Designers and Architects love to talk about negative space, but it is in graphic design that the concept has its most powerful impact. In the graphic design space the biggest win you can have is to design a succesful logo.
Born on this day in 1944 Fred Smith was studying Economics at Yale in 1962 when he had an idea for a college paper. He envisaged an overnight parcel delivery service in a computer age. Legend has it that he got his “usual C” for the paper.
A trained pilot he served 2 tours in vietnam with the USMC not as a pilot but as a ground observer, directing ground operations from the air. The much vaunted “helicopter view” espoused by Red Adair. His strategic vision enabled him to intervene in battle situations and he was commended with medals for his leadership skills. He also credits his time in the US Military with giving him an in-depth understanding of documentation prodedures.
Smith set up an aircraft maintenance business when he left the military, but also founded Federal Express in 1971. Using $4 million of his own inheritance to leverage $91 million in venture capital demonstrates 2 things about entrepreneurship. The first is that if you start with a big inheritance it gives a great start to your good ideas. The second is that going to college with the sons of other millionaires really makes it a lot easier to raise venture capital.
Even with all this finance in place the company almost went bankrupt. When the company was declined a credit line by banks Smith gambled his last $5,000 in Vegas and won enough to pay the Aviation Fuel bills for a week.
The famous Fed Ex logo was designed in 1994 by Lindon Leader working for Landor Associates. The name Federal Express was shortened to FedEx. The concept of movement was suggested by the transition from cool static purple to hot active orange. The genius was the arrow. By designing a proprietary font Leader was able to insert a right facing arrow into the negative space in the E and the X. You may not have noticed it before but once you look at the logo you will see it. And once you have seen it you will never unsee it.