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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? Their logos each hide an unbelievable code.

Baskin Robbins


What We Thought: Who cares … it’s ice cream!

Wrong! While stuffing our faces, we missed the 31 in the initials, as in the number of flavors the company began offering in 1953—one for every day of the month.

Amazon


What We Thought: The grin under the letters “amaz” depicts CEO Jeff Bezos smiling at all the merchandise his company is moving.

Wrong! The arrow broadcasts the wide variety of stuff—from A to Z—to be had on Amazon. These are famous company names you’re most likely pronouncing all wrong.

Apple


What We Thought: They ripped off the Bible, the bitten apple symbolizing the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Wrong! The designer made the bite mark for scale, so that a smaller logo would still look like an apple and not a cherry.

FedEx


What We Thought: Honestly, we thought it just read FedEx.

Wrong! Look again, in the space between the E and the x. Yeah, it’s an arrow pointing forward, perhaps to suggest speedy delivery.

Tobleronevia Toblerone

Toblerone


What We Thought: Mmmmm … a mountain of chocolate …

Wrong! Hey, what’s that bear doing on the side of that mountain of chocolate? It’s the official symbol of the Swiss town of Bern, the original home of Toblerone. Learn the fascinating origins of these well-known companies.

Dell


What We Thought: The E was on its side because someone thought it looked nice.

Wrong! Michael Dell announced that the goal of his company was to “turn the world on its ear.” So it’s been said he started with an E.

Wikipediavia Wikipedia

Wikipedia


What We Thought: The Wiki­pedia people were so busy collecting information, they forgot to finish their logo.

Wrong! 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 microsystemsvia Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems


What We Thought: A lot of U’s, as in, “U should buy Sun products.”

Wrong! Turn the logo around, and the Sun is always there.

tostitosvia Tostitos

Tostitos

What We Thought: The dot over the “i” was used to give the logo a pop of color.

Wrong! The dot over the i 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.

Goodwill

What We Thought: The logo contains a smiling face to let us know how good it feels to clean out your house and donate items you no longer use.

Wrong! The face is actually just a larger version of the g in the word ‘goodwill’ that appears at the bottom of the logo.

Tour-de-Francevia Le Tour de France

Tour de France

What We Thought: The yellow circle represented the sun.

Wrong! The yellow circle is actually a bicycle wheel. The “R” in “tour” is a person, and the “O” in “tour” is the back bicycle wheel.

London Symphony Orchestra

What We Thought: The three-letter abbreviation was written out in a fancy script font.

Wrong! The logo not only is an abbreviation of the London Symphony Orchestra, but it also represents an orchestra conductor. The “L” and “O” are his arms. We bet you had no idea that these famous paintings were also hiding hidden messages.

Wendy'svia Wendy's

Wendy’s

What We Thought: How does Wendy get such bounce to those pigtails?

Wrong! What we should have been looking at is the secret word hidden in the collar of Wendy’s blouse. Look closely and you will notice the word “Mom” scrolling in the old-fashioned-looking top. It’s a nod to the chain’s efforts to prove a home-cooked feel to their food. Check out the first locations of your favorite fast-food restaurants.

LGvia LG

LG

What We Thought: There are the L and the G cleverly configured into a smiley face, presumably the face of a happy LG customer.

Wrong! 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? Check out what some company logos looked like when they were young businesses.

Hershey’s Kisses

What We Thought: Two overlapping Hershey’s Kisses really just make us crave chocolate big time.

Wrong! Look carefully because this logo doesn’t contain merely two kisses, but three! If you look between the K and the I in Kisses and tilt your head towards the left, you’ll see a sideways kiss planted firmly between the two letters.

via Pinterest

Pinterest

What We Thought: It’s pretty cut and dry here with a capital P placed in the middle of a bright red circle.

Wrong! Their signature “P” also doubles as an illustration of a map pin. According to CNN, 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. Logos don’t just have hidden messages, find out which company names also have secret meanings.

formula 1via Formula 1

Formula One

What We Thought: With this earlier Formula One logo, you get a strong racing flare with the bold “F” and modern red flame motif. We feel the need for speed.

Wrong! Much like how the FedEx logo uses negative space to its advantage, so does Formula One. At first glance, you see the black “F” but if you look in the middle, the “1” in Formula One is clearly present in white.

Cisco

What We Thought: Pretty simplistic if you ask us. The networking company’s name is plain as day under a line motif. Easy peasy.

Wrong! There’s so much more to this logo than initially 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! Here’s why so many company logos are red.

roxyvia Roxy

Roxy

What We Thought: It’s perfectly pink and girly with a decorative white heart to appeal to the fashion line’s female clientele.

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

The Bronx Zoo

What We Thought: Giraffes! Birds! Let’s save the date for a trip to the zoo.

Wrong! 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. Check out the fascinating origins of these company names.

Milwaukee Brewers

What We Thought: That’s a mighty fine baseball mitt they have to catch that ball.

Wrong! This logo has been updated, but the Milwaukee Brewers still sell this version on gear and it’s popular with fans—probably because the design gurus didn’t supply just any old mitt. A lower case “m” and “b” form the glove, using the team’s initials in a creative way.

unilvervia Unilver

Unilever

What We Thought: Considering the Unilever logo is everywhere on the company’s wide range of products, you’d think we would have looked deeper than only seeing the letter “U” formed using a decorative motif.

Wrong! Upon further inspection of the Unilever “U,” the logo uses symbols related to its extensive product offerings. That’s a pretty cool way to encapsulate what the company covers under its vast umbrella. Check out these vintage health ads that will take you back to the 1960s.

Hope for African Children Initiative

What We Thought: There lies the continent of Africa in white surrounded by shades of yellow and orange to make it pop.

Wrong! Yes, the logo definitely includes the outline of Africa, but if you look at the orange and yellow sections carefully, they are put there purposefully. In those areas, you’ll identify the silhouettes of a child and an adult.

adidasvia Adidas

Adidas

What We Thought: With its company name in lowercase bold type, we always paid much more attention to the word “Adidas” than anything else in the logo, to be honest.

Wrong! Those diagonal stripes have meaning: They are intended to look like a mountain, the type of mountain an elite athlete would push him or herself to climb against all odds. See how female artists tweaked some companies’ controversial ads.

Beats by Dre

What We Thought: The stellar sound quality of the Beats by Dre headphones and speakers just speak for themselves, right? So this simple logo is just a lowercase “b” followed by the brand name.

Wrong! The circle that encapsulates the “b” actually represents a human head. The “b” is meant to represent someone wearing the headphones.

 

Pittsburgh zoovia Pittsburgh Zoo

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

What We Thought: Well, that’s a pretty tree. And look at those birds!

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

vaiovia Vaio

Sony Vaio

What We Thought: At first glance, we thought someone just really wanted to get fancy with their fonts for the word “Vaio.”

Wrong! 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

What We Thought: Look at that company name written in bright red cursive. It’s cute and a little country.

Wrong! The font has certainly become integral to the Chick-fil-A identity, but note the chicken incorporated into the “C.” Perfect for a fast-food chain that deals strictly in chicken. Find out the restaurants you didn’t know had changed their names.

IBMvia IBM

IBM

What We Thought: Initially, we assumed the IBM logo was supposed to look similar to if it had been run off one of the world’s primitive computer printers, horizontal lines and all.

Wrong! Those horizontal lines symbolize the equal sign, representing IBM’s dedication to equality.

Gillettevia Gillette

Gillette

What We Thought: The font in “Gillette” looks sporty, with the slanted style lending itself to the notion of speed.

Wrong! Those slanted letters are angled that way to give off a “razor sharp” feeling. The “G” and the “i” in Gillette have been cut to be symbolic of the brand’s signature product. Here’s how your favorite stores got their names.

Kölner Zoo

What We Thought: With a quick glance the German zoo’s logo features an elephant with a star for its eye.

Wrong! By now we should know that there’s more than meets the eye to a zoo logo! 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.

via NBC

NBC

What We Thought: It’s a colorful peacock, hence NBC‘s nickname as the Peacock Network.

Wrong! Well, not 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). Also, the peacock’s head is facing right which is meant to symbolize the network’s nod to the future.

washington-capitalsvia Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals

What We Thought: We see a patriotic eagle in red, white, and blue to represent the D.C.-based NHL team.

Wrong! There is an eagle, but so much more. Again utilizing negative space—underneath the bird’s head—you’ll find a silhouette of the Capitol building as a nod to the Washington Capitals hometown.

 

Ray Banvia Ray Ban

Ray-Ban

What We Thought: The company’s name in a sleek font provides a fashion-forward feel.

Wrong! Famous for their beloved sunglasses, Ray-Ban actually incorporates a subtle illustration of a pair of shades in the “B” in “Ban” (just turn your head sideways to see it).

Hyundai

What We Thought: It’s a jazzy-styled “H” for Hyundai, isn’t it? It’s slanted to insinuate speed, or so we thought.

Wrong! This logo is meant to represent two people shaking hands, with the idea being one is a salesperson and the other is a satisfied car customer.

museum of Londonvia Museum of London

Museum of London

What We Thought: A colorful, artsy design backs the museum’s name in white.

Wrong! 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 off with Future Outer London. Pretty cool! Next, check out these famous companies that originally had different names.

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.
Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.