The FedEx logo (designed by Lindon Leader at Landor Associates) is famous for the arrow cleverly embedded in the negative space of the design. Can you see it?
Personally, I never noticed it until I was told about it. Even then, I looked for it on the side of a passing FedEx truck, still didn’t see it, and forgot about it. One day it clicked in my mind and I saw it. It’s almost and optical illusion. We’re not used to looking for shapes in the negative space: at first glance, this logo appears to be only text. And it is.
I recently wrote about subconscious meaning versus conscious meaning in logo design. So my question is this: does the FedEx logo have some sort of subliminal or subconscious impact on viewers who haven’t explicitly noticed the arrow?
Personally, I believe the answer is no. This logo carries with it all sorts of qualities expressed in color and the bold, unique shapes of the letterforms. But I do not think the arrow had any impact on my mind until the day that I visibly saw it.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – quite the opposite. The FedEx arrow functions as a clever visual secret. It’s a fun element that has probably been the subject of casual conversation among FedEx employees and customers for decades. We’re discussing it now, aren’t we? It’s a distinctive logo with a lot of personality.
You may disagree and say that this logo plants an unseen, subliminal arrow in the mind of unsuspecting viewers, implying forward motion or progress. Logo design is subjective and open to interpretation. That is perhaps the art form’s greatest power and deepest beauty.