Why did it have to change? And the old Kinko’s logo has been sucked dry and left to dangle off the end. Gone is its custom font with the squished ‘o’s and its bold stroke and its silly red dots (they worked). It seems that the sum of the two wholes equals something a bit less.

logoLet’s look at window and awning treatments of two FedExKinko’s (old Kinko’s joints) stores in Manhattan (shown at left). The ‘Fed’ in both is a disappointing white. The ‘Kinko’s’ is a thicker font than the actual logo. And the background purple…!?! Both different. And neither satisfying. But there’s that new glyph.




What is apparent here is that two strong brands have combined themselves into a diluted new form. We are sorry if this upsets whoever came up with this new brand identity but these words are offered to help, not hurt. Quick! Before the public notices! Come up with a new logo! One that builds on the strengths of each old mark, forming something new and stronger. We just hate to see something as wonderful as the FedEx logo loose its way in the cut-throat world of brands. And don’t forget the ‘verb’ factor! FedEx must remain a verb. All can agree that it’s a bit clunkier to say “Can you FedExKinko this to the LA office for me?”.

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