Twenty years ago today, on June 23, 1994, the American express parcel service Federal Express unveiled its new shortened name and smart logo to much pomp and circumstance. Ahead of the unveiling, the new logo had been painted on an MD-11 jet and flown to the Memphis International Airport to be the centrepiece of the unveiling ceremony. This could be watched by thousands of its employees and spawned lots of news articles. One estimate said the event reached 88 million people.
Federal Express started operations in 1973 after a Yale student realised you could compete with the post office by transporting express packages on jetliners. It grew quickly and eventually "fed-exing" became synonymous with "sending packages fast", allowing Federal Express to join the short list of company names that had become verbs. But as competition grew it needed to differentiate itself to maintain its lead. The namechange was preceded by two years of extensive research both internally and with Landor Associates.
But the end result was remarkably simple. The name was shortened to the already established shorthand. The logo was a rendition of the name in simple letters with the now famous hidden arrow. For plane liveries they opted for white fuselages instead of the purple that had dominated up until then. Landor also came up with the tagline "The World On Time" which reinforced a worldwide reach and focus on punctuality.