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Relatively cool on the heels of UPS' purchase of Mail Boxes Etc., Fedex announced yesterday that it will buy Kinko's for $2.4 billion. While FedEx was already the exclusive shipper to about 1,200 Kinko's locations, some analysts speculate that the buy is defensive — UPS bought Mail Boxes Etc. two years ago and currently operates about 4,500 stores.

While most of today's coverage considers the purchase's payoff for buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, which acquired a minority stake in Kinko's in 1997, I think the real story here is one of branding and expansion. I can think of few brands held in such high esteem — and with such obvious parallels. The deal just makes sense. And even though Kinko's planned IPO soured in the late '90s — and the company's retail locations are fewer than the UPS Store chain by two-thirds — plans for more locations are underway.

Seems like a good start to 2004. What do you think of FedEx/Kinko's chances for success in the light of UPS/Mail Boxes etc.? What companies do you resonate with — and work with — the most? Take the Fast Company poll.

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