FedEx / Archer>Malmo

Nothing is more important in any business than its brand. And branding is very serious business. But what’s even harder than branding, is RE-branding.

Building a brand from scratch is very hard. Not for quitters. But at least you’re trying to reach open minds. As in, Now there’s a place to buy tacos, and it’s called Taco Bell. But if you add hamburgers and re-brand as, say, Taco & Burger Bell, people probably will never quit saying Taco Bell.

Ed Uthman - Houston, TX - Creative Commons Attribution / Wikipedia / Memphis International Airport

This week on the Behind the Headlines Radio Roundtable, the future of the Memphis International Airport, including discussion on being a hub, Delta, Southwest, FedEx, and the the concept of Memphis as "America's Aerotropolis.”


FedEx announced plans to increase profits by $1.7 billion a year at a two-day meeting for investors this week. Most of that increase will come from cuts to the company’s oldest and largest division—FedEx Express.


FedEx Founder Fred Smith will cut costs at his flagship Express division. Smith made his announcement at a dinner at the Hilton Memphis where investors ate barbeque and banana pudding, then Smith stood up and told them his goal is to increase profits by $1.7 billion a year.

Smith will offer thousands of Express employees voluntary buyouts, close facilities, and increase automation.

“We are revamping the FedEx Express cost-structure through a combination of cost-reductions, efficiency improvements, and service repositioning,” Smith said.


FedEx Founder Fred Smith is expected to announce cutbacks to his flagship Express division at a dinner for investors tonight.


Income at Memphis-based shipping giant FedEx is down $5 million, about 1 percent less than last year. The first quarter of FedEx’s fiscal year ended August 31. The company announced earnings for that quarter during a phone call this morning and lowered its projections for the rest of the year.

To explain this, FedEx founder Fred Smith pointed to the FedEx Express division. Income at FedEx Express fell 28 percent.

Memphis-based shipping-giant FedEx is considered to be a bellwether of the global economy because it ships a cornucopia of goods all around the world. The voluntary buyouts for some FedEx Express employees are part of  larger cost-cutting efforts at the company.

In a story that is now legendary, FedEx founder Fred Smith argued for the need for reliable, overnight delivery in a term paper he wrote at Yale. Smith built his company, which raked in $42.7 billion last year, on that idea.

Eleanor Boudreau

At The Mail Center on Madison Avenue, Mark Weber pours foam peanuts into a box of Christmas gifts. Weber is the only one working this Saturday. He’s also the owner. There’s a steady stream of customers, but Weber can handle it. He says years ago the shop was more frenetic.

“At various times we’d ship 400 or 500 boxes a day out of here,” Weber said. “And let me tell you—with six or seven employees running around—and peanuts everywhere—it was nuts! Pandemonium!”


I talk a lot about brand names. Because a great brand name makes everything easier. 

We have great brand names in Memphis.  FedEx, although the company originally didn’t want people saying FedEx, is a great brand. Federal gave the brand credibility in its earliest days.  Auto Zone, though not the original name, is a strong brand. Better, I think, than the original, Auto Shack.  LifeBlood’s a classic. 

A great brand name you’ve probably never given a thought about is WKNO. Think about it.  Public broadcasting in America has been a fact since the early Twentieth Century.