Designing a logo is a complicated enough business as it is, trying to convey the purpose and personality of a business in one small design. That’s why it’s so impressive when we find a logo that manages to do all of that and sneak in something a little extra!
Discovering a hidden meaning can make you look at a logo in a whole new light, transforming what was an okay design into something ingenious. And you’ll never be able to see that logo without noticing it ever again.
Interestingly, hidden messages are often the part that actually tells you about what the company does and yet they’re the last thing people figure out, if they figure it out at all. Here are some of our favourite secret meaning logos with messages that we think are particularly well hidden.
You’ll know this logo as belonging to the leading internet networking company, Cisco Systems Inc. Given what kind of service Cisco provides, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the vertical lines above the company name represent some kind of digital signal.
However, those lines actually refer to the company’s namesake, San Francisco and, more specifically, the Golden Gate Bridge. The company’s head office is located there and they say that seeing the bridge inspired the company’s very name.
The Toblerone logo is a fantastic example of using negative space to create a secret message. Take another look at the image of a mountain and see if you can find the hidden bear. We’ll give you a clue, it’s standing on its hind legs.
This delicious chocolate brand was created in Switzerland in a town called Bern. Not only is this town known as The City of Bears, Bern actually translates to bear in English. This little Easter egg that the designer managed to include harks back to the brand’s very beginnings.
Until recently we thought that the Pinterest logo was simply a red circle with the brand’s initial inside. Our bet is that a lot of you thought the same. It turns out, though, there was a little more thought put into the logo than that.
See how the bottom of the letter ‘P’ is slightly pointed? That letter is actually a pin tack – like the ones people would use when creating a mood board! So, when people ‘pin’ things to their ‘boards’ on Pinterest, it’s like they’re creating a digital version of those traditional inspiration boards.
4. London Symphony Orchestra
The logo for the London Symphony Orchestra is one of those logos which comes across as just a simple logotype at first. In fact, this is not just a fancy way writing out the orchestra’s initials, L.S.O. – the letters create an abstract image of a conductor, poised to lead the orchestra in.
Conductors are vital to the success of any orchestra. It’s interesting to note that the LSO have acknowledged this in their logo and in their recent visual identity overhaul, designed by the same agency who created their logo, in fact. See here for how they managed to digital generated imagery based on a conductor’s movements.
Eighty20 is the name of a consultancy company in South Africa. The company say that they got their name from the Pareto Principle, the theory goes that 80% of your output is generated by 20% of the input. This 80:20 ratio has been applied to many different fields in business – from revenue where 80% of your income comes from 20% of your client base, to root cause analysis where 80% of your problems come from 20% of a root issue.
Anyway, there’s more to this logo than that. You might think that the squares in this logo fit the 80:20 ratio but, in fact, there are 14 squares and four of them have been filled which does not equal 20%. Instead read the filled squares as 1s and the grey squares as 0s. Now, the top line reads 1010000 and the bottom line reads 0010100 which is binary code for 80 and 20!
Back to a logo you’ll probably be much more familiar with, the Hyundai logo. Most people would assume that the logo is based around the letter ‘H’ as the initial to the company name. While that could be one interpretation of the logo, it actually signifies more than just that.
This logo actually represents the great relationship Hyundai hope to have with their clients with an abstract depiction of a client shaking hands with a representative of the company. If you’re struggling to see the connection, the image below might help you.
7. Museum of London
Now for a logo that is heralded as the key to the Museum of London’s continued success. In the year after this logo was released, alongside the accompanying visual identity revamp, the museum saw visits increase by 79%!
The overlapping shapes that make up this logo were not random. They capture how the city of London has changed shape over the years.
Finally, we’d like to end with the Sony Vaio logo. Vaio may have been discontinued but it’s still one of our favourite double meaning logos.
Their logo represents the integration of analog and digital technologies. The letters ‘v’ and ‘a’ create a sine wave, seen in analog signals, while the letters ‘i’ and ‘o’ represent the repeated 1s and 0s in binary code. We liked this logo before but knowing this makes it even better.
Feeling inspired? Don’t forget to check out our blog on Logo Design Inspiration for more fantastic logo designs.