Monday, August 23, 2004

Fedex Kinko’s?

I find the rebranding of Kinko’s to Fedex Kinko’s a bit curious. The first question in any re-branding effort has to be, “why?” In this case, the answer seems to be a conformity to the Fedex naming architecture more than any sort of real value that emerges.

Fedex and Kinko’s have each become generic to their category ( a la Kleenex or Xerox). By combining the two, Fedex has some work to do in re-education – hence the major ad campaign currently underway. But strongly help popular opinion is a very difficult (and expensive) tide for any brand to swim against.

The Fedex naming architecture is a straightforward Masterbrand GenericServiceDescriptor (Fedex Ground; Fedex Custom Critical; Fedex Supply Chain Services…). Perhaps, as noted above, Kinko’s has taken on some characteristics of a generic – but this remains a strong, viable brand in its own right. By subjugating Kinko’s, Fedex is actually diluting the equity in the Kinko’s name – and maybe that’s part of the plan.

Squeezing this acquired brand into the existing architecture is an awkward solution. The Kinko’s brand has its own baggage and personality – some of which seems incongruous to its new Masterbrand. For one, Kinko’s is much more consumer friendly than Fedex, and the new corporate dressings with its push towards SMB customers is a definite departure from the Kinko’s roots.

The question remains, why is this good for either Fedex or Kinko’s? For Fedex, the acquisition creates retail outlets with an expanded range of services and revenue streams. For Kinko’s, it created a major payday for what was a privately held company – and it offers a significant opportunity for growth. But all of this is true without the rebranding.

Fedex could have done better by associating the two brands, but keeping the Kinko’s name more independent. Kinko’s, powered by Fedex, may have been an interesting solution. They could have achieved the same goals while preserving the equity in Kinko’s name and expanding the customer associations with Fedex. Similar results could have been achieved with a Fedex campaign that highlighted the new expanded retail presence.

As it stands, Fedex has a long and expensive road ahead in its re-education campaign and in creating all the new advertising, collateral, signage and retail upgrades that go with it. Further, by devaluing and/or repositioning the Kinko’s brand, Fedex may be creating an opportunity for a new player that is more attuned to the needs and demands of a consumer and SOHO market.


Blogger Jonathan said...

It would have been a good idea to use some (or all) of the customer service experience at Fedex and try to push it through to Kinkos... Kinkos is so much less friendly a place and the workers are ofter a tad rough around the edges...

For naming they could have just left it all the same and just included more pronounced package services within Kinkos. Each company has it's specialty and there's no reason not to leave it so... though I suppose they wanted to counter the UPS Store / Mailboxes deal.

August 23, 2004 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinko's success has been built on convenience and availability. FedEx is all about service and reliability - two traits that Kinko's can often be lacking. Putting these two brands together may prove to be like mixing oil and water.

August 24, 2004 at 11:26 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were you, I would stay away from any and all Fedex Kinko's. This is comming from a person who used to work for the company. FedEx Kinko's current polices are slash and reports. They don't care doodly about the customer. The current goal is "Operational Excellence," which is a direct contradiction to the parent company's "Purple Promise" directive (make every FedEx experience outstanding). Management is subject to a barrage of reports, and "effieciency" is over emphasized to the point that too few employees are forced to do more and more with less time allowed to do a quality job and give even acceptable customer service. In the name of effieciency, the current regime, led by Harvard flunkie Gary Kusin, continues to promote substandard systems like "Express Pay" (dumped on the stores to capture revenue, yet costs the stores more in equipment and irritated customers, and the latest fiasco, "Order To Pay," a computer based order taking systems that is, at the very least, cumbersome and unstable. OTP, as the acronym-happy FedEx Kinko's calls the system, was rushed into the stores even after beta tests showed the system to be totally flawed. Looks like somebody took a payoff somewhere, eh Gary? And the Dallas based corporation continues to hand down poor machinery, continues to slash the payroll, continues to rely on consultants who have no idea what great customer service is all about and openly wonders why sales are going down. Hmmmm.

To give you an example of how responsive the company is to "the field" (what they call the store fronts), when the new Order To Pay system was rolled out, employees were told to tell customers with Kinko's accounts to make sure that they had FedEx Kinko's credit cards because OTP wouldn't allow for people to charge without a card. Then the corporate office branch that handles accounts payables decided to temporary close, ensuring more hassles and customer inconveniences. Operational excellence?

Yes friend, if you have any inkling of visiting a FedEx Kinko's, I urge you to run, not walk away. You will be given the treat of waiting in line to place your order, the employee who finally waits on you won't be able to because he or she has to leave so they won't get fired for working overtime, and he's probably has three or four people waiting at the FedEx counter anyway. (I did forget to mention that when FedEx bought Kinko's, and gave Gary Kusin lots of FedEx stock for his troubles, full serve FedEx counters were put into the store. Yet interestingly enough, no extra people were hired to run these counters, more lines, less customer service and more profits for Gary's Dallas villa and country club fees.

Gary and his Harvard gang simply don't care. I somebody wish film maker Michael Moore would do an expose on Kusin and what he did to ruin a terrific, family-friendly company.

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As a frustrated avid user of FedexKinkos! It was bad before every time I would go into a Kinkos at leat 20% of their machines were down. Now not only are their machines down but their staff is not supported in the very least! One of the guys was tryin gto work on a resume job and he had to call his wife beacus eshe knew more about he program than he did. When asked if fedexKinkos trains them he said that through online programs. They work themselves to death all day then they are suppose to have time to do homework. So not only does thsi company not care about the customer but they certainly do not care about their employee either. It is shamefull to have such a company have too much of the market share! I am definitely not using fedex any more and am working on alternatives to Kinkos. The Fedex Kinkos experience is a miserable one from teh time you walk into the door and by the time you leave you want to kill someone !

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with you when it comes to the newly purchase of Kinko's from FedEx. The was a huge step for the company! Kinko's has thousands of locations located all around the U.S. For those of you who go to Kinko's, you will see that customers are now able to pick up and drop off their packages at these locations.

As far as the FedEx Kinko's names goes - If FedEx spend millions of dollars purchasing the company, why wouldn't they combine the names? FedEx is one of the most recognized brand names in the U.S. and Kinko's is not far behind. Clearly this will bring in additional revenue to both sides of the company.

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The main problem with the joining of FedEx and FedExKinkos is that Kinkos Upper Management, has absolutely no training in people skills. They have no clue that the purple promise also means treating employees with dignity and respect. FedEx managers, assistant mgrs and employees have been well trained in the customer service venue. They carry it with them wherever they go. Its like a torch.

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