Really smart branding is hard to pull off. We’ve seen countless companies make big PR mistakes with tone-deaf advertisements (especially over the last few years), but one thing remains a constant: their logo design. But have you ever stopped to really look at them?
Some of the most famous logos from around the world actually hold “secret messages” that reflect that brand’s essence. These hidden meanings play on the subconscious, and even if you’ve seen them a million times over, they each hold something rather unexpected.
Hidden within the Toblerone logo is the image of a bear standing on its hind legs. Don’t see it? Take a close look at the mountain. The bear is closely associated with Bern, Switzerland (where the company was originally formed), as well as the Swiss Mountains. The word “Bern” is also hidden within “Toblerone”.
Quiksilver’s logo is actually based on the 19th-century woodblock print by Hokusai, entitled The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. The painting hides Mount Fuji in the background, set within the crest of the wave, and it’s exactly that imagery that Quiksilver’s logo simplifies and depicts.
Wendy’s may be fast food, but it’s also comfort food. Originally founded in 1969 by Dave Thomas, the company was named after his daughter, Wendy. But if you look closely at Wendy’s collar, it actually spells out the word “Mom.” You may have never noticed it, but perhaps your subconscious did. Wendy’s is supposed to have more “homey” feel than the other fast food giants out there, and that message is pretty obvious in the logo.
The South Korea auto company, Hyundai, actually holds the abstract image of two men shaking hands. “The Hyundai logo may look like the first letter of our name, but it also symbolizes two people—the company and customer—shaking hands,” says their website. Interesting.
This “hidden” message here is a bit harder to spot than the rest, but it’s undeniable. The two center “Ts” in the logo are actually two people enjoying Tostitos over a salsa dip. The bowl of salsa is in red and makes up the dot in the letter “i”.
Revamped in 2005, the Baskin Robbins logo has the number “31” hidden in the design. Known for its 31 flavors, the special number 31 is a part of the “B” and “R” letters shown in pink.
Unilever’s logo was designed to include a little bit of everything. The British-Dutch company included “a spoon, an ice cream, a jar, a tea leaf, a hand and much more” in their logo design—all of which reflect the essence of their brand. According to their website, each part of the “U” has its own meaning, and is a visual expression of “making sustainable living commonplace.”
Obviously we can see that the Amazon logo contains a smile, but what doesn’t so-obviously register with most is that the arrow goes from “a” to “z”—meaning Amazon carries most products under the sun.
Perhaps it’s pretty obvious now, but the Pinterest logo (the “P” within the circle) resembles a pin.
If you add a smile on the bottom left-hand side of the red circle, this logo becomes an image of a person, in profile, wearing Beats headphones.
Perhaps one of the least obvious (or most obvious, depending on your perception), the FedEx logo contains an arrow in it, signifying that they’re always on-the-go. Graphic designers seamlessly incorporated this arrow in between the “E” and the “X”, resulting in a brilliant, world-famous design.
The bottom portion of the Levi’s logo resembles…well, apple bottom jeans?
Hidden within Le Tour de France’s logo is the image of a person bicycling. Don’t see it? Look closely at the letters “our” and the orange dot.
Every letter within the word “Toyota” is actually hidden within the logo itself. The “T” is center, the “O” is the outer ring, the “Y” is also made of the center rings, and the “A” is right in the middle. Fascinating, right?
For the histories and meanings behind some of world’s most recognizable brands, check out this story.