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May 5, 2014

7 Secret Messages Hidden in Logos

7 Secret Messages Hidden in Logos

Do you believe that subliminal messages in product logos can influence your patronage? Do you scrutinize logos to try and find little secret designs within the design? Moreover, do you think that the graphic representation of the growth of the city of London in the Museum of London logo was apparent to anyone besides the logo designers? Neither do we.

Well, regardless of what we or other naysayers think about the merits of hidden logo messaging, if the design concept is strong, more power to ’em, we say.

For the most part, you want your logo to be clear and make sense, and a good logo designer will ensure it matches the rest of your brand as well. Yes, there are subliminal — or hidden — messages in a great many logos. Some of them are brilliant; many others require a decoder ring and precious, nonrefundable hours of our lives to decipher successfully. While there are those who strongly believe that hidden designs have an impact on the buying habits of consumers, there is no real need to try to stuff a hidden image into a logo design in an inelegant fashion; otherwise, you get this.

Toblerone

The classic Toblerone logo with the Matterhorn design actually has a little bear in the negative space. See? It’s meant to hark back to the company’s roots — which started in the Swiss city of Bern — which is cool, but we’re not really sure if it’s effective in getting people to put the bar of chocolate in their shopping carts. Still, it’s a quaint way of honoring the companies beginnings.

Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins integrated its famous “31” right into its badge. The 31 flavors, being a part of the corporate branding for so long, couldn’t just be abandoned even though the number of flavors has surely changed by now. Regardless, it’s a tight, efficient and fun badge and surprisingly sleek for a brand that is nearly 70.

Tostitos

The Tostitos logo has incorporated two little party-goers, fighting over a single chip near a bowl of salsa. It may seem like a lighthearted event on the surface, but there’s a bloodbath a’ brewin’.

Amazon

Amazon, the most efficient and varied online marketplace on the planet, uses its logo to convey exactly what it provides to its customers — namely everything under the sun. The little arrow, which many consider a smiley face, actually points to the “a” and “z” in the word “Amazon,” signifying that Amazon can provide anything from A-Z, which it literally does. You could spend the afternoon shopping for groceries, a belt sander and a Sham Wow while streaming the first season of Duck Dynasty. And we have.

Le Tour de France

Lest you think that the Tour de France is merely an event where heavily performance-enhanced athletes can make names for themselves and then have their titles ripped from them in disgrace, the logo helpfully reminds us that there is also some bicycling involved. Here, the logo makes it perfectly clear with the depiction of a little cyclist, pedaling furiously. No doubt on his way to get some human growth hormone.

FedEx

Strength! Power! Reliability! A little arrow pointing to the right! All of these qualities have been incorporated into the bold FedEx logo. The little arrow is a supremely nice touch and probably the best example of subliminal logo imagery of any badge we’ve seen so far. No offense, Toblerone bear. It’s one of those things that once you see it, you’ll always see it first when watching a FedEx truck drive by.

Yoga Australia

This logo is very elegantly designed; even if you don’t necessarily recognize that the shape of the continent of Australia was integrated into the white space of the yoga model, it is still a thoroughly appropriate image. The Yoga Australia logo is particularly interesting because it made us wonder if an actual person performing the depicted yoga pose would really make the shape of Australia in the space between the extended leg and back. We would try it ourselves, but we’re fairly confident that we’d snap every tendon in our bodies.

Even if the above logos didn’t psychically make you want a Toblerone, to ship something overnight or to fly to Melbourne for some lessons in downward facing dog, the logos have still been pretty successful from a design perspective. They offer a sound lesson in the use of negative space for supplementary imagery, which is: “Only use negative space for relevant supplementary imagery. Unless you can design a really cool bear, in which case, go for it.

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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