We tend not to realize how many logos we encounter in our day-to-day lives.
Because we’re hit with so many stimuli throughout the day, we often forgo paying attention to details, corporate logos being no exception. Many of these logos are designed with hidden or double meanings that subtly influence our perceptions – hidden meanings that we often miss.
Whether you’re thinking about creating your own company logo or even if you’re looking for logo design inspiration, it’s worth examining some of these famous brand logos and seeing what you can learn from them.
So, let’s get to it! Here are 15 famous logos with hidden meanings.
Is that a “BR” you see, or the number 31? The answer is – both! This iconic ice cream chain has evolved into a powerful brand over the years and is recognizable by name, but that doesn’t stop them from reminding their customers of their original promise in their logo: 31 incredible flavors, one for every day of the month.
The e-commerce/cloud-computing giant is represented by a simple logo with a single splash of color in the arrow. Yet, the arrow holds the bulk of the logo’s message; it symbolizes that Amazon carries it all – from “a” to “z” – and brings a smile to its customers’ faces for that reason!
Why so many colors in this peacock-shaped logo? Well, the logo was created at the same time as color televisions, and NBC wanted to emphasize their stake in the market. The six feathers represent each division of the network, and the peacock overall was to remind customers that the network was “proud as a peacock” of their color programming.
The famous chocolate company pays homage to geography with its intricately-designed logo. Can you spot the bear inside the mountain? The animal represents Bern, Switzerland, which is the city in which Toblerone is produced.
Embedded within a widely-recognized symbol on cars around the road is a secret surprise. The “H” that everyone assumes stands for “Hyundai” also symbolizes two individuals meeting in the middle with a firm handshake – ostensibly representing the satisfying bond between brand and customer.
What could possibly be hidden about this logo, you ask? I’ll tell you: Underneath the simplistic shape is an example of effectively used negative space. The space here mimics the shape of classic Levi’s pockets, formed in the shape of a batwing on every pair of pants they produce.
7. Hershey’s Kisses
Chocolate, chocolate everywhere; the average sugar-lover can’t wait to unwrap that Hershey’s Kisses foil and see what’s inside – so the logo gives us a sneak peak! Embedded in the lettering, between the “K” and the “I,” is an extra, sideways-facing chocolate kiss. If only every pack came with an extra kiss, too!
The phone company’s logo incorporates a strategically placed L and G, but what you may not realize is that it also makes up a face – ultimately humanizing the brand. See that little dot in the left-hand corner of the logo? That would be the face’s eye!
9. Goodwill Industries International
The nonprofit is all about making people happy, as evidenced by the smiley face in the lowercase “G” of their logo. For the feeble-eyed among us, the organization magnified the smile to claim a substantial part of the design.
10. The Bronx Zoo
It’s a bird, it’s a giraffe, it’s a – New York City skyline! One of the largest zoos in the world, the Bronx Zoo can be found in uptown Manhattan, and that’s the subtle focal point of its logo. Between the legs of the animals that are housed in the zoo, the outline of the Big Apple stands proudly, inviting zoo-goers to explore the city as much as to see its animals.
Another good example of using negative space in an effective way, the delivery service sneaked an arrow in between the “e” and “x” of the logo – alluding to the speed at which its packages will be delivered.
12. Continental Tire
Continental Tire is the perfect example of how to use fonts to your advantage. “The Future in Motion,” may be their logo’s tagline, but that’s not the only thing moving in this brand design; in addition to the horse symbol in the end of the lettering, the ‘C’ and the ‘O’ come together to form a tire!
This (former) SONY computer brand was clever with their abstract logo design, but the average onlooker would probably miss the reference. The ‘V’ and ‘A’ together represent an analog wave, while the ‘I’ and ‘O’ are reminiscent of digital signal (through the binary numbers 1 and 0).
Everyone comes together over tortilla chips – at least that’s the idea behind Tostitos’ logo. The ‘T’s’ in the wordmark are actually people, and they are happily dipping the same tortilla chip into the pot of salsa being featured by the ‘i’. The chips are supposedly so unifying that they don’t even mind sharing!
By now, everyone can recognize the face of the world-famous coffee house chain – a siren. Sirens are mythical creatures from the water, which is quite fitting for the brand, as Starbucks was born in the port-city of Seattle. You may notice that she’s slightly asymmetrical, and this was no accident; the coffee house chain intentionally did this to humanize her, in order for customers to find her relatable.
Over to You
As you work on creating your own brand identity, you may decide to incorporate hidden meanings into your logo. Which of the above logos did you feel worked effectively? What kind of message do you want to send your audience? Consider some of these famous logos and think about how they can be helpful in bringing your brand to life.