When Express Means Less

The word ‘express’ come from the Latin expressus meaningsqueezed out’ (from exprimere to force out, and premere to press), as juice is expressed from an orange. 

Reference back to this definition will help to manage one’s expectations when encountering something named ‘express’ these days. In branding terms, express means something has been literally squeezed out of the deal.


The new IHOP Express in San Diego certainly looks different. There are no waitresses in sight for a start. You buy your meal at the counter and pour your own refills. The whole concept is designed to have you out the door in about half the time of a conventional IHOP. No tip required. What has been ‘expressed’ here is service.

If you’ve ever flown on a United Express aircraft you’ll be familiar with the routine of checking in your case before you board, enduring a noisy, bumpy flight in a cramped seat and then waiting for your case on the jet bridge as you anxiously check your watch for your connection time. What has been ‘expressed’ here is any vestige of comfort in the ‘friendly skies’.

As you race across the airport from your United Express flight to catch your connection you might have noticed the blue Best Buy Express vending machines.  What has been ‘expressed’ here is choice.

Holiday Inn started the whole ‘express’ concept in the early 1990s. As an “express” hotel, the focus of Holiday Inn Express is on limited services and standard amenities for business travelers and short-term stays. What has been ‘expressed’ here is any sense of the Holiday Inn brand (it had ‘holiday’ in it’s name for a reason).

Which is not to say these services don’t have any redeeming virtues. For the road warrior on a budget who wants to avoid any human interaction at all life could be lived quite happily, if somewhat bleakly, in an Express World.

For the rest of us it just helps to understand that ‘express’ in a name does not necessarily mean quicker or cheaper or more convenient. Just less.

4 thoughts on “When Express Means Less

  1. Alan,

    A great observation by you…thanks for the reminder about the word “express”. What has been all too obvious to me in recent years, is the not at all subtle attempts by our government to “express out” honesty, integrity, common sense, transparency, freedom etc, etc. from the citizens of this country. Regardless of our political stripe…we are being screwed in every which way but loose. Like the frog in a pot of rapidly heated water on the stove, the low information electorate remains blissfully unaware.

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