Advertisement
UK markets closed
  • NIKKEI 225

    37,438.61
    +370.26 (+1.00%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    16,511.69
    +287.55 (+1.77%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    83.02
    -0.12 (-0.14%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    2,344.50
    -69.30 (-2.87%)
     
  • DOW

    38,280.36
    +293.96 (+0.77%)
     
  • Bitcoin GBP

    53,701.77
    +1,271.88 (+2.43%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,401.02
    -4.97 (-0.35%)
     
  • NASDAQ Composite

    15,475.10
    +193.09 (+1.26%)
     
  • UK FTSE All Share

    4,362.60
    +66.19 (+1.54%)
     

Famous logos with hidden meanings – can you spot them?

Hidden brand messages

<p>Twin Design/Shutterstock</p>

Twin Design/Shutterstock

Instantly recognisable, the world's most famous company logos are pretty much imprinted on our brains. But although you might see them every day, many contain hidden secrets that have probably escaped your radar.

Read on to discover 33 of the most intriguing...

Starbucks

<p>Starbuck</p>

Starbuck

Ever wondered while you were ordering your chai latte why on earth Starbucks chose a mermaid for its logo? The founders named the company after a character in the nautical novel Moby-Dick and, keen to push the seafaring theme, opted for a two-tailed siren design based on a 16th-century Norse woodcut.

Amazon

<p>Amazon</p>

Amazon

It may be glaringly obvious to some people, but it's easy to miss the meaning behind the arrow that underscores the Amazon logo. The arrow, in the shape of a smile, points from A to Z to imply that the company is a friendly, welcoming one-stop-shop that stocks everything money can buy.

Sony Vaio

<p>Sony</p>

Sony

One for the math geeks, Sony's Vaio logo is a masterclass in clever icon design but its meaning may have gone over your head. The 'V' and 'A' form an analogue symbol, while the 'I' and 'O' combine to make a binary digital signal, neatly representing Sony's transition from analogue to digital.

Pepsi

<p>Courtesy PepsiCo</p>

Courtesy PepsiCo

In March 2023, Pepsi unveiled a brand-new logo to tie in with the soft drink brand's upcoming 125th anniversary.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a press statement about the new-look branding, Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo's Chief Design Officer, said: "Pepsi is a shining example of a brand that has consistently reinvented itself over 125 years to remain a part of pop culture and a part of people's lives... We designed the new brand identity to connect future generations with our brand's heritage, marrying distinction from our history with contemporary elements to signal our bold vision for what's to come."

Pepsi notes that the new design features the color black to show "the brand's commitment to Pepsi Zero Sugar in the future", as well as a "modern, custom typeface [that] reflects the brand's confidence and unapologetic mindset".

The previous version of the "Pepsi Globe" logo reportedly cost at least $1 million (£810k) to revamp in 2009 and was said to make references to everything from feng shui and Renaissance art to the philosopher Descartes and the architect Le Corbusier. But of course...

Apple

<p>Apple</p>

Apple

Several urban myths are still doing the rounds – that the apple is a tribute to science pioneers Sir Isaac Newton and Alan Turing for example, or it represents the fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Bible. In reality, logo designer Rob Janoff doesn't even remember why he chose the specific shape.

Lacoste

<p>Lacoste</p>

Lacoste

In 1927, world-renowned tennis player and company founder René Lacoste famously wagered for an alligator skin suitcase, and was nicknamed 'The Alligator' by the American press. Translated as 'The Crocodile' by media in his native France, the nickname stuck and the reptile was therefore a natural choice for a logo design when Lacoste launched his first sportswear collection in 1933.

Cisco Systems

<p>Cisco Systems</p>

Cisco Systems

Can't figure out what the vertical lines mean? The clue's in the name. They form an abstract image of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. On their way to register the company, the founding team crossed the famous suspension bridge and decided at that very moment to name their company after the city and so they ended up putting the bridge on the logo.

FC Barcelona

<p>FC Barcelona</p>

FC Barcelona

The world-class soccer club's logo is a homage to Catalonia: the logo showcases the red and yellow stripes of the Catalan flag in the top right-hand corner and the red cross of St George in the top left. St George, aka St Jordi, is the patron saint of Catalonia. The logo also displays the team's colours and a soccer ball motif.

FedEx

<p>FedEx</p>

FedEx

A winner of numerous design awards, FedEx's logo rocks a subtle yet super-clever graphic design trick. The space between the 'E' and the 'x' forms a forward-pointing arrow, which reflects the company's dynamic, forward-thinking ethos.

Toblerone

<p>Toblerone</p>

Toblerone

Ever noticed the bear on the Toblerone logo? Neither had we! The image is hidden within the Matterhorn mountain design and represents Bern, the Swiss city in which the chocolate and nougat bar was first produced, which is thought to have been named after a bear. The Matterhorn is likely to disappear though as the chocolate is no longer manufactured in Switzerland and so the packaging is no longer allowed to feature it under Swiss law.

Unilever

<p>Unilever</p>

Unilever

The Unilever logo is a letter 'U' made up of 24 icons, which each represent a different aspect of the company's values and goals. For instance, the bee signifies the firm's pledge to protect the environment and the heart denotes its commitment to improve people's health and wellbeing.

The CIA

<p>The Central Intelligence Agency</p>

The Central Intelligence Agency

This imposing logo features three potent symbols: the all-powerful eagle, which represents the USA of course; the shield to symbolise protection; and the compass rose with 16 spikes pointing in all directions, which signifies the agency's global intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Wikipedia

<p>WikipedIa</p>

WikipedIa

The world's number one online encyclopaedia has a suitably smart logo: the jigsaw pieces that make up the unfinished globe each feature characters from different writing systems such as the Greek omega and the Latin W. The globe represents Wikipedia's multilingual character and its huge global reach.

Yamaha

<p>Yamaha</p>

Yamaha

The Japanese corporation makes everything from motorcycles to electronics these days, but Yamaha was established in 1887 as the Nippon Gakki Company, a piano and organ reed manufacturer. Hence the logo, which features three piano tuning forks. The forks represent strong technology, production, and sales.

Hermès

<p>Hermès</p>

Hermès

Established in 1831, the prestigious fashion house started out in Paris as a riding harness-maker and didn't sell the handbags, scarves, and ties it's now famous for until the 1920s. The logo, created in the 1950s, depicts a horse and antique Duc carriage to celebrate the equestrian roots of the brand.

Porsche

<p>Porsche</p>

Porsche

Staying with the equestrian theme, Porsche's instantly recognisable logo depicts a black stallion. Wonder why? The logo is based on the coat of arms of the German city of Stuttgart, where the company is headquartered. The horse takes centre stage because the city, which dates back to the year 950, was actually founded as a stud farm.

Lamborghini

<p>Lamborghini</p>

Lamborghini

Founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini, the luxury Italian car maker opted for a bull as its logo as Mr Lamborghini had a bit of a thing for the animals. Born under the sign of Taurus, he was obsessed with bullfighting.

Burberry

<p>Burberry</p>

Burberry

The British firm's waterproof gabardine fabric was revolutionary when it was invented in the late 19th century and company founder Thomas Burberry wanted a logo that reflected the pioneering ethos of the company. Fittingly, the iconic 'Equestrian Knight' was designed in 1902 and boasts a flag emblazoned with the Latin word 'Prorsum', which means 'forwards'.

Le Tour de France

<p>Le Tour de France</p>

Le Tour de France

Joël Guenoun, the designer of the French cycling race's new logo, must have been very pleased with himself when he presented the updated design in 2002. If you look at the 'R' in 'Tour'  you can see that it forms the image of a crouching cyclist, while the orange blob represents the front wheel of the bike.

Audi

<p>Audi</p>

Audi

The interlocking Olympic-style rings on Audi's famous logo beg the question: what do they mean? The rings actually represent the 1932 merger of the four firms that formed the modern company – Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer – and the design was adopted as the new logo during the 1930s.

Asus

<p>Asus</p>

Asus

You may think that the Taiwanese computer company's logo is simply a good use of futuristic Star Wars-like typography. But the firm had something very specific in mind when it created the lettering. The logo is meant to be shaped like Pegasus, the winged horse from Greek mythology that symbolises wisdom. Yes, really.

Dell

<p>Dell</p>

Dell

The Dell logo is a basic affair apart from the slanted 'E'. The company's founder Michael Dell started his business with the aim to "turn the world on its ear". When creatives from design firm Siegel+Gale devised the company logo in 1984, they decided to represent this by slanting the letter 'E'.

Cologne Zoo

<p>Kölner Zoo</p>

Kölner Zoo

From a distance, this German zoo's logo resembles an elephant and nothing else. But if you look closer at the design, you can easily pick out a giraffe, rhinoceros and star in the negative space, as well as two triangular shapes that symbolise the twin spires of nearby Cologne Cathedral.

Beats by Dre

<p>Beats by Dre</p>

Beats by Dre

Another masterclass in clever logo design, the Beats by Dre logo includes a lower-case 'b' that also forms an abstract image of a person listening to the must-have headphones. As simple as you can get but super-effective.

Toyota

<p>Toyota</p>

Toyota

The three interlocking oval shapes that make up Toyota's logo may just look like curvy lines to most people, but they actually symbolise the company's core values. The inner ovals represent the relationship between Toyota and its customer base, while the outer oval "signifies the world embracing Toyota". What's more, the shape of every letter in the name 'Toyota' can apparently be found within the logo. You might have to look closely...

BMW

<p>rvlsoft/Shutterstock</p>

rvlsoft/Shutterstock

It's relatively common knowledge that the inner circle of the BMW logo represents the white propellers of a plane against a blue sky, a tribute to the Bavarian Motor Company's early days as an aircraft manufacturer. But that's not the whole story. According to the New York Times, the blue and white also represents the colours of the Bavarian Free State flag.

Levi's

<p>ricochet64/Shutterstock</p>

ricochet64/Shutterstock

The Levi's logo might be instantly recognisable, but have you ever wondered why it's that particular shape? It turns out the wavy design at the bottom of the logo is supposed to mirror the distinctive stitching on the pockets of Levi's jeans.

Paramount

<p>360b/Shutterstock</p>

360b/Shutterstock

Hollywood's longest operating film studio, Paramount has produced some of the world's most famous films and TV shows. The mountain was reportedly designed by company founder William Hodkinson, while the 22 stars that surround it represent the number of actors the studio had signed at the time. On the logo for new streaming service Paramount Plus, the number of stars has been reduced to 13: one for every letter of 'Paramount Plus'.

Domino's Pizza

<p>Yalcin Sonat/Shutterstock</p>

Yalcin Sonat/Shutterstock

Similarly, have you ever wondered why there are three dots on the Domino's logo? Apparently, the logo designers chose three to reflect the fact that the pizza chain had three locations, with the idea that more dots could be added when new outlets were opened. The company clearly abandoned that idea, and we can see why. With tens of thousands of stores around the world today, the logo might not have had enough room for them all...

Museum of London

<p>Courtesy museumoflondon.org.uk</p>

Courtesy museumoflondon.org.uk

At first, you might assume the Museum of London's vibrant logo is simply a way of standing out – but in fact, the colourful outlines pay a subtle tribute to the history of England's capital. Each outline represents the boundaries of London as the city has grown over time, reflecting its dynamic past.

Alfa Romeo

<p>Alfa Romeo</p>

Alfa Romeo

A snake chowing down on a human isn't exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a car manufacturer's logo. Alfa Romeo's bizarre logo, which was created in 1910, depicts the man-eating Biscone serpent as well as a red cross, heraldic symbols strongly associated with the Italian city of Milan, where the car firm was founded.

Barclays

<p>Barclays</p>

Barclays

The venerable bank's 'spread eagle' emblem dates from the late 17th century when John Freame, one of the forefathers of the institution, hung a sign outside his business in London's Lombard Street depicting the bird of prey, which symbolises strength and far-sightedness. In those days most people were illiterate, so pictures were often used on signs instead of text.

Continental

<p>Courtesy continential-tires.com</p>

Courtesy continential-tires.com

It might be immediately obvious to some, but others might struggle to spot the hidden symbol in the logo of German tyre company Continental. Look closer at the 'C' and 'O'; together, they form the outline of a tyre.

Now see the logo redesigns that worked... and those that really didn't