13 Genius Logos With Creative (And Hidden) Symbolism

In our blog A Sneak Peek Into The Logo Design Process we discussed what makes a logo great. As a reminder, the three attributes for a good logo are: 

  1. Appropriateness for the industry
  2. Distinctness
  3. Simplicity 

The logos below accomplish all three of these requirements, making them truly genius logos. Though, what sets these logos apart is the fact that they contain hidden messages that speak to the core of the specific companies they stand for. Let’s dive into some of the most genius logos out in our world today.

1. Adidas


Adidas has a few hidden elements both in their name and logo. The name Adidas was originally meant to stand for “All Day I Dream About Soccer”. The word “soccer” was later changed to “sports” for an all-inclusive approach. 

The logo itself is a metaphor for determination. The three stripes in the logo are meant to represent a mountain that must be climbed. Being a sports company, the use of this metaphor is extremely appropriate.

2. Amazon

amazon genius logos

Most everyone can see the smile in the Amazon logo, which represents how they hope to make their customers feel. However, there’s more to this logo than just a smile. 

The company name refers to the Amazon Rainforest and specifically references the multitude of species found in the region. Nowhere else in the world are there more different types of creatures. The online company adopted this idea as they proudly sell the largest variety of products. The designer illustrated this fact with the yellow smile. The smile also doubles as an arrow; showing Amazon sells everything from A to Z. This is definitely one of our favorite genius logos on this list!

3. Baskin Robbins

baskin robbins

To the naked eye, you may only notice the “BR” in the Baskin Robbins logo. However, when you look closely, you can see the number 31 in pink. Baskin Robbins is best known for its famous 31 ice cream flavors, which is why adding 31 to their logo was such a genius idea. Plus, the number 31 is meant to show that people should be able to enjoy ice cream every day of the month. How creative!

4. Beats by Dre

beats by dre genius logos

While the “b” in the center of the circle is meant to stand for the company name Beats by Dre; the white letter is not the only thing happening in this logo. Because the company specializes in over-the-ear headphones, the white “b” is also meant to demonstrate headphones on a listener’s head. The red circle is the person listening to music. This logo is extremely simple yet packs a punch when it comes to messaging.

5. BMW

BMW logo

The origin of the BMW logo is actually a controversial one. On one account, the blue and white checker is meant to represent a plane’s propeller spinning against a blue sky. This is because BMW got its start building motors for aircraft. 

The other speculation is that the blue and white is meant to pay homage to the free state of Bavaria, where the company started. The Bavarian flag is misconfigured in the logo because direct national sovereignty was prohibited due to the Trademark Act. It is said that the creator incorrectly configured the colors to stay within the law while still keeping its relationship with Bavaria evident. But which meaning is more likely?

6. Cisco

cisco genius logos

Cisco created its name from the city it calls home: San Francisco. With that in mind, the blue lines were created to symbolize the golden gate bridge while also showcasing what they do in terms of signal strength.

7. FedEx

fedex genius logos

Most of you probably know the secret behind the FedEx logo. But for those that do not, the designer sneakily hid an arrow in this logo to represent FedEx moving your packages from one place to another. The hidden arrow is located using the negative space between the “E” and “x”. Can you spot it?

8. Goodwill

goodwill genius logos

The logo for Goodwill is comprised of a blue box with a lowercase “g” on the left. The G, standing for Goodwill, also creates the visual of a smiling face. The face itself symbolizes the many faces of self-sustaining people within Goodwill. And the smile is meant to represent self-respect and independence—qualities that are outcomes of Goodwill’s mission to inspire hope and self-confidence in people. 

9. LG

LG logo

Another one of the many genius logos that uses a smiling face is LG. The logo is meant to look like a smiling face while also spelling LG within the figure. The circle is meant to represent the world, future, youth, humanity and technology. LG’s goal is to link technology and humanity and their logo symbolizes that.

10. London Symphony Orchestra

LSO genius logos

For such a simple mark, this logo is packed with meaning. The mark, for starters, spells out LSO which stands for London Symphony Orchestra. The letters however, are written in a way to form a conductor waving his arms in front of the orchestra. In addition, the thicks and thins and upward direction of the logo represents the free flow of music and a crescendo respectively. The simplicity of this logo is solely on the surface.

11. NBC

NBC logo

The history of NBC’s logo is quite an interesting one. The peacock logo was created back when color TV was becoming more and more popular. NBC wanted to flaunt their involvement in the new color programming, and a peacock is known for having a variety of colors. Later, the number of feathers were reduced to six, representing the different departments of the Television broadcasting company.

12. Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines genius logos

Though Northwest Airline has since changed their logo, the old logo was packed with hidden symbolism. The icon was comprised of three elements: an N, a circle, and an arrow. The arrow and circle were created in tangion to form a compass that points Northwest. You may believe that the N stands for Northwest Airlines, and you’d be right. However, the arrow and the N also form a W creating a NW together. The new logo features the compass pointing towards NW but has dropped the rest of the hidden elements.

13. Pittsburgh Zoo

Pittsburgh Zoo logo

This logo features hidden symbolism within the negative space of the logo. The primary image in black features a tree to represent the forest and all its inhabitants. On either side of the tree, the faces of a gorilla and a lion appears in the negative space.

What Does Your Logo Say About You?

When branding your company, it’s not always easy to think of an out-of-the-box logo that shares who you are and what you do. Here at Pinckney, we understand what it takes to make creative, one-of-a-kind, genius logos.

Whether your business is just starting out, or you’re looking to re-brand, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help find simplicity and symbolism in every part of your business!

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Content originally published on August 18, 2014. Content refreshed on July 10, 2019 by Matt Gorlaski.