FedEx Logo: The Arrow

FedEx Logo by Paul Rand

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.

FedEx Arrow

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Comments

  1. says

    You’re correct Daniel, and I appreciate you pointing out my mistake! I have edited the post. I was under the impression that the logo was Rand’s work for some time so I never thought to question the validity of that crucial piece of information while writing this piece. Sometimes the thing right under your nose is the thing that you miss.

    Thank you for your comment.

  2. says

    I remember when someone pointed out the arrow in the Fed Ex logo to me the first time. It took me a little bit to finally “see” it, but now I see it every time.

    As you said, it might not spark any subconscious ideas to people who don’t “see” it, but it has definitely started some conversations.

  3. Vigorousjammer says

    Hmm, yaknow, I’ve got to wonder if there’s any sort of subliminal message.
    I just remember back when I was a child, way before anybody had told me about the hidden arrow, and before I knew what FedEx did as a company, I always would see a FedEx truck and say “aw yeah, check out that FedEx guy, going super fast” or something to that effect.
    I was a child, so it made even less sense, but I would always view FedEx trucks as being fast, even though they were just doing the speed limit.

    I don’t think there’a anything wrong with this kind of subliminal message, however. It’s not like having subliminal images of popcorn & soda spliced in during movies or something. This just promotes their brand and their identity, instead of subliminally trying to force people into wanting to buy something.

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