Hidden Meanings in 12 Popular Logos
by Jan 14th 2011 6:00AM
Sometimes a company or brand logo is more than it first appears. For example, take a look at the hidden meanings or messages embedded in these 12 popular logos below. You won't look at these designs the same way again.
Can you spot something in this logo? The FedEx logo, designed in 1994 by Linden Leader & Landor Associates, at first appears simple and straightforward. However, if you look at the white space between the "E" and "x" you can see a right-facing arrow. This "hidden" arrow was intended to be a subliminal symbol for speed and precision.
That yellow arrow is more than just a decorative swoosh. The Amazon logo was created to represent the message that it sells everything from A to Z (the arrow connects the two letters) and also represents the smile that customers would experience by shopping on the Amazon.com Web site (the arrow becomes a smile).
In 2005, as part of its 60th anniversary celebration, Baskin-Robbins launched a new brand identity. The new logo was intended to "capture the fun and energy of Baskin-Robbins." In the old logo, the number "31" appeared within a simple arc, suggestive of a scoop of ice cream, and next to the name. In the new logo, you can see that the "31" still exists. It is now formed by the pink portion of the ice cream store's two initials: "B" and "R."
Big Ten Conference
Founded in 1896, the Big Ten Conference is a union of world-class academic institutions who share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. From approximately 1949 until 1990, the Big Ten consisted of 10 member schools. Then, on June 4, 1990, it added Pennsylvania State University into the Conference. The "Big Ten" name stayed the same, but a logo was crafted to reference this addition by planting a number "11" in the negative space. (Look closely at the blue space surrounding the letters "G" and "T" in the left logo.) However, the conference recently revealed an even newer logo to be used beginning with the 2011-12 academic year (shown right). The lettering includes an embedded numeral "10" in the word "BIG" and is built on the conference's iconic name, but this time without any reference to the number of member institutions
In 1908, in Berne, Switzerland, Theodore Tobler and Emil Baumann (Tobler's cousin), developed a unique chocolate, consisting of a special recipe and a triangular shape. But it wasn't until 1970 that the Matterhorn mountain image appeared on the packaging for the first time. Today there is a bear (symbol of the city of Berne, where Toblerone is produced) hidden in the modern version of the Matterhorn mountain logo.
Back in 2003, lamenting the loss of the old Northwest Airlines logo (shown here), pilot Patrick Smith published his critique of the new logo in his "Ask the Pilot" column at Salon.com, saying the airline's previous circular corporate logo was, "quite simply, a work of genius. It was an N; it was a W; it was a compass pointing toward the northwest."
Sun's logo -- which features four interleaved copies of the word "sun" -- was designed by professor Vaughan Pratt of Stanford University. It is an ambigram, which is defined as a typographical design or artform that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint, direction or orientation. The initial version of the logo had the sides oriented horizontally and vertically, but it was subsequently redesigned so as to appear to stand on one corner.
Families and Marriage
The "i's" in Families and the mirrored "R's" in Marriage visually symbolize both relationships simply and effectively.
Do you see the right half of a smiley face? Or do you see a lower case "g"? In either case, you'd be correct.
According to Unilever, its new identity is an expression of vitality. 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.
According to the IBM Archives, in 1972 the IBM international recognition logo was adopted and remains the official logo still in use. The IBM logo is easily recognized by the distinctive eight stripes that make up the letters IBM. The horizontal stripes are intended to suggest "speed and dynamism."