Thoughts, rants and commentary of a simple man

Subliminal marketing message case study – FedEx

Posted on July 17th, 2008 in Cool Finds,Personal Messages | No Comments »

Subliminal marketing, a term that has taken a lot of flack from those that think that companies are twisting our arms into buying their products by sending mumbled messages and flashed images in radio, print and TV advertisements, is an interesting topic for discussion among marketers, developers and anyone that ever plans to buy something. I am not that big of a marketing guy myself, but there are times when things just catch my eye (and for my wife, no, I am not talking about beer babes and bouncing boobs in bikinis bobbing around the beach).

Take the case of FedEx and their logo. Their identity is essentially wrapped up in this little five letter image:

The FedEx Logo

The FedEx Logo

There really is not a whole lot of fancy smancy action going on there. In fact, an interview with the designer of the logo reveals that it was a big task to design it but ultimately the simplicity of the logo rang loudly with the executive in the deciding chambers of the company. One of the things that sold this logo was the little nugget of an arrow between the “E” and the “x”. Can you see it? If not, here’s a little helper for you:

The arrow leads the way

The arrow leads the way

A while back I remember reading something about this arrow in the FedEx logo. In fact, Rebecca Bollwitt twittered:

I just realized the white space between the E and X in “FedEx” makes an arrow :-\

Within minutes Colleen Coplick replied:

@todmaffin @miss604 the fedex arrow thing is intentional. branding :) have a friend deep in the comms dept in Memphis.

Wanting to look deeper into the discussions that have cropped up about this arrow, I did a Summize (now search.twitter.com) search for fedex arrow and found that there has been significant chatter about this. Subliminal marketing score for FedEx right? Sort of.

As I looked closer at the logo I began to see something that I have not ever seen anyone talk about. Can you see it? The FedEx spoon, strategically placed between the “e” and “d” in Fed (what better a place for a spoon?). If you need help, well, I have a helper for that too.

Not only delivering arrows, but spoonfuls of them, too

Not only delivering arrows, but spoonfuls of them, too

Oddly, a search for FedEx Spoon turned up no results at all. How does this happen? How can such a noticeable symbol of feeding service go missed for this many years? I mean, it is a spoon, inside of Fed. How can anyone miss that. Subliminal marketing score for FedEx? Not quite.

Although every time I see a FedEx logo, whether it is a truck, a billboard, an airplane or whatever, I always look at the arrow and think “FedEx is heading in the right direction”. But I also stop and think “What exactly are they feeding me with this logo?”. Yes, I get my packages overnight. And yes, I can track packages I send easily and quickly.

But to think that FedEx spoon feeds me too. Well, they have secured my business for the rest of my life I think. Or at least until they change their logo again.

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