You’ve Seen These Logos Every Day, This is What You’ve Been Missing

FedEx’s Hidden Arrow and 43 Other Things You Never Noticed

Branding is a key piece of every company. It’s the ultimate first impression — an aesthetic handshake — and a great logo is the linchpin that holds everything together.

Over time, logos become visual proxies for an entity that provides a product or service. In some cases, they become so popular that they’re recognizable on a global scale and cease to require text. Two obvious examples are Apple and Nike.

Although they may appear simple, these symbols were carefully considered and designed using complex methods. A great example of these complexities include the hidden messages sometimes embedded within logos, which we’ll detail below.

Negative Space

FedEx has planted an arrow in the negative space between the E and X, representing delivery.

A bear can be seen within the negative space of the mountain in Toblerone’s logo.

The negative use of space between the letters in Via’s logo resemble train tracks.

The negative space in Picasa’s logo creates a house. Casa is house in Spanish.

The negative space between the first two letters in this logo creates the shape of a Hershey’s Kiss.

Typography

At first glance, the Milwaukee Brewers logo looks like a simple baseball glove, but the lower case initials m.b. are actually present.

The lowercase g in this Goodwill logo is actually half of a smiley face.

Baskin Robbins is known for its 31 flavours, and they’ve embedded the number 31 in the initials B.R.

If you look closely, you can see how Toyota’s logo uses two ellipses to hint at each letter in the company’s name.

The head, claw and wing of the The Atlanta Falcons’ logo all combine to create the letter F.

The lower case ts in the Tostitos logo represent two people sharing the company’s chips and salsa.

The NCAA’s Big 10 Conference devised a logo where the letters I and G also resemble the number 10.

Lafayette Galleries uses cursive text to recreate the Eiffel Tower with the lower case ts in Lafayette.

Smart use of typography and negative space allow Northwest Airlines to efficiently display both of their initials. The triangle also represents the arrow on a compass.

The Tour de France logo uses the letters R and O to create the image of a person riding a bike.

The single stroke of London Symphony Orchestra’s logo represents all three of their initials and the image of a conductor at work.

Hidden typography is used in Wendy’s collar to spell out the word mom.

DC makes nice use of typography to display their initials while conjuring the image of a page in a comic book.

Symbols

The steam rising from the cup in Second Cup’s logo resembles the letter S.

The use of line in Cisco’s logo resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where the company is based.

The Amazon logo features an arrow that points from a to z, suggesting they offer everything from a to z. It also resembles a smile.

The colorful symbols used in this logo play with negative white space to create the image of a peacock.

This logo for the Museum of London uses color and abstract shapes to represent the shift of London’s borders over time.

This logo for Invisible Children combines the use of symbol and negative space to create a human footprint that resembles a map of Africa.

Lesser Known Logos

The logo for Mylo (a menswear app that I’m about to release), makes use of umlauts and a lowercase y to create the image of a smiling face.

This logo repurposes the initials O.V. to create the pinpoint on a map, reflecting the brand’s outdoor aspect.

The minimal use of the downward arrow in this example creates the effect of a pencil between the lowercase i and l.

The beer mug in Doghouse’s logo doubles as a door.

Dolphin House uses negative white space to create the fin of a dolphin.

The negative space in Handy Dog’s logo is used in a literal sense to reflect their name.

Negative space is used in Wine Forest’s logo to create tree-shaped wine bottles.

At first glance, this logo appears to feature a lone elephant. A closer look reveals several other zoo animals in the negative white space.

The negative space created by the woman’s yoga pose reveals a map of Australia.

Symmetrical typography is used to represent Flight Finder’s initials, while the negative space produces the image of a jet.

This logo for Shift uses two arrow symbols to create an H in the resulting negative space.

The two martini glasses in this logo create a house with negative space.

The fish is this logo is the result of clever typography and negative space.

Bipolar’s logo makes use of keyboard symbols: a forward bracket with semicolons on each side to create a happy/sad face.

CodeFish’s logo also uses keyboard symbols to create the image of a fish.

Uptown makes use of arrows to resemble skyscrapers.

Unlock uses the hook like portion of a lock to begin the letter U in their logo.

Another great example of symbol use: 3 golf clubs, a hole and a ball are positioned to spell out the word Golf.

This logo might seem fairly generic until the negative space in the cup reveals a loaf of bread.

Thanks for Reading

Any logos we missed? Reach out in the comments and we’ll include them in an update or another post.

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Hi, I’m Daniel. I’ve founded a few companies including Piccsy (acq. 2014) and EveryGuyed (acq. 2011). I am currently open to new career and consulting opportunities. Get in touch via email.

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An interactive essay I wrote exploring the past, present, and future of anthropomorphic design. Also available as a talk for conferences, events, etc.