Logos play such a large role in the world we live in today. They are splashed all over magazine ads, TV shows, the inside of your refrigerator, everywhere. Because of the constant bombardment, people put on their blinders and become blissfully unaware of this branding.
But that’s where designers come in.
The challenge logo designers face is to not only make a logo that is aesthetically pleasing but is a good representative of the brand as well. Lindon Leader, the designer of the FedEx logo, found this balance through the use of a subliminal message in the corporation’s logo.
Many people have discovered the hidden arrow strategically tucked between the E and x of the FedEx logo. In an interview Leader discussed his decision to incorporate the arrow “as a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx communicative attributes.” When asked about the subtlety of the arrow and its effectiveness, Leader had an interesting answer: “It is a positive-reverse optical kind of thing; either you see it or you don’t. … Not seeing the arrow does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication. … The logo is strong enough to convey clearly FedEx brand positioning.” The benefit of using this subliminal arrow? If people do see it, it’s something they won’t forget, a goal advertisers have been trying to meet since the beginning of time.
Other major corporations have used this subliminal strategy in their logo designs. The Big Ten conference has subtly placed an 11 within the Big Ten to represent the 11 schools of the conference (before Nebraska was added this past year to make the number 12), to bypass changing their name. Similarly, Baskin Robbins takes advantage of the shapes of the B and R in their logo to cleverly incorporate their tagline of 31 flavors.
Amazon has taken its logo to another level as well with a clean logo with a smile/arrow under it. As a smile, the logo is an indication of customer satisfaction with the company and its products. As an arrow going from the a in amazon to the z, the logo tells consumers the website is a one-stop shop for everything from a to z.
As these examples have illustrated, logo design is a complex science. Through both brand identification and the incorporation of subliminal messages, logos can become more effective marketing tools.