Popular Logos with Hidden Symbolisms

Sep 25 2009 by Thomas Hardy | 112 Comments

Some logos are very creative and have subtle symbols and messages that represents something about the company it stands for. We explore a handful of such logos in this collection.

Big 10

Big 10

The Big Ten Conference is the United States’ oldest Division 1 college athletic conference. Since Penn State joined in 1990, there have been 11 schools in the Big Ten. They revamped their logo by placing a hidden number 11 on either sides of the letter T to stand for the actual number of schools in the division.

Goodwill

Goodwill

Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged people in North America. The letter G in the logo is a smiling face, conveying the notion that Goodwill provides happiness and relief to those in need.

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems

If you look at the diamond icon on the left of the company’s name, you will see that it spells out Sun starting from any corner. It is a wonderful example of symmetry.

Amazon

Amazon

This logo has been around for over a decade, but many people do not know that there’s a hidden symbolism in Amazon’s logo. The arrow from A to Z represents that the website sells everything from A to Z, and doubles as a "smile" to suggest satisfied customers.

Toblerone

Toblerone

In the company’s logo, you will see a bear hidden in the mountain. The bear is the symbol of the city of Berne in Switzerland where Toblerone is produced.

Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins

At first glance, this logo looks simply like the initials for Baskin Robins but if you take a second look, you will see the number 31 in the acronym (highlighted in a pink color). This stems from the idea that Baskin Robbins sells 31 types of ice cream, one for each day of the month.

FedEx

FedEx

The hidden rightward-pointing arrow in the negative space between the letter E and X conveys the speed and precision of the company’s delivery service.

Hope for African Children Initiative

Goodwill

At first glance, this logo looks like a map of Africa, but if you take a closer look, you will see two people facing each other.

Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers

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

Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines

The old Northwest Airlines logo has a very clever icon. Not only does the icon on the left of the text spell out N and W, but the arrow and circle symbolizes a compass pointing in the northwestern direction.

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About the Author

Thomas HardyThomas Hardy is a web designer from Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), here is his portfolio. He founded Design-Heaven, where he regularly blogs. You can will also connect with him on Twitter.

112 Comments

Listoric

September 25th, 2009

Very nice. The most stunning was the Toblerone one. I never noticed this.

SUNs Logo is also very good, I just noticed this after reading a blog about logos in the last two weeks (probably smashingmagazine).

The most clever is the one from FedEx, but I knew this one already, but it’s my favourite example of hidden messages/symbols in logos everytime I talk about it.

Nice collection, can’t wait to see a second collection :)

Suneel

September 25th, 2009

Amazing logos and their hidden meanings.

Donno how the designers come out with these kind of ideas.

Is it the worth of the designers or clients(r they so clever, in a designer’s perspective?) who ask these kind of logos?

J. Pedro Ribeiro

September 25th, 2009

Although they are not all great logos, they sure have some great ‘hidden’ messages. I loved the goodwill one!

Alex Crooks

September 25th, 2009

You’l notice the hidden heart in our logo too :)

http://www.somethinginteresting.co.uk

Kris Olin

September 25th, 2009

These are great discoveries! Especially the African children Initiative. -Kris

purposeinc

September 25th, 2009

wandered over from twitter. I have looked at many of those logos thousands of times in the past, and missed the hidden part. Very fascinating.

Maximilian Georg Liebscher

September 25th, 2009

FIRST!

There are really nice ideas of logo-typography…

Maxime Perron Caissy

September 25th, 2009

Thanks for explaining some of the hidden symbolism. It’s fun to hear a little stories for each company!

Andy Gongea

September 25th, 2009

OLE!

Very nice logos and some interesting hidden things. This is an enjoyable post. Cheers!

Martin Bean

September 25th, 2009

Good post. A few I was already conscious of, others not so.

Monika Leigh

September 25th, 2009

Wow! This was fun to look at.
I love looking at logo designs. And these are just so clever.
I never noticed the Northwest Airlines logo. That is is pretty cool.
Thanks for this post. :)

Rohini Kulkarni

September 25th, 2009

Nice one! :)
Thank u. :)

Jason Garrison

September 25th, 2009

Very cool. Makes me wonder how many of these were intentional and how many were “happy accidents”.

Franco

September 25th, 2009

Love this post, excelent selection!!!

ILLUMINZ

September 25th, 2009

There is n’t so much hidden in “goodwill” & “sun”, but every logo is a good study.

Andrieux

September 25th, 2009

It’s neat what you see when you look hard enough. I can’t believe I never noticed that arrow in the FedEx logo. :-p.

euonymous

September 25th, 2009

Thank you for writing this up. That was amazing. I don’t think of any of this as particularly subliminal in impact, but it does say a lot about good logo design. Clever graphics professionals can include meaningful symbolism that will please their clients and charm everyone else. Like most people I don’t try to dissect a logo’s symbolism, but I appreciate it when pointed out.

Freddy

September 25th, 2009

nice list, the fedex logo is still one of my all time favs

Sticky Media Group

September 25th, 2009

Great post Thomas, some clever stuff here. Can’t believe I’ve never noticed the bear on Toblerone’s logo…

Antonio Cosentino

September 25th, 2009

This post is amazing! I can’t believe i’ve never seen the arrow in the FedEx logo! :)

tom c.

September 25th, 2009

awesome post. the Big Ten logo is really clever.

similar to the Hope for African Children Initiative, Share Our Strength has a logo with a bitten apple that shows two people facing each other.

monica schaffer

September 25th, 2009

….and I thought the OTHER Thomas Hardy ( from Dorchester b.1840)) was poetic….Mr Hardy I LOVE your poetic perceptions! thanks for sharing and helping us SEE!!!!……
ps…one of my favorites from the other Tom…The Darkling Thrush….

Craig Wann

September 25th, 2009

This is Great! I had never noticed the symbolism in almost every case! Funny, I would think I would notice things like that!

Francisco

September 25th, 2009

Nice work. I knew about a few of these like the FedEx, but not all of them. It’s great to see the thinking that goes into some logos.

John Dowdell

September 25th, 2009

Great stuff… thanks for bringing this collection together!

Matches

September 25th, 2009

Very interesting post. Will there be more like that?

Dirk

September 25th, 2009

Thank you for this post. It’s good to see such a good work from designers

Montana Flynn

September 25th, 2009

I love this! I enjoy great typography and these are all unique and I have missed them all these years!

Thanks!

linh

September 25th, 2009

great, i never know these Hidden Symbolisms before untill reading this topic

i like the amazone logo

thanks

AndrewNoNumbers

September 25th, 2009

Wow the NW Airlines one is amazing! Why did they ever think to change it!?

Jonath Lee

September 26th, 2009

Wow, what a great set of hidden symbols in these logos. Very creative indeed, I can’t forget the logo of Hope for African Children Initiative. It was indeed a very nice and meaningful logo.

Great post.

Mark

September 26th, 2009

The only one of these I knew already was FedEx. Those are great. Some designers are so creative they make me sick.

Jacob Gube

September 26th, 2009

@AndrewNoNumbers: I thought that was the best one too! Triple symbolic, a shame they changed it. It does look very classical, and maybe they were going for edgy and futuristic as a brand for the new logo.

Web 2.0

September 26th, 2009

Interesting, I had never looked them that way…

Jacob Cass

September 26th, 2009

Northwest Airlines was a new one for me… very clever. Thanks for putting together this list though like Bogdan pointed out I’ve seen many of these posts before (all extremely similar).

Shanna Korby

September 26th, 2009

I can’t believe I never saw the “S” in the “un” of the SUN logo before. That’s clever.

P4blo

September 26th, 2009

Great post Jacob!

P4blo

September 26th, 2009

I mean Thomas Hardy… XD!!

Stephen

September 26th, 2009

Great examples. This takes the wind out of the sails (sales?) of companies like brandstack(dot)com who sell predesigned logos for cheap. Completely reinforces the value of intelligent design on strategy.

lambros

September 26th, 2009

excellent information! you help me a lot now for a presentation that i have :)

Khoi Nguyen

September 26th, 2009

Sweet. Always love seeing hidden symbols in logos.

Addicott Web

September 26th, 2009

Those are awesome – thanks for sharing! I knew about the FedEx one – now every time I see a FedEx truck, the arrow always pops out at me. It’s amazing how designers come up with this stuff!

cal

September 26th, 2009

Glad to see you included the old Brewers logo…..the Montreal Expos’ (now the Washington Nationals) logo had a similar concept (see here: http://www.typesett.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/washington-logo-1.gif) with the entire shape being an ‘M’ and a lowercase ‘e’ and ‘b’ also being visible. The triad stands for ‘Montreal Expos Baseball.’

MexInsurance

September 26th, 2009

I NEVER noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo before… wow! I really liked the African Children Initiative – very nice!

tanmay

September 27th, 2009

I think, the quest for designing unique thing leads to these kind of great logos. Simple things are not always simple :)

Mansi

September 27th, 2009

Neat, very neat

Ben Rama

September 27th, 2009

symblisms nice word – i like seeing meaning and extra details in things just like these – i often see faces in clouds and puddles while i walk around my city

sonnydesign

September 27th, 2009

I like Toblerone and this is the first time i noticed that hidden symbol!

jenny addington

September 27th, 2009

thanks.interesting insights. a top university, dont remember which one, has a class devoted to logos that give the product a good kick, though not sure what it is clever.

Roberto

September 27th, 2009

Some of them I´ve noticed before, others have not. Very interesting.

MyDesign

September 28th, 2009

A logo that cannot easily tell the audience what it is trying to represent is not a clever logo but a failed logo. Some of these logos are poor

Nick Cammarata

September 28th, 2009

Thanks for the help! I used it on my site: http://uploadrobots.com/about

Lauren

September 28th, 2009

Most of these I knew the hidden symbols in the logos, but I never noticed the Goodwill logo had the face a “g” as well.

N.J. Diamonds

September 28th, 2009

I found this very interesting thank you for sharing, hope you will put some more up here.

Richard Zakia

September 28th, 2009

Some great examples of figure/ground. Fun to discover things. I have other examples in my book “Perception and Imaging” that go beyond design and
get into embeds in photographs and advertisements. An outline of the book is on Amazon. I also have an entire chapters on subliminal. Things in pictures that can be seen but are not.

Ben

September 28th, 2009

You missed the most regognizable logo in sports – the WSU logo. The letters form a cougar’s head.

bee

September 28th, 2009

I haven’t noticed most of them before… The Toblerone Bear really is great!

OptionGal

September 28th, 2009

All very neat. I really enjoyed seeing these; some I was aware of, some not. One logo I think should have been included is the Round Table logo. My guy and I have had a long dispute on whether or not the heraldic symbols spell out the word “FUN”. Any thoughts?

Angela

September 29th, 2009

Great ideas! Amazing logos! :)

thagrizz

September 29th, 2009

No Mention of the former logo of the NHL’s HARTFORD WHALERS???

I remember being floored by that one as a kid.

dean

September 29th, 2009

This is neat – never would have guessed the FedEX arrow in the logo. Would love to see some examples of logos that unintentionally portray messages (bad ones) – i know they’re out there!

Sasa Zivaljevic

September 30th, 2009

Great post. Great examples.

Jen

September 30th, 2009

Love this post — typography is such a fascinating art form. I can’t believe I never noticed the Fed Ex arrow.

Kyle

September 30th, 2009

Tostitos also features a cute dual image, of two people standing beside a bowl of salsa (see: the t-i-t portion of the name, sorry for having to spell that out).

As a Wisconsinite, I was shocked that in all the time the Brewers used that logo, I never once noticed the MB.

c3

September 30th, 2009

That Toblerone got me as well, which is ironic since it’s the one I consume the most of.

andyRespire

October 1st, 2009

Only Toblerone I hadn’t noticed before. As a graphic designer who finds most double imagery obvious, this reminds me of the masses that don’t notice these things. Like Kyle’s comment, there are many more than this. Great post.

HK

October 1st, 2009

So good! Thanks

Shahid Saifi

October 1st, 2009

I like the Hope for African Children Initiative.

All others are too good.

Thanks

Annie

October 1st, 2009

I have always been interested in logos and marketing techniques. Those who have designed a great logo always have my kudos. Thanks for putting them all in one post. Most interesting and delightful.

Eric

October 2nd, 2009

My favorite is the Hartford Whalers (old NHL team) logo:

Great hidden H in the whitespace.

http://kl.am/3CLG

Betty Dravis

October 3rd, 2009

Thanks for sharing this fascinating background on these creative logos. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I looove the Milwaukee Brewers and GoodWill. Even the Amazon logo is quite clever.

Now, tell us Thomas what is the symbolism in your TH, green logo? Curious minds want to know.

Thanks – Betty

Rob O.

October 4th, 2009

Great stuff! We haven’t had a Baskin Robbins in our city for many years, so I had never noticed the updated logo with the subliminal “31.” Very clever!

Most people don’t catch the two people sharing a chip & a bowl of salsa in the Tostitos chips logo: http://www.fritolay.com/tostitos/index.html

ashley palacios

October 4th, 2009

i think its incredible how many little things you can find in a simple advertistment like the 31 in baskin robins meaning 31 flavors or the arrow in fedex meaning like direct express

Shane

October 5th, 2009

Very clever logo designs, i would never of noticed some of the hidden symbols.
Thanks for sharing.

Christophe Lauer [MS]

October 5th, 2009

Do you see the letter “C” in the logo of the French retailer “Carrefour” ?
http://www.carrefour.fr/

Andrew

October 6th, 2009

The National Parks Foundation Logo is another good example.

http://www.nationalparks.org/

Mark Carter

October 6th, 2009

Never noticed the bear in Toblerone!!!!

Neo

October 7th, 2009

Nice job man. Im not agreed for subliminal messages but this time is vey useful!

Afalibeth

October 10th, 2009

I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!,

fas aser

October 14th, 2009

lame, these all but one or two are the driving concept behind the logo- not some hidden meaning.

aherna29

October 23rd, 2009

itis this is a very interesting article. I’m always amazed on how much information the brain can process at a time, which is why we are taking in subliminal messages without realizing it. I think as well is very cleaver for graphic designers to be able to create such amazing logos with hidden messages in it. That is the fun of advertising!!

Riitka

November 5th, 2009

Amazing observation n excellent creativity on part of logo designers..!!

Juna D

November 9th, 2009

I love the hidden messages. I’ve seen the Milwaukee Brewers logo tons of times and never knew about the B&M in the logo. I also never noticed that the “G” in goodwill was the face. Great catch.

Webazia

November 22nd, 2009

A lot of creativity, but I’m sure some of these outstanding hidden significations came by chance, like the arrow in Fedex logo.

Dave

January 17th, 2010

Really interesting post! Thanks for that.

Elle

January 22nd, 2010

I love all of the hidden symbols in these logos. In design, that is just what you need – depth and meaning. Thank you for sharing!

bharath

February 3rd, 2010

Great! hidden symbols Amazing, great work to make aware of those hidden significations.

LDM

February 24th, 2010

I have not seen the hope for african children initiative logo before but this is really clever. Some really excellent examples of logo design, thank you for sharing.

Preston Racette

April 7th, 2010

Cool Logos! Great Ideas! I love hidden images in logos.

iki yazar

April 16th, 2010

They’re amazing…I should keep this post on my archive.I surprised to Fedex’s logo.But I knew Toblerone :D

JP

May 2nd, 2010

To think I have never even noticed the Northwest one before – very clever. I think a lot of these do go unnoticed.

Kamesh

May 5th, 2010

Good post and informative

sara

June 10th, 2010

great idea the “hope for african children” logo

katie_ssl

July 1st, 2010

wow, very clever designed. So cool!

YaWeZ

July 21st, 2010

Really interesting post! Thanks for that.

Tuna

July 28th, 2010

Interesting, I had never looked them that way ….

Alican

August 5th, 2010

Interesting, I had never looked them that way ….

Juan

August 11th, 2010

I am really impressed by the Goodwill icon.

@Alex Crooks, I could not find the heart in your icon.

Harry

August 30th, 2010

I already knew about almost all the logos. However, whenever I see them again, I feel so happy and amazed about those great and clever designers who made them. :)

gino

September 16th, 2010

nice and usefull information about famous brand

wahhid

October 8th, 2010

Wow.. Amazing.. Everything has hidden message, somebody knows..

Matt S

December 25th, 2010

Don’t forget that the NFL Atlanta Falcons have a logo that looks like a falcon, but it’s also an F

Connor

December 25th, 2010

Very nice article, but “It is a wonderful example of symmetry.” would make sense if, you know, it actually was symmetrical. Which it isn’t.

singleinsg

December 28th, 2010

I did not realise there were so many subtle meanings attached to the logos! Mind blowing stuff!

Ajay Shevade

January 17th, 2011

Very beautiful & Asthetic sense.
Very good space dividation.

Best… Best!

redlex

March 22nd, 2011

Hİ, Great post Thomas, some clever stuff here. Can’t believe I’ve never noticed the bear on Toblerone’s logo…

george

April 19th, 2011

- not hidden (…perhaps “suBtle” instead :-)

Chicago Kids

May 19th, 2011

Oh man I never realized the goodwill smiley was disguised as a “g”. Crazy!

Joao Carlos

August 29th, 2011

Dear friends,
I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I Live in a city that is very hot most of rhe year. I plan to start an ice cream business. Can you help me create a logo with a subliminal message ? Thank you very much.

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