The hidden world of logos

By Ellie Pearson, Designer and Studio Manager in Mobas' Creative team.

In the design and advertising world, logo design and branding is arguably the key element in a company’s visual identity. Branding can convey many ideas, thoughts and emotions all in one simple design. However, because of a logo’s sheer simplicity many designers and brands have turned to hidden symbolism to provide an extra dimension.

These hidden elements aren’t always obvious and sometimes many of them may go unnoticed for a great length of time, however they are all extremely creative in their own right and fascinating to examine. Just a note of caution, once you have seen these hidden elements it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever fail to notice them again!

FedEx
FedEx has arguably one of the most discussed logos with regard to hidden symbolism and also one of the subtlest. At first glance it may be hard to spot, but focus on the orange type and the white space between the E and the X creates a right-pointing arrow symbolising the company’s operations and suggesting that it’s moving forward and looking ahead.

amazon.com
The arrow running from the a to the z symbolises what Amazon is most known for: selling everything you could think of. The arrow also works as a smile making the company come across as friendly, approachable and a pleasure to shop with.

Baskin Robbins
Popular American ice cream brand Baskin Robbins’ hidden symbolism in their brand is possibly the one I find hardest not to see now that it’s been pointed out. In icon form the brand uses the B and the R of their brand name in their brand colours, pink and blue. When focusing on just the pink elements of the icon, you can see the number 31 appear, symbolising the number of flavours Baskin Robbins offers. It actually makes you wonder what came first…

The Guild of Food Writers
I think this brand identity is possibly my favourite because of its simplicity and how it works so well without appearing to try. The combination of the fountain pen to signify the writing element of the brand and the spoon to represent the food work so seamlessly together it can easily go unnoticed. It is because of this that in my eyes it is so clever and creative.

London Symphony Orchestra
The shapes created in this logo not only convey an extreme sense of movement and life but they also spell out LSO for the London Symphony Orchestra. If you look a little closer you may also be able to see the shape of a conductor with the S acting as his head and the L and O as his arms and baton.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium logo features the faces of a gorilla and a lion on either side of the tree, appearing in the negative whitespace. Also, often missed, is the pair of fish leaping from the base of the tree highlighting some of the animals you’ll see during a visit.

Almeida Theatre
Beautifully simple, and possibly only spotted by a theatrical audience, the hidden element in the short-lived logo of the Islington theatre is created by a subtle adaptation of the typeface used. The crossbars in the As have been curved down and up to represent the frown and the smile on the classic masks of tragedy and comedy.