One of the stories I often share with clients is of a famous-in-marketing-circles campaign that helped place a particular brand in everyone’s mind. Do you remember the phrase, “when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight“? If you said FedEx, you get a gold star.

Why is it important?

That campaign helped turn Federal Express (as it was known then) into a global player in the courier market. They created a very focused campaign around a single product offering–their overnight service–and inundated advertising with it. Suddenly the world was aware of this brand, and businesses evolved their processes around the fact that they could deliver important packages pretty much anywhere in the world overnight. One offering made an upstart courier into a major player.

Of course they had other offerings, and later acquired a number of other companies that helped them expand their suite of services dramatically. But it all comes down to that one thing, and isn’t that how you largely think of FedEx? “Overnight service” persists to this day as the thing that they do.

Why did it work?

Because instead of telling the world, “Hey, look here! We can deliver it overnight, or second day, or freight, or slow boat to China, and look! we do all this other nifty stuff, too,” they concentrated on a single offering that would make a difference to the audience they were trying to reach: enterprise business. Simplicity was the key. One single offering, no other distractions until a potential customer started asking, and then Federal Express could also reveal that they had these other, less expensive shipping methods, and these other nifty things they could do.

FedEx1971Over time, they have evolved their image as well. As Bored Panda points out, their logo changed over time, shortened from Federal Express to FedEx. fedex-logoThis served a number of purposes: it’s easier to say (we like compressed brand names, don’t we?), the design is simple, clean, memorable, and–a very practical consideration–it cost them less to print the new logo on packages and paint it on vans and aircraft. And their very clever designer also managed to sneak a negative-image arrow into the Ex, suggesting forward movement. Do you see it? It’s subtle and kind of brilliant.

Simple is always better.

Whether you’re a mom-and-pop business or a Silicon Valley startup, it pretty much goes without saying that how you position your brand will mean the success or failure of your effort. Simple is always better. As you’re planning your marketing efforts, there are two major things to consider:

  1. Of the things that your company offers, what one thing do you do best?
  2. What do you offer that fills a real need in the market? In other words, what do you think people will buy?

Put those things together and you have your “overnight delivery”.

Keep it simple.

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