In the April edition of Creative Review the editorial staff voted for their top 20 logos of all time. As they said in their introduction to the feature, it was a case of lighting the blue touchpaper and standing well back.
It was an interesting selection. The Woolmark, designed by Francesco Saroglia in 1964 came in at Number 1. I remember as a schoolboy with an interest in design, marveling at its beautiful complexity.
Many of the usual suspects appeared in the Top 20. Coming in at Number 20 was the FedEx logo, designed by Landor in 1994. CR said: “It might appear simple, boring even, to the casual observer. But once you have the forward-facing arrow created by the negative space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’, it is impossible not to think ‘that’s clever’.
Now I usually get ideas quickly, but like any 'casual observer' I failed to see the arrow. I only noticed it for the first time when it was mentioned in the CR article.
It is clever and once you see it, it sticks, but it's also very very subtle and if you don't, you never will, unless someone points it out to you. I took a quick poll and asked a bunch of friends (not designers – ‘casual observers’ – read customers) if they could spot the arrow. No-one could!
It may spoil the purity of the idea, but if FedEx want there customers to see the ‘point’, then maybe the arrow should be less subtle.