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Smart Logos with Hidden Symbolism

Branding, Inspiration, Resources | Jul 9, 2010

Logos can convey many ideas in one simple design and as designers we need to be fully aware of any hidden symbolism.

You should be in full control of your design and use symbolism to convey messages to your advantage as this will further the impact of your logo.

For this post, we’ve compiled some great logos that carry hidden symbolism that you can use for inspiration in your own designs.

Try to figure what the hidden messages are before reading the explanations. Have the designers manage to convey the right messages for these logos? Please let us know in the comments’ area.

 

Amazon.com

The arrow from A to Z, symbolizes what Amazon is known for selling everything under the sun. It also serves as a smile, making the company feel friendly and approachable.

 

Atlanta Falcons

This logo doubles as an actual Falcon, and an ‘F’ for Falcons.

 

Baskin Robbins

This logo subtly incorporates the number “31” that was a big part of their older logo

 

Chick-Fil-A

The Chick-Fil-A logo incorporates an illustration of a chicken with the ‘C’ in ‘Chick-Fil-A’ in a not so hidden way.

 

City Direct

Thiss one is really hard to see, but if you focus on the black part of the logo, the airplane is surrounded by the initials CD for City Direct.

 

Eighty 20

This logo was complicated to figure out; the blue squares represent 1’s and the gray squares represent 0’s. This makes a 1010000 sequence on the top line, represent eighty in binary, and the bottom line reads 0010100, which represents 20 in binary.

 

Families/Marriage

In the Families logo, the ‘i’, ‘l’, and second ‘i’ are all different sizes, representing the father as the long ‘l’ and the mother as the longest ‘i’ followed by the child. The upper case “R”s in the Marriage logo mirror each other with their ends sticking together, representing the bond of a relationship.

 

Fashion Center

One extra hole was added to the button, to make an ‘F’ for “Fashion Center”.

 

FedEx

At first glance it’s hard to find the symbolism in this logo, but if you look closer you’ll notice the right-pointing arrow in between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’, representing precision and speed at which FedEx works.

 

Forkwire

This online food delivery logo includes a combination of the internet key @ with a fork, representing food as well as the first half of the name – fork, making the utilization of technology in food delivery very clear and obvious for the customers

 

Formula 1

The negative space in the middle creates the number ‘1’ for “Formula 1″.

 

Fort Worth Zoo

The red ‘fw’ for Fort Worth also creates an elephant.


 

Goodwill

Instead of using an uppercase ‘G’, the logo designers cunningly used a lowercase ‘g’ to not only represent the first letter of the company name, but to represent a smiley face as well, giving viewers an unconsciously positive perception of the company.

 

Gotham Books

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The illustrations of a book are stacked on top of each other to simulate a skyscraper – a trademark of Gotham City.

 

Hartford Whalers

This cleverly designed logo incorporates the tail of a whale, and the Hartford Whalers initials ‘H’ and ‘W’.

 

LG

Many people believe that the Pac-Man symbol is hidden within the LG logo.

 

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers logo uses the team’s initials (M and B) to form a catcher’s glove holding a ball.

 

Missouri Western State University

The Missouri Western State University’s logo has an illustration of the school’s mascot-a griffon in the shape of the state of Missouri.

 

Mosleep

As the name suggests, Mosleep is an organization of doctors that deals with people having sleeping disorders. The logo, for this company is their intial ‘M’ that was also designed to look like a bed.

 

NBC

The NBC logo employs a hidden peacock looking to the right representing the company’s motto to look forward, and not back.

 

Pakuy

The Pakuy logo consists of a simple ‘P’ made of an unfolded box, thus representing the work of the brand which is packaging.

 

Piano Forest

This logo has the elegant design of piano keys that look like trees to resemble a keyboard

 

Schizophrenic

This logo shows the ambiguous emotions of a schizophrenic.

 

To Beat or Not to Beat?

The To Beat of Not to Beat logo uses a belt to make the shape of a question mark, posing the question: To Beat of Not to Beat?

 

Toblerone

The image of a bear is hidden in the Matterhorn mountain, where the first Toblerone chocolate bar was created.

 

Unilever

Each icon within the logo represents an aspect of its business. For example, the shirt (below the heart) symbolizes “clothes” and represent fresh laundry and looking good.

 

Via Rail Canada

The logo successfully incorporates train tracks in the middle.

 

WSU

In this logo, WSU’s initials form a cougar’s head.

 

Yoga Australia

If you look closely, you can see that this woman is making a pose that forms the Australian continent.


Compiled exclusively for WDD by Zoe Ajiboye.

Did you discover the logo’s hidden messages? Do you incorporate hidden symbolism in your logo designs?

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  • Sliver37

    Amazing article, I have seen many of these without even trying to look into their meanings/representations. Awesome stuff.

  • Brooke

    Great selection. Good job!

  • http://jainamistry.com Jaina

    Fantastic list here – really great examples and things I had never seen.

  • http://markmccorkell.com Mark McCorkell

    Some really clever logos there – so many it’s hard to even pick favourites! That Yoga Australia one is really good. I love negative space!

  • http://www.vivoocreative.co.uk Web Design Nottingham

    I love things like this, it just makes you go ahhhhh !!

  • http://www.saiko-sama.fr saiko_sama

    Nice article

    May I add the Carrefour logo (French supermarkt chain)? Like for city direct, they put the “C” of the brand in the logo (in white) :
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9e/Carrefour.png

    I actually never noticed it untill a friend told me ^^

    • http://www.blog.skix.pl SkiX

      Carrefour logo is a great example of Smart Logo!

      ‘I actually never noticed it untill a friend told me’ – yeah, me too!

  • http://www.celareartem.com Artem Pereverzev

    Here’s another example of an “F” representing an elephant http://www.elefanthotel.lv/

  • http://ibrandstudio.com Eko

    Amazing…very creative logo.
    Thanks…this post opened my creative mind :)

  • http://www.jamalnichols.com Jamal Nichols dot com

    Im so tired of the FedEx, Families and Amazon Logos showing up in these showcases…everyone knows about those already. But some of the other ones were pretty cool.

  • Señor Swinstead

    Wow, so many of these are extremely good.

    I can’t believe I never noticed to A to Z aspect of the Amazon logo, all I could ever see was the smiley face.

    Milwaukee Brewers and Toblerone are also very clever.

  • agon

    great collection…thanks for sharing…

  • http://www.1stwebdesigner.com Dainis Graveris

    Good logo collection. Before that I had not noticed that in these logos is also a picture / symbol. This suggests a branding makes think about how it looks/means!

  • http://www.albruna.nl Martin

    This is a great post!!!

    My logo also has a hidden meaning but on a another level. I have a webdesignagency and webdesign and the internet is a constant changing environment therefore my logo shows a partial finished puzzle. Three pieces have been put in place, but one piece still needs to be placed but will never be. Because webdesign and internet will never finish developing.

    The same goes for my company name which also has not one but several hidden meanings:-).

    Albruna is the name of a germanic seeress. Someone who can see the future just like my company looks towards the future in our designwork and just like the internet keeps playing a bigger and bigger part in our future.

    The other meaning is this: The name consists of two words.
    Alb which is the name of a mythological creature (elf) and runa which has the meaning of secret knowledge (runes). So the company name has the meaning: “someone who has the secret knowledge of mythologocial beings”.

    This points towards the whole coding part of websites and so on, which is for most folks undecipherable and rather strange.

    :-)

  • http://www.northernlab.co.uk MajorSparrow

    Great list, very inspirational, thanks for sharing. There are some logos here which I have seen many times, but never picked out some of their elements. Great post.

  • http://telek.pp.ua/ Nastya

    Very useful and interesting article, thanks!

  • SJL

    Nice collection, I actually never though about amazon’s logo before.

    Baskin Robbins logo has 31 in the because they started with 31 flavors.

  • http://www.jordanwalker.net Jordan Walker

    Excellent look into logo, best article of the day!

  • http://www.fenotype.nl Lourens

    Wow, some I already noticed myself, but others are hidden very nice!

  • Felipe Catunda

    I’ve worked at FedEx but never in my life had repaired it. Very good!

  • http://www.websterdesigns.net Adam Webster

    Amazing post! I really enjoy looking at all of the hidden things people put into logo design.

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog adam

    Nice find some of these are really interesting. I didn’t think all of these had hidden symbols until I read it on here, I guess I overlooked a lot of them.

  • Kyle

    wait what? you’re telling me the NBC logo has a HIDDEN PEACOCK! wow, that just blew my mind… I’ve never seen this as a peacock, I just thought it was an error the multi-billion dollar company made. WOW, I’m going to have to start designing logos now, it looks both fun and easy to incorporate symbology into logology. Now where’s my box of crayons?

  • http://www.natashastorm.co.za Storm

    Brilliant showcase of logos! I love logos where they have hidden extras! Another great post!

  • http://wpevolved.com Dan @ wpevolved

    Very interesting article. I love when logos incorporate a hidden or double meaning.

    Also, as much as I’ve seen the Falcons logo and goodwill logo, I didn’t notice the subtle hidden symbolism in them. Thanks for such an interesting read.

  • http://www.jamiereddish.com Jamie

    The LG symbol isn’t supposed to be packman. It’s the letters L and G that make up the face

  • http://www.imagesinverted.com trebaker

    Another great example comes from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions:

    http://www.sportslogos.net/images/logos/30/608/full/5265.gif

  • http://www.jamiereddish.com Jamie

    **But great post. Very cool logos :)

  • Dave

    One of my favorites is the BIGTEN logo with the number 11 hidden in the negative space, since there are actually 11 teams in the Big Ten.

    Thanks for the great Post!!!

    • Tim

      I was surprised that the Big Ten logo wasn’t included in this post. It’s one of my all-time favorite logos!

      • DanR

        I agree about the Big 10. Was going to post it myself.

        It’s so great!

  • http://www.khwebdesign.net Kent

    I grew up in Milwaukee and only in the last year or so did I notice that the (now old) Brewers logo contained an M and a B.

  • http://Ding-Neng.com Ding Neng

    Wow. This is amazing. I didn’t know there are sp many hidden meanings within these logos. Did you analyze and find out these hidden secrets yourself?

  • http://eserrano.com Enrique Serrano

    Great examples, not just of logo design but of symbolims and intelligence.

    Strong symbolism in a logo shouldn’t be something scarce. All logos should tell a deep story about what they mean.

    My only concern is that symbolism shouldn’t be “hidden”. A great logo should convey an idea at a glance, so all people in the target market of the company can quickly recognize the symbol and the meaning behind it.

    Don’t make people think. Tell them a clear symbolic message through a well developed logo.

  • Chris

    I may be a little biased here, but the Brewers logo has always been one of my favorites. Simply classic

  • João ricardo teixeira

    Actually the LG’s is jus a guy blinking one eye… You know , the world wide gesture of ” you can trust me” ( or ” i want you” what is not the case ) I really thinks that the message of trust makes more sense over the message of ‘ Hey we like pacman’

  • J76

    I’m new to design and all things alike, this post has really enlightened me, i will never look at a logo the same way again! ha! great post. thanks.

  • http://rajesharma.com broncha

    Nice collection and interpretation!
    I really like the Eighty 20 logo concept and the Schizophrenic one :(:

    • http://rajesharma.com broncha

      I actually intended to depict the Schizophrenic logo there :)

  • http://www.michaelsaathoff.com Michael Saathoff

    wow some of those had me saying “how have i never noticed that….”

    great post!

  • http://www.conseilsmarketing.fr Fred de ConseilsMarketing.fr

    Hi,

    Here is 29 more examples of logo with secrets (some are duplicates, but some are originals : new man, logo review…)

  • http://www.utopicstudios.com Adroid85

    Piano Forest is my favorite followed closely by Gotham Books. You don’t have to look at them to long to be rewarded with what the logo consists of and what it represents. This is very important to a successful logo I feel.

  • http://www.geekandhype.com Joffrey

    You should give a look at the Carrefour logo. :)

  • Jessica

    Or how about how the “L” in Staples is a… well, staple.

    Or how on the Tostitos chips bag, the two t’s are people holding a chip (aka the dot of the “i”)

    :)

  • http://www.bryan-kun.deviantart.com Bryan G. C.

    I would add the Spartan Golf Club logo too, it’s awesome:
    http://brandstack.com/gallery/brands/pictures/picture12644499135980.jpg

    Nice article!

  • Ricardo

    Amazing selection
    But i have something to add

    The Mexican Metro log is amazing, is shaped as an “M” but if you notice is also the shape of a metro wagon.
    http://lobotuerto.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/misc/metro-logo.jpg

  • http://veanndesign.com Anna

    Great collection. Thanks for compiling.

  • http://www.jerry-lee.cz Jerry

    Sweet ;)

  • http://rolling-webdesign.com Theo

    Nice logo collection and some nice examples in the comments too. Piano Forest and the Fort Worth ZOO are my favorites.

  • http://twitter.com/odnamrataizem AMF

    And there’s also the Prezunic logo (http://www.prezunic.com.br/, a Brazilian supermarket chain), where the “U-diaresis-below” gives it the idea of a cart, with the “N-dot-above” being a person pushing it around.

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/bc/Tostitos_Logo.svg/250px-Tostitos_Logo.svg.png Riley

    I was SO amazed when I found out about the Tostitos Corn Chips Logo.
    The two “t” ‘s represent people eating corn chips with a bowl of salsa (the dot for the “i”).

  • http://sandyc06.student.ipb.ac.id san

    amazing,,, thanks for sharing

  • http://richworks.in Richie

    The ’31’ in the Baskin Robbins Logo signifies the 31 flavors of ice creams they were popular for when they first started :)

    and the pacman interpretation in the LG logo is just a internet gimmick and is no way related to the company :D

    Here is a brief description of the LG ‘One-eyed’ logo:

    The circle symbolizes the globe. The stylized image of a smiling face in the symbol conveys friendliness and approachability. The ‘One eye’ signifies Goal-oriented, focused, confident attributes of the company. The Upper right hand space is intentionally left blank and asymmetric, which represents LG’s creativity and adaptability to changes.

    Thanks for the compilation

  • http://www.logofromdreams.com David

    Never before seen the arrow in fedex !

  • Bob

    I think Cantebury of New Zealand has a good logo, the three kiwis hidden in the C’s

    http://www.canterburynz.com/

  • http://www.travelwriter.at/ @Travelwriticus

    Interesting compilation. I’m esp surprised by the arrow in Fedex. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.jayphilips.com Jay Philips

    Very cool. I didn’t notice some of these before till you pointed it out.

  • http://www.papayashake.com papaya

    awesome… inspirational designs… FedEx and NBC are my fav… but Unilever is really coool… :)

  • Naresh Muthyala

    very cool

  • Boomer

    Wow I have known Toblerone for ages, and eaten it, but never noticed the bear.
    Thats a well hidden message. :)

  • Mark

    The Toblerone bear is also a man with his mouth wide open eating a piece of chocolate (the bear’s head is the man’s nose, and the front paws are the jaw and chocolate piece).

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk/ Jarkko Sibenberg

    I wouldn’t call it ‘hidden’ symbolism in most of those cases, just symbolism. Very often a logo represent more than just one thing. If you take a good look at almost any big company logo, you will soon start to pick out some carefully planned symbolism in them.

    I must say I hadn’t noticed many of those until you pointed it out. Like the FedEx arrow. I also would like LG logo more as a Pac-Man. I never liked theirs. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.hishamassaad.webs.com hisham

    has any one noticed that the Milwaukee Brewers has a logo of Pepsi hidden so obviously in front of everyone??

  • Tim McNellie

    The Pittsburgh Zoo has a few animals hidden in its logo:

    http://blog.pittsburghzoo.org/2010/07/faq-hidden-animals-in-our-logo/

  • http://www.fuzzimo.com/ fuzzimo

    It’s funny how it is; I had been using FedEx a lot and had not noticed the arrow. I read about it a while back and now the arrow is the first thing I see :) .

  • http://www.perthcoffeescape.com/ petar

    i love the Schizophrenic one, very creative!

  • http://dorismanp06.student.ipb.ac.id doris

    You should give a look at the Carrefour logo.

  • http://www.kreativespiders.com Ramki

    Nice article

  • http://WorthwhileAdvertising.com Mike Mayfield

    Great selection of logos. I’ve never noticed that the Atlanta Falcons logo also forms an “F.” Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.philippegaboury.ca Philippe Gaboury

    Never, ever saw the M and B in the Brewers logo before.

    Another good baseball one was the Montreal Expos (now Washington Nationals).
    http://www.baseballtoddsdugout.com/exposlogo.gif

    There’s the red “e” for Expos, the blue “b” for baseball, the whole thing creating a stylised “M” for Montreal and vaguely reminiscent of the shape of the Montreal Olympic Stadium at which they played.

    • http://www.hishamassaad.webs.com hisham

      have you noticed the pepsi logo in the brewer logo???

  • http://tric06.student.ipb.ac.id/ uth

    awesome..amazing, that was a great design logos..

  • Furious Angel

    Fantastic logo: TGV (French fast train): http://www.belrail.be/F/site/jeux/images/logo_tgv.gif

    If you look at it downside, it represent a snail

  • http://www.mateuscorreia.com.br Mateus Correia

    This is the real logo design! Awesome creations and thinkings.

  • http://noo9ya.com noo9ya

    wow~nice article!!

  • http://www.quitethesite.com @QuiteTheSite

    This is so much fun and thought provoking. Thank you.

  • http://design.inkzoo.com Graphic Design Blog

    amazing representation!! we always believe that Logo should reflect the true identity of any business. At times the messages are hidden but they help to make a real relation with target market.

  • http://www.fabfive24.com Beric

    Always learning something new. This is a total different view on the brand logos.

  • Sagar S. Ranpise

    Great examples and thanks for sharing! Check below link for more examples.
    http://www.alldesignstuffs.com/?p=91

  • Ramya

    amazing logos , good creativety