♪ In touch with the ground UPS
I’m on the hunt down I’m after you FedEx
Smell like I sound I’m lost in a crowd
And I’m hungry like the wolf ♪

Duran ‘Melody’ Duran

I have been hungry like the wolf waiting for the right time to parody that song! My last design assignment was A Wolf In Sheeps Clothing, which tasked designers to:

“Imagine your favorite company whether it be food, clothing, or any other company. Now imagine their enemy or competitor in the business. Your goal for this assignment is to take your favorite company’s trademark image or logo and reinterpret it in a way that reflects the design of its enemy. Look for the elements that make the competitor’s logo what it is. What is the color scheme? Is there any metaphors or hidden meanings? What is the form of the logo? How can you use its balance, proportion, or rhythm? The important thing is to still have the original company’s message and essence within the new design, but masked by the competitor’s look.”

For this design challenge, I decided to use my favorite logo example, FedEx! Why FedEx? Because whomever design the FedEx logo thought carefully about the message that they wanted to convey.


Color scheme:

The FedEx color scheme is Purple and Orange. But why those colors? As it turns out, our brains tend to associate certain feelings with certain colors, and designers know this. The purple is a soothing color that conveys sophistication and high quality products. The contrasting orange is an energetic color. These colors together mean: we’re going to get this package to you fast, but we aren’t going to compromise on quality. (Fun Fact: the orange in “Ex” used to designate ‘express,’ while a red “Ex” designated ‘freight.’ The colors were a way of separating individual businesses within the company. But the Purple/Orange combo has become so widely recognized, that the company decided to use it for all FedEx sectors).

Form and Hidden Meanings:

The other great thing about the FedEx logo is in the way that it uses negative space to convey hidden meaning. Take another look at “Ex,” but look at the white space instead. It’s an arrow! Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. The logo designer for FedEx came up with a way to convey expediency by using the letters ‘E’ and ‘X’ to form an arrow. Taken a step further, you can even see that the ‘d’ creates a dot of white space, which makes it look like the arrow is going from point A to some point B really quickly. Our eyes naturally flow from left to right when viewing this logo, and our brains unconsciously think, “hey, that FedEx is pretty fast! I’ll use them to send my package.”

So what about FedEx’s arch-nemesis, UPS?


Color scheme:

The UPS color scheme is brown and a dark yellow. Where FedEx wanted customers to think of speedy, high quality products, UPS wanted customers to associate their company with reliability, security, and confidence. UPS developed the phrase, “What can brown do for you?” as a play on their brown logo. Seeing that sturdy brown color gives customers a sense of dependability. When we see this logo, we unconsciously think, “hey, that UPS is pretty reliable! I can feel safe knowing that my package will arrive at it’s destination.”

Form and Hidden Meaning:

The UPS logo is actually a shield if you look closely at it (or not closely, the shape is pretty shield-like). But, what you probably didn’t know was that UPS has had 4 iterations of it’s logo throughout the years! (Fun Fact). The first version of the logo was designed in 1916 and was of an eagle carrying a package across a bronze shield with the words, “Swift, safe and sure” as their slogan. In the second version (1937) the eagle was scrapped (aw) and the letters “UPS” were stamped across the shield. The slogan changed to “The Delivery System for Stores of Quality” to reflect their growing customer base. The third logo was designed by the famous Paul Rand in ’61. This version was a simple black and white design of a string-tied package over the shield with the letters “UPS.” (Extra Fun Fact: Paul Rand was so confident about his design, that when UPS asked if he had other design options, he said, “That’s it”). The latest version is just the 2003 version without a gradient and is the brown shield that we all know and love. This current version reflects the company’s newest slogan (“What can brown do for you”)?

Now to combine the two logos! FedEx is clearly more clever in their design, so I decided to make them the wolf in sheep’s (UPS’s) clothing. I brought the two logos in to Illustrator and did an image trace so that I could delete the “UPS” letters in the UPS logo and the background on the FedEx logo. I placed FedEx on top of the UPS shield and changed the colors to the UPS yellow. I couldn’t make all of FedEx yellow though, since “Ex” had to be separate yet connected to “Fed” for the logo to work and the FedEx orange felt too out of place with the UPS colors. Making it white though fit right in! I had my wolf.

FedEx hiding in UPS clothing:

FedEx really does look like it’s lurking where it doesn’t belong. This assignment plays tricks on your brain. We normally notice color first, so my first instinct is that this is the UPS logo that I’m looking at. We are so conditioned to recognize brands via shape and color that we may not even notice that something is up with UPS! But I see you there, FedEx! Hungry for mail like the corporate wolf.

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