Famous logos with hidden designs – can you see them?

Famous logos with hidden designs - can you see them?

There is a hidden arrow in the FedEx logo. (If you have never noticed before, take a look and prepare to be impressed.)

The clever use of negative space between the last two letters has earned the logo several awards and makes it one of the most effective ever created. Design guru Stephen Bayley included it in his list of 20 designs that defined the modern world, calling it “one of the happiest accidents in the history of graphic design.”

It was, in fact, an accident. “The furthest thing from our minds was the idea of ​​an arrow,” said Lindon Leader, who designed the logo in 1994, in an email interview. “But in an internal criticism halfway through the logo scan, I was intrigued by a design that had widely spaced letters.”

Leader and his team in Landor Associates, the consulting firm that was tasked with reinventing FedEx’s brand identity, developed more than 400 versions of the logo, before noticing that putting a capital “E” and a lowercase “X” together created the suggestion of an arrow.

“After a few days, I realized that if a genuine arrow could be inserted into the letter shapes, it could subtly suggest going from point A to point B reliably, with speed and precision,” Leader said.

Fedex_Logo

Still can’t see the arrow? Swipe right to reveal it.

Credits: FedEx. FedEx

The power of the arrow, Leader thinks, is simply that it’s a hidden bonus, and not seeing doesn’t reduce the impact of the logo itself. But how many people actually see it without knowing where it is?

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“The prevailing notion is, I have heard, that perhaps fewer than one in five people find the hidden arrow unaided. But I can’t say how many people have told me how much fun it is to ask others if they can spot something in the logo,” said the leader.

More than an arrow

The same company that designed the FedEx logo created another that makes brilliant use of negative space, the NorthWest Airlines logo used from 1989 to 2003 (Northwest merged with Delta in 2008). The circle and arrow create a compass that points correctly to the northwest. But the arrow, along with the “N”, also creates a “W” that has part of his left leg removed.

“The practice of hiding elements is common to all visual communications, not just logos. It is as old as the practice of logo design itself, but probably peaked in the 1970s, when the clever analogies were allegedly Visual and verbal became central to graphic design practice: the era of the big idea, “Paul McNeil, type designer and professor at the London College of Communication, said in an email. The principles of optical illusion used in these designs, he argues, are based on the psychology of vision and Gestalt theory, which explores the brain’s ability to create entire shapes from lines, shapes, and curves.

Sometimes the hidden element blends so well into a logo design that it can only be seen if it is pointed, like the hidden bear in the Toblerone logo.

Do you see the bear inside the mountain? Credit: Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images North America / Getty Images for NYCWFF

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But is this an effective logo design strategy? “On one hand, yes, because these logos seek to identify a brand product or service very cheaply and immediately using humor to invoke a positive response,” said McNeil. But today, he said, there is a trend toward more direct and more direct design, as evidenced by the logos of many major corporations like Facebook and Google.

McNeil’s favorite logo is the design by Gianni Bortolotti for a defunct Italian company called ED – Elettro Domestici (Italian “appliances”). Simply by using the letters “ED” and negative space, it elegantly forms the shape of an electrical plug.

“It’s a constraint model with no superfluous elements,” said McNeil.

The ED logo works like an electrical outlet. Credit: from logolog.co

Paul Rand IBM’s logo It’s also quite remarkable: their exchange of positive and negative forms is incredibly subtle and evocative. But I would have to say that the old Yin yang symbol it will always far exceed any other visual sign of this type. “

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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