World’s Strangest

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The Story Behind the Famous Arrow in the FedEx Logo

In our previous On the Origin
of Success
post about how FedEx
founder gambled his last $5,000 in Las Vegas to stave off bankruptcy
we pointed out that the FedEx logo has the famous hidden arrow (can’t
see it? Lookharder)

But what makes it work? Matthew May explains in his book The
Laws of Subtraction
as excerpted by Fast Company:

A handful of the other designs contained arrows, but none were hidden.
“I thought, ‘Okay, there’s nothing really compelling
about an arrow,’” Lindon remembers. “It’s overused
and rather mundane. But I thought we could build a story around it.”
The arrow could connote forward direction, speed, and precision, and
if it remained hidden, there might be an element of surprise, that aha
moment. “I didn’t overplay it, didn’t mention it.
And you know, most of our own designers didn’t see it! But when
I previewed the mark along with a few others with the global brand manager,
she asked, ‘Is there an arrow in there?’ She saw it, and
it was game on!”

I wanted to know more about that aha moment when people got the punch
line. I could hear the smile in his voice: “I remember it like
it was yesterday.” On April 23, 1994, the Landor team presented
their design ideas at FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The
hidden arrow mark was one of five presented to a fairly large group
of senior executives. “We had built prototypes of planes, vans,
and trucks. We would never just show designs on paper unless that was
the only application. You need the context. We presented the whole of
our work with no mention of the hidden arrow. Our goal was to not reveal
it, to see if it got discovered. The global brand manager knew, of course,
but kept the secret. Amazingly, Fred Smith was the only one to see the
arrow right away. It’s probably why it won. Once everyone saw
it, once they got the punch line, they loved it.”

Read the full story over at Fast Company: Link

Post Metadata

October 23rd, 2012

Stranger to the World


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