From Instruction to Inspiration

Evolving the FedEx brand style & resources

What was the situation?

FedEx has relied on Oden to create their master brand style guide from its first iterations. Over the years, what began as basic parameters for using the FedEx brand had evolved into a substantial, heavily prescriptive document. Looking to move from traditional, instructional brand guidelines to a more inspirational, visual, less-is-more format, FedEx gave us the opportunity to reimagine their style guide. And not just the guide, but the platforms on which it was presented, and even the style itself.

From challenging every established rule to exploring imaginative ways to bring brand principles to life and engage creators, we looked at everything with a fresh set of eyes and one goal in mind: evolving the FedEx brand.

How did Oden help?

FedEx is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world, so evolving its style was just that—an evolution, not a reinvention. As we explored a new approach, protecting the brand equity built over the years was key. Collaborating with FedEx Global Brand Management, we first considered what was truly essential to create the brand’s iconic look. From there, we explored guidance around newly defined personality traits and storytelling principles, as well as writing and design tactics.

As we eliminated some rules and simplified others, we pressure-tested the changes, developing sample creative and use-case scenarios that pushed the boundaries of the streamlined approach. This allowed the Global Brand Management team to consider the potential impact of changes before we moved into development.

Taking the guide online

To meet the needs of a wide range of users, from internal creators to agency partners, we created the guide in two formats: an interactive PDF and a streamlined digital version as a proof of concept. To ensure the digital version offered a unique and valuable user experience, we conducted extensive benchmarking and user interviews prior to development. This resulted in an end product that was layered and easy to digest—a plus for experienced users who just want the facts—while also offering animated gifs and videos to educate novice users.

The interactive PDF format is a departure from its predecessor in almost every way. Not only is it shorter by half, content is less dense, with many pages featuring rich, full-bleed images and inspiring creative examples that bring the FedEx story to life. Examples with captions illustrate principles so users can see them in action rather than reading lengthy explanations.

Both the digital and the interactive PDF show how the brand has evolved—not only in its style, but in the way Global Brand Management guides users. The GBM team believes that this less-is-more approach, though less prescriptive, offers more appealing and easier-to-understand guidance, and it’s helping them reach one of their primary goals—more on-brand creative.

What were the results?

Both versions of the guide launched to rave reviews by users and internal stakeholders. Because the digital proof of concept continues to generate traffic and positive feedback, we’ll be moving forward with additional sections.