Hidden meanings and subliminal messages are everywhere in marketing, even in the logos themselves. These hidden creations are sometimes unnoticed but are usually designed to emphasize a powerful and significant meaning associated with the brand. This is definitely a huge feat to pull off for a logo designer because it’s easy to go wrong here and the meaning is sometimes indistinguishable. Many of the logos accomplish the injection of hidden symbolism by using the negative space, which is the space surrounding and between the subject of a particular image.
In a two-tone, black-and-white image, a subject is normally depicted in black and the space around it is left blank (white), thereby forming a silhouette of the subject. However, reversing the tones so that the space around the subject is printed black and the subject itself is left blank causes the negative space to be apparent as it forms shapes around the subject, called figure-ground reversal. (Source) Enjoy this top 15 list compiled of logos with hidden meanings and the designer’s behind them. Some marks either hit the mark or just have hidden meanings that you may need to look twice at.
15. The London Symphony Orchestra Logo
Designer: The Partners, 2001
Not only does The London Symphony orchestra spell out “LSO” with a single stroke, but is also meant to resemble a conductor leading an orchestra. The baton can be seen in his right hand (or the “L”)
The Starbucks logo that we know today is based on 15th Century artwork, which includes a topless Greek mermaid with two tails. On the modern logo the two tails can be seen and the mermaids arms reaching to grab them. Personally, it adds a whole new level of weirdness to the calming logo.
Designed By: Turner Duckworth, 2000
Many people think that the yellow icon underneath Amazon.com’s wordmark represents a smile, but it is in fact an arrow pointing from the A to the Z, representing the vast amount of products the company offers.
12. Hershey’s Kisses
Designer: N/A Send Tip
The Hershey’s wordmark looks so simple, but when dug deeper you’ll notice it plays off of the negative space between the ‘K’ and ‘I’ to create the illusion of a kiss chocolate.
Photo Source: CannontUnsee
Designed By: Founder Alan Green and John Law, 1969
Quicksilver owned Roxy which is a girls clothing company focused on Surf and Skate. It’s simply a duplication of the original logo flipped to form a heart. The mark was strong in its prime. I’m pretty sure every girl in my California high school days owned at least one thing from Roxy.
Rumor has it that the Pac-Man logo is hidden within the famous LG logo by rotating the circle and moving just one of the lines. On a hunch, Designer Andrew Keir put the rumor to a successful test. (Seen Above)
9. Museum of London
Designed By: Coley Porter Bell, 2010
This striking multicolored logo may look like just another abstract, but look again. It takes the conceptual form of London’s thumbprint. Colored layers map the shape of London over time, designed to reflect the ever-changing, diverse and dynamic make up of London and Londoners, past, present and future.
A Bear can be found hidden within the Toblerone Chocolate’s Matterhorn mountain logo. The Bear is a symbol of the city of Berne, where Toblerone is produced.
7. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Usually presented in a green color scheme, the faces of a gorilla and lion appear in negative space on both sides of the tree in the Pittsburgh Zoo logo. There are also fish jumping from the trees in the roots.
6. Baskin Robbins
Known for its original slogan “31 Flavors”, The B and R in the Baskin Robbins logo has a 31 hidden in the pink portion. When you zone in on just the pink, you’ll notice it.
5. Spartan Golf Club Logo
Designer: Richard Fonteneau
At first glance you’ll see a golfer in mid swing with what appears to be a gauge of his swing. At second look you see the side profile of a Spartan Soldier’s face. This is a complex logo that breathes creativity on another level.
4. Yoga Australia
Designed By: Roy Smith
In this design the icon is a silhouette of a female doing a popular yoga move. In the negative space in between the girl’s arm and leg is the shape of Australia.
3. The Guild of Food Writers
Creative directors: Matt Baxter and Martin Lawless
Logo designers: Katie Morgan and Natalie Bennett
The Guild of Food Writers is a professional association of food writers, authors, journalists and broadcasters in the UK. The mark is a clean play off an old pen and a spoon is clearly seen in the negative space. The only shame about this one is the application on the website. I wont even link it it’s so bad. I’m very sure the people that designed this mark had nothing to do with it.
Designed By: N/A, 2003 Send Tip
The Tostitos logo includes what looks to be two party-goers sharing a huge chip and dip!
1. Families Logo
Designed By: Herb Lubalin, 1980
One of Herb Lubalin’s minimal masterpieces. This logo plays off of the ‘I’s and ‘L’ in the word families to form a clever suggestion of a Mother, Father and Child. Also as a bonus check out his “Marriage” and “Mother” designs: