Secret Logo Decoder Ring, Activate!


Rarely does graphic design inspire such heated discussion as in the case of the almighty logo (with the recent exception of Arnell’s Tropicana packaging, which we’ll be glad to never, ever revisit). Corporate versions tend to inspire particular ire, but are occasionally, thoughtfully, worth a second glance. After the jump, we have ten logos from big box retailers on down, plus secrets — lots of secrets! — that these companies may or may not want you to decode.

Check out the arrow in Amazon‘s logo. Not only is it grinning (service with a smile!) it’s a nuanced suggestion that consumers can shop for everything from A to Z on the company’s behemoth website.

Toblerone chocolate: delicious, hazelnutty, Swiss. Also, sneaky! The logo at left depicting the Swiss Alps is a sly reference to Bern, Switzerland, where the brand originated. Bern is rumored to mean “City of Bears.” Now take another gander at that mountain logo.

It’s not exactly a secret by now that FedEx’s logo includes an arrow, but it’s worth mentioning as the gold standard of hidden meanings.

The happy face in the Goodwill Industries logo is echoed in the use of the lowercase “g” in the title. Putting the goodwill into, uh, Goodwill.

This clever design fora London bar by Stylo Design was constructed with a typeface derived entirely from sections of the numeral 8.

The logo for the Hartford Whalers is three-fold: the letter “H” for Hartford, “W” for Whalers, and a whale tail to cap it off.

This design by Josiah Jost riffs on the classic film reel shape to suggest a more spook-like figure. Perhaps he’s a 90s horror movie buff.

Look, that Australian lady is doing Kingfisher in the shape of the continent! Or country. Or continent. Or whatever you want to call Australia.

We are in no way condoning this pink and blue atrocity, but please note the “31” embedded in the first part of the Baskin Robbins logo. You know, for all the flavors.

Bonus: The beauty is in the negative space on this logo for Charleston photographer Kevin Hoth, designed by Fuzzco. The interplay between the positive and negative shapes, which can be printed in white or as an image layer, subtly spells out the photographer’s last name.

Please and thank you: tip us off to other hidden logos in the comments.