Originally published on Nashville American Marketing Association’s website 2007
By Becky Bauer
Cindy Hoy, Manager Strategic & Sponsorship Branding, FedEx Global Brand Management, spoke in front of the American Marketing Association in Nashville bestowing some key strategies behind their branding success. Hoy has been with FedEx for 22 years, of which the last 10 years have been involved with managing FedEx brand processes and broad-scale communication efforts.
Covering the evolution of the FedEx brand from how it got started to how it continues to be maintained, Hoy revealed they have employed strategic, rather than tactical, branding. Their branding started around using “Power Applications” which consisted of mediums in which the brand was placed in front of people, such as signage, trucks, uniforms, literature and anywhere else the FedEx name may be seen.
FedEx was founded by Frederick W. Smith in 1973 after he discovered the unmet need for overnight shipping. On its first night of continuous operation, FedEx consisted of 389 employees and 14 Dassault Falcon jets, which delivered 186 packages overnight to 25 U.S. cities. Thus, the modern air and ground express industry was born.
FedEx continued to focus on providing consistency through their power applications, where the look and the message were the same at all touch points. They became easily identified through their signature colors of purple and orange, fanciful uniforms and their “absolutely, positively” promise to their customers.
By 1989, FedEx began to recognize a need for modernizing their brand and to develop a more global identity. In 1994, they hired San Francisco based Landor Associates to head up all branding development and execution. This is also when the Federal Express brand was officially recognized as FedEx.
Endorser Brand Strategy
In 1998, FedEx acquired Caliber System, Inc. which included several different types of transportation companies – small package ground (RPS), less-than-truckload or LTL (Viking Freight), and expedited (Roberts Express). FedEx became a $16 billion network of varied services along with the traditional Federal Express overnight service. These companies were endorsed by FedEx, but able to keep their unique identity and perform within their own network. FedEx then went on take these companies and create a brand architecture or network of brands under the FedEx name: