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Hidden Messages In Brand Logos You Probably Never Knew

Written by Hannah McNicholls: Junior Digital Designer.
· 4 minute read

Logos are everywhere from the food we buy to the clothes we wear. Many of us don’t even consider the ideas behind these brand logos, only that they represent a certain brand. Though numerous amounts of them actually have a deep meaning behind the famous symbols people know and love. Let’s examine some of them a bit closer…

Starbucks

So, we start off with Starbucks. This global coffee giant was founded in 1971. Though not many people know the history of the design process that Starbucks went through to get to the brand today. Originally Starbucks was actually called Pequod after a whaling ship in Moby Dick’s Herman Melville’s book. After a big discussion, this then got changed to Starbuck, named after the chief mate on the Pequod.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Many people think the logo is a twin-tailed mermaid, which is half woman and half fish. Though it is actually based on a creature from Greek mythology called a siren, half woman, half bird, which is commonly depicted with two tails or two wings. In Greek mythology, it is said that sirens lured sailors to shipwrecks off the coast of an island in the South Pacific, also sometimes referred to as Starbuck Island. The logo was used by the original Starbucks founders to lure coffee lovers from everywhere.

Toblerone

Toblerone originates from the chocolatier’s family name “Tobler” combined with “torrone”, the Italian word for nougat. It was created in 1908 in the Swiss capital of Bern. The town is known also as the “City of Bears” and features a bear in the coat of arms. Which is probably why a bear can be seen hidden away in the mountain, paying homage to the birthplace of the chocolate. The town is near the Matterhorn mountain of the Alps – which inspired the triangular shape of the unusual bar. Though the founders’ sons have suggested that the triangular shape really originates from a pyramid shape that dancers at the Folies Bergères (a French cabaret hall) formed at the end of a show.

FedEx

So most people know this one.. but it is a great logo that shows that negative space can be used really well. The FedEx logo was designed in 1974 by Lindon Leader, the logo has won over 40 awards internationally!

For those who are unaware, the logo features a rightward pointing arrow that lies between the E and the X. This design was created to subliminally feed thoughts of forward thinking and movement.

Toyota

Toyota is best known as one of the top automotive manufacturers in the world, they have been selling a wide range of vehicles since the company was founded in 1939. Though it might be surprising to know that they didn’t start out selling vehicles. The company  (then known as Toyoda Automatic Loom Works) started out selling textiles and automatic looms. In the early 1930s, however, the Japanese government began urging Toyoda to expand into automobile production in order to supply the nation’s ongoing war with China. Hence the company that we know today as Toyota.

The currently elliptical logo used by Toyota today took five years to develop and was revealed in October 1989 for Toyota’s 50th anniversary.The logo features two perpendicular ovals inside the larger oval to represent the heart of the customer and the heart of the company. They are overlapped to represent a mutually beneficial relationship and trust between each other. The overlapping of the two perpendicular ovals inside the outer oval symbolises “T” for Toyota, as well as a steering wheel, representing the vehicle itself. The outer oval symbolizes the world embracing Toyota. Each oval is contoured with different stroke thicknesses, similar to the “brush” art known in Japanese culture.”

The most obvious shape that can be seen in the badge is the letter “T” but every letter is actually intentionally hidden in there. Its also been suggested that the emblem’s resemblance the eye of a needle. 

Amazon

Founded in 1994, Amazon was once just a little online bookstore. However today its a multi-billion dollar company that sells thousands of products all over the world. The logo that is most recognisable as Amazon today was introduced in 2000.

The Amazon logo is an extremely simple logo and while the arrow may just look like a smile it actually points from a to z. This represents that Amazon sells everything from a to z and the smile on the customers face when they bought a product.

Tour De France

The Tour has been through a few rebrands since its conception in 1903. The current Tour de France logo was created by French designer Joel Guenoun back in 2002 and it’s remained unchanged ever since. The yellow ball some may say is a sun but it also forms part of a cyclist on a bike. The logo is used to reflect the famous yellow jersey awarded to the winner of each stage

Pepsi

Pepsi was actually first referred to as ‘Brad’s drink’, named after the inventor of the drink Caleb Bradham in 1893. However, it was renamed Pepsi a few years later. Pepsi has gone through many logo changes in its history but the one we recognise at Pepsi today was designed in 2008, making the circle more dominant than previous versions. This new logo was completed by the Arnell group for one million dollars.

The Pepsi logo is a simple circle. The colours red, white and blue are intentionally used to represent the American flag, but that’s just the start. The logo is said to also represent the Earth’s magnetic field, feng shui, Pythagoras, geodynamics, the theory of relativity, and plenty more.