20 Big Brands With Little-Known Cleverness Hidden in Their Logos

Sometimes, brands become so big and familiar that we no longer notice the nuances hidden within their logos. Large, established companies are often thought of as somehow less clever and creative than smaller, edgier startups. But, if you take a look at some of these old, familiar logos, you might discover some symbolism, tricks, and twists that you’ve been overlooking for years. Let’s have a look at twenty logos – ranging from simply “big” brands to ubiquitous companies – that have some hidden cleverness for the observant eye.

Tostitos

The Tostitos logo is certainly familiar enough, but have you noticed the pair of partygoers snacking on salsa?

FedEx

FedEx is found within almost every country in the world. See if you can find the right-facing arrow on their logo.

Amazon

Amazon.com claims to offer every product imaginable from “A” to “Z”. Can you see the same promise illustrated in their logo?

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons logo is primarily based on the bird, but can you see the reiteration of the letter “F” as well? (Hint: step as far away from your screen as the room allows.)

Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins claims 31 unique flavors of ice cream, and they’ve made this claim a part of their branding as well.

Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten Conference of US collegiate teams ran into quite the branding problem. They briefly had eleven teams. (Actually, they have twelve now after Nebraska joined in 2011, and they’ve apparently abandoned any hope of reconciling their total team tally with their brand name.) Negative space provides the opportunity to include all 11 teams.

Goodwill

The “Goodwill” logo strikes a balance between a typographic and an illustrative logo. The “G” forms a friendly smile. Well, half of one at least.

London Symphony Orchestra

This brilliant logo combines the suggestion of a symphony conductor (complete with a baton in his right hand) with the “LSO” acronym.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers combines a traditional baseball glove with the letters “M” and “B”.

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems’ logo seems to spell the word “Sun” in endless circular (clockwise) sequences.

Elettro Domestici

Through clever use of negative space, Elettro Domestici spells out “ED” while simultaneously showing an electric plug.

My Fonts

My Font not only employs an interesting font to represent what they’re all about, they also included a swiping hand, as if to reiterate the possessive nature (Mine!) of their chosen brand.

Hidden Cork

Hidden Cork’s logo forms a wine glass with the letters “H” and “C”. And, they hid their own cork through use of negative space.

The Installers

The Installers used their own installation of double doors (and a well-lit room behind them) to form a capital “I” through negative space.

Families

“Families” included a family of their own with an interesting take on typography in the middle of their family-friendly logo.

Snooty Peacock

In the tradition of M. C. Escher, Snooty Peacock conflates two completely different images together to form their logo.

Unilever

Unilever has 24 different facets to their business, and each of them is represented withing the greater “U” of their brand.

Sony Vaio

Sony Vaio’s logo represents the evolution of analog to digital. The “V” and “A” from a typical analog “wave,” and the “I” and “O” form the essential binary code that forms any digital information.

Elefont

Elefont not only chose a remarkable font for their logo, they also found room for a lowercase “e” and an elephant’s trunk.

Hope For African Children Initiative

The Hope for African Children Initiative’s brand clearly contains the continent of Africa, but it also includes a child and an adult facing each other within the negative space.

Did you discover some new tricks within seemingly-familiar logos? Do you think large organizations still have room for cleverness within their branding, or does it detract from their hard-earned authority and size?

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  • chong

    You missed the spoon in the FedEx Logo.
    Fed = Spoon, Ex = Arrow.

    • Peter North

      Thanks for your insight. I do see a spoon within the negative space of the “e”. I think the arrow fits the context of shipping items from point “A” to “B” very well. I wonder what a spoon might mean for this brand.

      • http://www.dunwoodyumc.org Jason McCranie

        I dont think it is a spoon for a reason, I think it is just an “e”.

      • ringo

        Not a spoon – the lowercase e in Fed, along with the circle of the d, form a door knob.

      • Ralph

        “Spoon Fed” occurs to me.

    • Dennis

      The spoon and the egg is not an hidden element in FedEx but the spoon and egg appears in “e” any which ways in almost all fonts. but i did come across an egg cafe having this concept, and yeah most of them already known. Thanks for list though.

  • http://www.eclecticradio.nl/ Jasper

    @ Elettro Domestici you say ‘though’ but I think you meant through?

    nice article, some of them I knew, some of them I didn’t.

    • Peter North

      Good catch, Jasper. Thanks very much. We are lucky to have such observant readers. I’ve made the correction.

  • http://malecare.org Darryl Mitteldorf

    Malecare at http://malecare.org is a men’s cancer survivor site with an interesting logo, using the roundness of the a and e and the straightness of the l to form a unique and sexy take on men’s health care.

  • http://flash.sikotiko.com Svilen Georgiev

    I haven’t thought that the yellow arrow in Amazon’s logo means “from A to Z”. :-) Very good article!

  • Patrick

    I have always found the Washington State Cougars logo to be well designed as well.

  • Grover

    It always inspires me when I see these. Thanks!

  • nicolas

    Have a look for the Montreal Expos logo… Try to get what it “was” for… http://ballcharts.com/teams/files/V/VancouverExpos/logo1310

    • Aubrey

      The overall shape is a capital M formed by the red lowercase e with a long tail and a blue lowercase b. Vive les Expos.

  • John

    Nice read. I never noticed the arrow in the fedex before this.

    I wonder how many employees at fedex know it’s there?

  • Allen

    Great article! It was an entertaining tour through the hidden gifts of some of the worlds most well-known logos. Thank you!

  • http://www.air-tites.com Marty

    Very nice article! I had noticed less than half of the ones you listed. Take a look at the Browning Buckmark logo too. Excellent use of negative space to create the doe deer in the middle.

  • http://www.air-tites.com Marty

    Excellent article! I had never noticed most of them before!

  • steve

    Then there is computer networking company Cisco. The name is an abbreviated form of San Francisco and the logo is an outline of the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridges and network gear connect people and computers and a bridge is a specific type of network equipment.

    Hyatt house has a logo that incorporates both the “H” from Hyatt and “h” from house while having the appearance of a bed or chair depending on how it is viewed.

  • steve

    One of my all-time favorite logos is that of the US Department of Transportation which simultaneously evokes numerous transportation-related images including a wheel, an aircraft or boat propeller and converging highways or waterways .

  • Tony Johnson
  • http://sheridanmotel.com/ Anthony Goodley

    These really are some great logos. Definitely food for thought here. These logos are using subliminal imagery if you don’t pay close attention to them it would seem.

    I wish I could come up with something great like these logos for the site I just built.

  • http://www.quinnsrapidrecharger.com Stan

    On the Amazon logo, I wondered if the A to Z swoop was also meant to be a smile.

  • http://www.pixelfreeway.com/ Ian

    Very cool article Isabelle. So much can go into creating beautiful, clean looking logos that have real meaning.

    I love simple logos and these are normally the ones that took the longest to create due to lots of design concepts to drill down the the final simplified creation :)

  • michael

    One of my favourites has always been Sunkist… that is mispelling their own name to Sinkist. Pure genious!

    http://hillarymfrazer.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/logosunkistbig1.jpg

  • Barani

    Very good article.

    Such meaningful logos.

  • http://www.kkreations.com.au Karinya

    This is a fantastic collection… and demonstrates why buying random, free, clipart logos is just not the way to go. It takes still to create a logo that gives true sense and purpose for the business.
    The only one that I don’t really think works is the London Symphony Orchestra logo (LSO)… not knowing what it was for (& before reading the blurb), I presumed something like bike-riding! It has that movement to it.
    Always thought Amazon’s smile + A to Z was very well implemented.
    Thank you. K.

  • Peter

    My favorite logo is the “Commonwealth Bank” logo here in Australia. It is meant to be a stylised Southern Cross (the constellation of stars seen in the southern hemisphere). But it really looks like a cracker biscuit that has been dipped in Vegemite, our national spread. A quirky logo for a staid, traditional bank. Perfect!

  • Anukrati

    Very intriguing article.. loved reading it…
    Inspiring too :)

  • http://www.rakacreative.com Brian DeKoning

    I’ve seen some of these but many are new to me. Great collection. Thanks for putting it together. I wasn’t familiar with the LSO logo, which is as you say, brilliant. And I had never learned what the hell the Sony stuff meant. Thanks!

  • Anna Blume
  • Kelley

    The solo cup brand is always a good one. The negative space inside the Os are easily missed.

  • http://www.eventosenmargarita.com yuri rojas

    excellent content and helpful …
    regards

  • http://www.bodamargarita.com/ yuri rojas

    excellent post, I loved ..
    regards