27 Hidden Messages in Company Logos
How many of these have you spotted?
1. The FedEx Arrow
The classic! As Matthew May said in The Laws of Subtraction, "Nearly every design school professor and graphic designer with a blog has at some point focused on the FedEx logo to discuss the use of negative space." I recently pointed out the arrow to my five-year-old daughter and blew her mind.
2. The Old Milwaukee Brewers Logo
There's a Facebook group called Best Day of My Life: When I Realized the Brewers Logo Was a Ball and Glove AND the Letters M and B. If for you that day is today, this must be very exciting. Soak it up.
Look! There's a bear in the mountain! There's also something hidden in the candy's name: Toblerone is a portmanteau of its creator’s name, Theodor Tobler, and “torrone,” an Italian word for a type of nougat.
4. Pittsburgh Zoo
It's a tree! And a lion! And a gorilla! And now it's no longer hidden.
The female clothing line owned by Quicksilver takes its parent company’s logo and doubles it to make a heart.
6. Hershey Kisses
Tilt your head to the left to see this one: The brown space between the "K" and the "I" create a sideways Hershey’s kiss.
7. Yoga Australia
The negative space created by the yogi’s leg and arm makes the shape of Australia.
8. Tour de France
The 'R' is a cyclist.
As David Vik says in The Culture Secret, "That's a subtle reminder to employees and customers alike that Amazon has everything from A to Z."
See that "31," for the "31 flavors"? Yeah. In case it comes up, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were brothers-in-law.
Two Ts sharing salsa! The logo has changed slightly, but that element remains.
12. Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten likes adding extras into logos. Notice the '11' in the previous logo on the bottom, back when 11 schools were involved. When Nebraska joined, the subtle 11 had to go. The conference explained exactly what it was doing: "[The logo's] contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral '10' in the word 'BIG,' which allows fans to see 'BIG' and '10' in a single word."
The pharmaceutical company's logo is made up of a capsule and two pills. In a very scientific poll of the two people next to me, 50% were surprised, while the other 50% said that's the only thing that logo could possibly be.
14. Caribou Coffee
The coffee chain refreshed its logo in 2010, and the caribou's body is now made of coffee beans. But that's not the only change. "While the Caribou in the previous logo was leaping left," the company said, "the caribou now leaps right, signifying the direction the company is heading." You probably picked up on that already.
15. Kölner Zoo
At first glance, this logo may seem like just an elephant, but you can see a star, rhino, and giraffe in the white space.
16. The Bronx Zoo
The New York zoo gives a nod to their urban geography: A collection of skyscapers can be seen in the legs of the giraffes.
17. Magic Coffee
This logo doubles as a coffee cup and a magicians top hat. Some might suggest this is more of an illusion than magic.
18. Sony Vaio
Sony wanted a logo that combined analog and digital technology into one, just as their product does. Designer Timothy Hanley achieved this by blending the two together: The first half of the logo (the "V" and "A") represents the analog wave, while the second half ("I" and "O") represents binary—a computing language written in ones and zeros.
19. Northwest Airlines
The airline played with the idea of navigation with this compass-like design. The W has a strategic line in it, creating an N and an arrow pointing northwest.
20. Hope for African Children
This one is similar to the face/candlestick illusion. The shape of Africa is created in the negative space of a child looking up at a woman.
21. Spartan Golf Club
Spartan Gold Club incorporates both elements of their name. The golfer creates the face of a Spartan warrior and his swing becomes the top of the helmet.
22. Montreal Expos
At first glance, this logo looks like an "M" in the colors of the French flag. A lowercase "e" and "b" are tucked into the "M." Officially, the letters stand for Montreal Expos Baseball. A popular theory says that the letters are actually "EJB," the initials of Elizabeth Bronfman, the daughter of a former Expos owner.
23. Arkansas–Pine Bluff Golden Lions
This lion gets its mane from the letters "UAPB," for University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.
24. Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota landscape makes up this logo’s bear shape. A setting sun fills its ear and a running river doubles as the bear’s mouth. Most interestingly, the eye is meant to be the North Star, a potential nod at Minnesota’s previous team, the Minnesota North Stars.
25. Minnesota Twins
The "win" in Twins is optimistically underlined.
26. Quebec Nordiques
The now-defunct Canadian hockey team sported a red "N" next to a hockey stick. Together, the images created an igloo. There is a slim chance nostalgic Nordique fans might see their team re-emerge: Canada might add three more franchises in the next 20 years, and Quebec City meets the minimum requirements.
27. Hartford Whalers
Before the franchise moved to North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes, the Whalers had a clever logo. The negative space between the "W" and the whale tail create an "H," for Hartford.