Famous hidden design logos – can you spot them?

There is an arrow in the FedEx logo. (If you’ve never noticed, take a look and get ready to blow out.)

The clever use of negative space between the last two letters has won the logo of several awards and makes it one of the most effective ever created. Design guru Stephen Bayley put it on his list 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 idea of ​​the arrow came to us the furthest,” said Lyndon, the leader, who designed the logo in a 1994 email interview. “But in an internal critique amidst researching the logo, I was intrigued by a design that had very tightly spaced letters.”

The leader and his team in Landor Associates, a consulting firm tasked with re-creating the FedEx brand identity, developed more than 400 versions of the logo, before noticing that an uppercase letter “E” and a lowercase letter “X” created an arrow proposal.

“After a few days, I realized that if a true arrow could be introduced into letter shapes, it could subtly suggest a reliable movement from point A to point B,” the Leader said.


Still can’t see the arrow? Scroll right to detect it.

Credit: FedEx. FedEx

The power of the arrow, Leader believes, is simply that a hidden bonus, not seeing it, does not diminish the impact of the logo itself. But how many people actually see it without telling them where it is?

“The prevailing notion is – I’ve heard – that perhaps less than one in five people find a hidden arrow without help. But I can’t tell you how many people have told me how much fun they ask others if they can? Spot something in the logo,” Leader said.

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More than an arrow

The same company that designed the FedEx logo created another one that brilliantly uses negative space, the NorthWest Airlines logo that was used from 1989 to 2003 (the Northwest merged with Delta in 2008). The circle and arrow create a compass that points narrowly to the northwest. But the arrow, along with the “N” mark, also creates a “W” by which part of the left leg is removed.

“The practice of hiding elements is common to all visual communications, not just logos. It is as old as the design of the logos themselves, but probably reached its peak in the 1970s, when supposedly witty visual and verbal analogies became central to graphic design practices. great ideas, ”said Paul McNeil, typographic designer and lecturer at London School of Communication. The principles of optical illusion used in these designs, he argues, are based on the psychology of sight and Gestalt theory, which explores the brain ‘s ability to create entire shapes from lines, shapes and curves.

Sometimes the hidden element fits so well into the logo design that they can only be seen if they are prominent, like a bear hidden in a Toblerone logo.

See a bear in the mountains? Credit: Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images North America / Getty Images for NYCWFF

But is this an effective logo design strategy? “On the one hand, yes, because these logos seek to identify a branded product or service in a very economical and immediate way using humor to appeal to a positive response,” McNeil said. But today, he said, there is a trend towards a simpler and more direct design, which is evident from the logos of many large corporations like Facebook and Google.

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McNeil’s favorite logo is a design by Gianni Bortolotti for a missing Italian company called ED – Elettro Domestici (“electrical appliances”). By simply using the letter “ED” and negative space, it elegantly shapes the shape of the electrical plug.

“It’s a constraint model without any redundant elements,” McNeil said.

The ED logo doubles as an electrical plug. Credit: from logolog.co

IBM logo Paul Rand it’s also pretty remarkable – its exchange of positive and negative forms is incredibly subtle and evocative. But I should say it is ancient Yin Yang symbol it will always far surpass any other visual sign of this kind. “

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