Hero-Glyphs: The Stories Behind Famous Logos

December 4, 2017

What's in a logo?

Many people think that a logo is an image that represents the business. They're right to some degree but a logo is usually made up of a few different elements like the glyph, fonts choice, tagline and business name. Depending on what's right for a business, based on the target audience will depend on which of these elements is used but often the thing associated with the logo is the glyph, the little image that will appear on everything your company does.

Over the years many exciting and interesting glyphs have been created for logos. There is a whole area of logo design which is just catering to the use of white space to create a separate image. But, probably the most interesting logos are the ones where the meanings are hidden within the imagery. Today, I'm going to take a look at 5 of these and reveal the hidden messages that no one ever even noticed.


The original Starbucks logo was actually taken from an image from the 15th century of a siren. The sirens, of course, were from Greek mythology and would tempt sailors to the island, much like the coffee company wanted to tempt people through the doors. The original logo from 1971 depicted the siren as a mermaid-like creature with two tales and exposed breasts. In the 1980s this logo was stylized and the breasts covered by long hair, to make the brand more family-friendly. Eventually, that logo was cropped again so you couldn't see that the tales of the siren was spread open, evoking the sexual imagery of desire. The loader that you see today still depicts the two tales on either side of the creature.


Many people think that this is just a stylised tea inside an oval. Others just think that it's a collection of random ovoids. Actually, the Toyota logo was created so that it spelt out the entire company name. If you dissect the ovals at different points, you can actually form every letter from the name "Toyota". Check out the image below.


Despite not being liked by audio professionals, beats headphones have taken the world by storm but the logo isn't just a lower case 'B' in a circle, it also represents the product as it represents a human head wearing headphones. There is also a message in the colour choice, the red of the logo is meant to evoke feelings of passion and vibrance, a perfect choice for a brand tapping into that youth market.

Nintendo Game Cube

A favourite amongst gamers of the time, the Game Cube console sold in his millions but whilst many people saw this logo every single day, they may have missed the symbolism of it. The outside line of the logo is there to represent the letter "G". The in a white space of the logo represents the letter "C". In the centre of the logo, you also have the image of a cube. As well as that, the whole logo forms and isometric cube the size and shape of the console.


This little alligator has been around for ages but most people miss the symbolism for the brand. Actually, it comes from a crocodile skin handbag which was seen in a shop window. The founder of the company said he would purchase the item if you want his upcoming tennis match. Unfortunately, he lost, but this bet meant that the press of the time labelled him "the crocodile". In 1933, Lacoste leverage that name the by placing the logo on a tennis shut. These became incredibly popular and the brand grew.

Every company, every brand and every logo has a story behind it. Many have a symbology that we might miss at first glance (such as the Adidas mountain representing the struggle all sports men and women have to go through for the sport) but, when you take a much deeper look, you will find that a lot of these tiny images convey messages often missed.

So, what can you take away from this?

Everybody asking for a new logo always want something that's fresh, new and "with it" but that isn't really what you should be looking for if you want to brand your company. You need to know who your target market is. It's no good producing a logo that appeals to teenagers if your target market are in their late 20s. What you need to do is find a logo that ties into your company's call values and beliefs. If it can contain a clever, almost optical illusion, trick with a clever use of white space, you are likely to have a logo that many people will be talking about for years to come.

But, it's also important to remember that your logo also needs to be memorable. Apple's logo, for example, could easily have been the silhouette of an Apple without the bite taken out. But, it looks unremarkable. The missing bite gives the logo character and uniqueness and it drives the meaning even deeper (because computers use bytes, of course). Always think about how you can go the extra mile for your business and produce a logo that is not just a boring glyph but one that speaks to your core audience and becomes an unmistakable mark of your brand.

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Steve Mellor