Whether you’re a designer or not, most people are aware that some logos have a hidden element or meaning to them.
These hidden elements can be clear to see, for example Amazon’s smile arrow going from A to Z…
Others are less obvious. For example Museum of London’s logo represents the outline of London through the years.
It’s clear people love discovering something hidden. It isn’t only logos, movies and computer games often contain things to discover.
Having read an article about logos with hidden meanings, my friend Michele asked if I ever do this.
It prompted me to reflect on some of the logos I’ve designed and also how important a deeper meaning in a logo is.
Let’s start with three beautiful examples of well known logos with hidden meaning.
The Tour de France
The cyclist over the yellow front wheel is a little abstract, yet sits perfectly in with the readable but vibrant and fun text.
London Symphony Orchestra
As well as LSO, the logo symbolises a conductors head and arms, one of which holds a baton.
Each individual element represents a different brand or product within the Unilever organisation.
I’m not sure people realise how hard it is to create a logo like the Unilever one, believe me I’ve tried on several occasions!
Let’s take a look at some of my logo designs and see what meanings are behind them.
I’ve picked out three designs that represent a variety of hidden elements or meanings.
First up we have Zero Waste
The design is inspired by the Enso Circle, or Zen circle.
These can be a closed circle, or open. The open or unfinished circle is a sign of imperfection or embracing imperfection.
There are some who feel the Enso circle can symbolise that we get one chance in life. You start, continue and finish, like one stroke of a brush, you can’t go back and erase any mistakes.
Few people would have seen that meaning, but I like the logo, it’s simple, easy to read and memorable. The meaning is a nice extra, symbolising the importance to make a difference while we can.
Next up we have Olivia B Lingerie
Now this is a little more obvious! Or at least I hope it is 🙂
The owner of this independent lingerie boutique wanted a logo with a heart, and a look that gave the feeling of a high-end product and service.
By separating the heart into two shapes I was able to design a logo that shows a lingerie set.
Adding the fringing and bow helped a lot as the top section was difficult to portray a bra at first.
Lastly we have Sussex Harmonisers, an a-cappella singing group
During the research phase of the project I noticed that a treble clef reflected looks like an S.
With a few tweaks, a brush stroke and flecks, we have a logo that looks creative and represents the groups progression.
Does it matter if someone can’t see it’s an S or a flipped treble clef? Not one bit 🙂
This brings me on to my final point, none of this matters as much as you might think, or as much as a Sales Director wants you to think.
The longer I design and work with a wide range of customers, the more I realise that as long as a logo design meets the following criteria, it doesn’t matter what someone can and can’t see.
- Connects with the intended audience
- Flexible across different platforms and media
- Different enough to be classed as individual
- Quickly recognisable
Good or nice to haves
- Connects with the in-house team
- Has a value or meaning attached to it
- Looks visually pleasing
It’s not possible to always force things and design a hidden meaning. Although clever, it isn’t fundamental to designing a great logo.
That said, if you design or receive a logo that is so heart achingly clever it goes viral, or hits national or global press, then I take it all back, what the hell do I know anyway.