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Subject: Re: FedEx, logos in general, in which I defend myself
From: John Langdon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 12 Nov 1996 21:57:27 -0200

text/plain (112 lines)

Geez. Whew. OK. One at a time............

Dick Weltz wrote:
>What I find most amazing is all the nit-pocking over a logo which is
>attractive, effective, and excellently executed. It is far superior to those
>of FedEx competitors UPS and Airborne. The logo also holds up in a variety of
>size extremes and on many different surfaces, from the flimsy stock of
>shipping labels to the sides of trucks and the tails of aircraft (for a demo,
>see the large exhibit space given to the FedEx logo in the current show at
>the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. It also does a great job in creating instant

I agree with all your assesments of the logo. - JL

Dick goes on to say:
>I have no connection with Federal Express or their design firm -- but, come
>on guys, with so much real crap around, why are you picking on something

Because picking on crap isn't quite as challenging and fun as picking on
the big guys.
With crap, where ya gonna start? The FedEx logo has so much going for it,
as you've noted above, it's surprising that there are a few flaws. The
flaws appear to me to be typographic subtleties, NOT aspects of logo
design, corporate identity and marketing. - JL

and Tim Conroy wrote:
>Geeeeeeeeeezzzzzzz! For three days, already! Because, Peter, the essential
>point (that seems to have been missed by those so far who have taken the bait)
>is that when the letters were put together to form FedEx, they ceased being

Say what? They look a lot like letterforms to me. Use in a logo is
certainly a different role for letterforms than use in text, captions,
subheads, head, titles, etc., and logos have far broader parameters of
what's "right" for a letterform. But the newish FedEx logo does not purport
to have created original letterforms that establish and define new and
separate standards the way some logotypes do. The pieces of the logo
purport to be Futura bold letters. I say they should be held to the same
standard. - JL

and Tim continued:
What is its purpose? Immediate, unforgettable recognition. Is it
>successful? Yes!  What delivery service do you think of first when you want it
>done fast and right? FedEx. Does it work? Yes. Typographic case closed.

No. Logo design case closed. But I agree with every other thing that you
say. - JL

I had written:
>> The client is hardly the appropriate entity to be rendering a critique on
>> the fine points of lettering.

and Pete From F&P Marketing wrote:
>Why not..?

Because I'm talking about critiquing the fine points of letterforms -
typographic letterforms in a logo context. - JL

and, I had continued:
>> A small handful of type experts and lettering artists would be my suggestion.
and Pete From F&P Marketing also wrote:
>Never..! A design or a logotype or anything that is a part of a greater
>marketing plan is NOT to be judged by type experts!

Ummm. Are we to be kept away at a safe distance? Where's the harm? - JL

Pete: >Everyone has a different point of view on what looks good and what

I think that's more true of logo design than type design. I think that
regarding type design, most people are not aware of the 10,000 subtleties
and couldn't care less about them. We who care a great deal about the
10,000 subtleties probably agree on quite a few of them. Granted, not all.

Pete: >A logotype should be tested on "normal" people and not the
>"professors" dealing with it daily... What we judge as excellent
>might mean nothing to the man on the street seeing the
>logotype... And: the client ALWAYS has the final say... And then
>you can say whatever you want... Iīve done things for several
>heavy clients and itīs like a game of chess what you get through
>with and what will be rejected by the board...

I agree. My years of experience designing logos and type for clients in
several weight classes yields the same data. - JL

and TerriGregory wrote:
John Langdon replied. [something haughty and snobbish]

Sorry, Terri. - JL

Terri continued:
>At any rate, I agree mostly with [Pete From F&P Marketing ].
The critique should NOT be part of the
>design process. It's good if it happens afterwards,

I think this is probably the right bottom line. The logo design must please
the client with the ultimate purpose of pleasing the potential customer.
One the logo concept and look has been agreed to between the designer and
client, then a type expert/lettering artist should nitpick the hell out of
it. - JL

Logo design is one thing. Type design is another. Marketing is yet another.
They all overlap greatly these days, probably nowhere more than in a huge
corporation's logotype. But to say that type experts and lettering artists
(isn't that us?) should NEVER have a role in the judgment process seems
incredible. I feel sure that they normally do, and thank goodness.

With all due respect,

John Langdon

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