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36 Hidden Messages in Company Logos You See All the Time

What do Apple, Amazon, Baskin Robbins, and Toblerone have in common? They have hidden messages in their logos—here's what they are and what they mean.

Collage of logos with magnifying glassRD.com, Courtesy brands (12), Getty Images

Did you know these logos have hidden messages?

As consumers, we see company logos daily. If you stop at 7-Eleven, you see its logo as soon as you pull in. If you make a pit stop at Dunkin’ for coffee, you’ll carry its logo on your coffee cup. Logos are everywhere, but have you ever stopped and really looked at them? There’s more to them than meets the eye.

Turns out, many companies have hidden messages in their logos. Companies like Starbucks, Amazon, and even Goodwill strategically designed their logos to convey subtle messages about things like company values and products. Logos can also try to subconsciously influence buying behavior, which partially explains why so many logos are red. Read on to discover the hidden messages in logos you see all the time.

Baskin Robbins LogoCourtesy Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins is known for its ice cream, but did you know there’s a hidden message in the logo? Look closely, and you’ll see the number 31 in the initials—as in the number of flavors the company began offering in 1953. Why 31 flavors? It’s one for every day of the month, so you can try something new every day. Yum! The company recently unveiled a new logo (its first major refresh since 2006), but don’t worry—you can still spot the 31 in it.

amazon logoCourtesy Amazon

Amazon

Amazon is a staple in many online shoppers’ lives, but have you ever wondered what that little arrow at the bottom of the logo means? It’s not just a fun design element—the arrow broadcasts the wide variety of stuff (from A to Z) sold on Amazon. Here are some of the strangest things you can get on Amazon—and we won’t judge if you add them to your cart.

apple logoCourtesy Apple

Apple

Why does the tech giant’s iconic logo have a bite taken out of it? The reason is pretty practical. The designer made the bite mark for scale so that a smaller logo would still look like an apple and not a cherry. Don’t miss these things Apple employees won’t tell you—including the scoop on refurbished gadgets.

fedex express logoCourtesy FedEx

FedEx

The FedEx logo looks pretty normal at first glance, so it’s easy to miss the hidden message. Look at the space between the E and the x—it’s an arrow pointing forward, perhaps to suggest speedy and accurate delivery.

Toblerone logoCourtesy Toblerone

Toblerone

If you’ve snagged this delicious Swiss chocolate bar in your day, you’ve seen the mountain on its logo. But wait, what’s that on the left side of the mountain? That’s right: It’s a bear. The bear is the official symbol of the Swiss town of Bern, the original home of Toblerone. Learn the fascinating origins of these well-known company names.

dell logoCourtesy Dell

Dell

The sideways E in the Dell logo is more than just a creative way to set it apart from other logos. Michael Dell announced that the goal of his company was to “turn the world on its ear.” It’s been said he started with an E.

Wikipedia logoCourtesy Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a massive source of information, and there’s a reason the site’s puzzling logo isn’t totally complete. The unfinished globe, made of puzzle pieces with characters from various languages, represents the “incomplete nature” of the company’s mission to be the go-to information portal—and the fact that a site built on user submissions can never be complete.

sun microsystems logoCourtesy Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems

The hidden message in this logo is very clever from a marketing and branding perspective. If you turn the logo around, the word “Sun” is always there. Don’t forget to check out these hidden meanings in everyday objects.

tostitos logoCourtesy Tostitos

Tostitos

You may have thought the dot over the “i” was used to give the logo a pop of color, but it’s actually part of a hidden—and creative—message. The red dot is actually a bowl of salsa. The two T’s are people, and the yellow triangle in between them is a chip. It’s supposed to represent people coming together to share a tasty snack of chips and salsa (or queso, if that’s what you prefer).

goodwill logoCourtesy Goodwill

Goodwill

You may assume the logo contains a smiling face to represent how good it feels to clean your house, donate items, and recycle clothes you no longer use. But the face is actually just a larger version of the g in the word “Goodwill,” which appears at the bottom of the logo. Who knew?

Tour-de-France logoCourtesy Le Tour de France

Tour de France

Does the yellow circle represent the sun? Nope! It’s actually a bicycle wheel. The “R” in “tour” is a person, and the “O” in “tour” is the back bicycle wheel.

london symphony orchestra logoCourtesy London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

We thought the three-letter abbreviation was written out in a fancy script font—but we were wrong. Not only is the logo an abbreviation of the London Symphony Orchestra, but it also represents a conductor. The “L” and the “O” are the arms.

Wendy's logoCourtesy Wendy's

Wendy’s

At first glance, the Wendy’s logo looks pretty straightforward—but there is a hidden message in it. More specifically, there’s a secret word hidden in the collar of Wendy’s blouse. Look closely, and you will notice the word “Mom” written in the collar of her top. Many culinary sleuths assumed it was a nod to the chain’s efforts to give food a home-cooked feel, but higher-ups at Wendy’s say the secret message was actually unintentional. Check out the first locations of your favorite fast-food restaurants.

LG logoCourtesy LG

LG

Are the L and the G cleverly configured into a smiley face, presumably the face of a happy LG customer? Nope. Eagle-eyed folks point out that if you tilt your head to the side, that smiley face actually looks like a modified version of Pacman. Perhaps an ode to the beloved arcade game character and the earlier days of personal technology? That’s pure speculation. According to LG, the logo stands for the world, future, youth, humanity, and technology.

hershey's kisses logoCourtesy Hershey's Kisses

Hershey’s Kisses

These two overlapping Hershey’s Kisses make us crave chocolate big time. But if you look carefully at the logo, you’ll notice it doesn’t contain only two kisses. There are three! Look between the “K” and the “I” in the word “Kisses.” If you tilt your head to the left, you’ll see a sideways kiss planted firmly between the two letters. Fun fact: Hershey’s Kisses are one of the most famous products still made in America.

pinterest logoCourtesy Pinterest

Pinterest

You may think this logo is pretty cut and dry here, with a capital “P” placed in the middle of a bright red circle. But the company’s signature “P” also doubles as an illustration of a map pin. According to CNBC, one of the designers of the Pinterest logo didn’t want to add the visual of an actual pin, but the final look came together organically.

formula 1 logoCourtesy Formula 1

Formula One

With this earlier Formula One logo, you get a strong racing flare with the bold “F” and modern red flame motif, and you may feel the need for speed. But just as the FedEx logo uses negative space to its advantage, so does Formula One. Look between the “F” and the red flames. The “1” in Formula One is clearly present in white.

cisco logoCourtesy Cisco

Cisco

Initially, this logo looks pretty simplistic. The networking company’s name is plain as day under a line motif. But there’s more to this logo than meets the eye. According to Canva, those blue stripes represent an electromagnet as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, paying homage to Cisco’s namesake San Francisco. Once you see the bridge in those lines, you can’t unsee it!

roxy logoCourtesy Roxy

Roxy

As Quiksilver’s female fashion line, the logo was indeed designed to attract its desired demographic. But a closer look reveals so much more. The Roxy heart consists of two Quiksilver logos rotated to form the shape.

The Bronx Zoo LogoCourtesy The Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo’s older logo is incredibly sweet when all you see are two giraffes and a few birds, but check out the negative space between the animals’ legs. There, you’ll find the New York City skyline, making the logo even more perfect.

mke brewers logoCourtesy Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers

This logo has been updated, but the Milwaukee Brewers still sell gear with the design. It’s popular with fans, probably because the design gurus didn’t supply just any old mitt. A lowercase “M” and “B” form the glove, using the team’s initials in a creative way.

unilver logoCourtesy Unilver

Unilever

Considering the Unilever logo is everywhere, you’d think we would have looked deeper at this interesting design. Most people just notice the letter “U” and its decorative motif. But upon further inspection, you’ll see the Unilever “U” uses symbols related to its extensive product offerings. That’s a pretty cool way to encapsulate what the company covers under its wide umbrella.

hope for african children initiative logoCourtesy Hope for African Children Initiative

Hope for African Children Initiative

Yes, the logo definitely includes the outline of Africa, but if you look at the orange and yellow sections carefully, you’ll identify the silhouettes of a child and an adult.

adidas logoCourtesy Adidas

Adidas

With “Adidas” in lowercase, bold type, most people focus their attention on the company name. But those diagonal stripes have meaning: They are intended to look like a mountain—the type of mountain elite athletes would push themselves to climb against all odds.

Beats by dre logoCourtesy Beats by Dre

Beats by Dre

The stellar sound quality of Beats by Dre speakers and headphones speaks for itself, right? So you may think this simple logo is just a lowercase “B.” Not entirely. The circle that encapsulates the “B” actually represents a human head. The “B” is meant to represent someone wearing the headphones.

Pittsburgh zoo logoCourtesy Pittsburgh Zoo

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

The negative space in logos has so much potential! If you look at the white areas of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium logo, you’ll find a gorilla and a lion looking each other in the eye.

sony vaio logoCourtesy Sony Vaio

Sony Vaio

At first glance, we thought a designer got fancy with fonts when crafting the word “Vaio,” but there’s meaning behind that original look. Sony wanted the logo to represent the integration of analog and digital technology. The “V” and “A” were drawn to show an analog wave. The “I” and “O” are there to represent binary code. For those not tech-savvy, binary is a computer language comprised of ones and zeros.

chick fil a logoCourtesy Chick-Fil-A

Chick-fil-A

Some think the company name, written in bright red cursive, is simply cute and a little country. The font has certainly become integral to the Chick-fil-A identity, but note the chicken incorporated into the “C.” Perfect for a beloved fast-food chain that deals strictly in chicken.

IBM logoCourtesy IBM

IBM

The IBM logo looks like it was printed on a primitive printer, horizontal lines and all. That’s not the intention behind the logo, though. Turns out, those horizontal lines symbolize the equal sign, representing IBM’s dedication to equality.

Gillette logoCourtesy Gillette

Gillette

This font looks sporty, with the slanted style lending itself to the notion of speed. Those slanted letters are angled that way to give off a “razor-sharp” feeling. The “G” and the “I” have been cut to symbolize the brand’s signature product. Here’s how your favorite stores got their names.

kolner zoo logoCourtesy Kölner Zoo

Kölner Zoo

The German zoo’s logo features an elephant with a star for its eye. But by now we should know there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to a zoo logo, and the Kölner Zoo logo is no different. In the negative space, you can spot a giraffe and a rhino as well as the two spires that are symbolic of the Cologne Cathedral.

nbc logoCourtesy NBC

NBC

This logo features a colorful peacock, so we thought it referenced NBC‘s nickname as the Peacock Network. Well, we weren’t entirely wrong. It’s definitely a peacock, but the six feathers have meaning: They represent the original six divisions of the network (there are tons more now, but the logo remains the same). Plus, the peacock’s head is facing right, which is meant to symbolize the network’s eye on the future.

washington-capitals logoCourtesy Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals

We see a patriotic eagle in red, white, and blue in this logo for Washington, D.C.’s NHL team. But there’s something hidden you may not have noticed. In the negative space at the bottom, you’ll find a silhouette of the Capitol building, a nod to the team’s hometown.

Ray Ban logoCourtesy Ray-Ban

Ray-Ban

You may think the logo portrays the company’s name in a script font, providing a fashion-forward feel. Famous for its beloved sunglasses, Ray-Ban actually incorporates a subtle illustration of a pair of shades in the “B” (just turn your head sideways to see it).

hyundai logoCourtesy Hyundai

Hyundai

It’s a jazzy-styled “H” for Hyundai, isn’t it? It’s slanted to insinuate speed—or so we thought. This logo is meant to represent two people shaking hands; one is a salesperson, and the other is a satisfied car customer.

museum of London logoCourtesy Museum of London

Museum of London

This logo seems straightforward—a colorful, artsy design serves as a backdrop for the museum’s name. But check this out: The design of the Museum of London logo was created to pay homage to London’s geographical expansion throughout history. It begins with a layer of what Roman London looked like and finishes with Future Outer London. Pretty cool!

Sources:

  • ABC News: “Wendy’s Says Secret Message in Logo ‘Unintentional'”
  • LG: “Brand Identity”
  • CNBC: “13 famous logos with hidden messages”
  • Canva: “50 famous logos with hidden meanings”

Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout the Finger Lakes.