25 (mostly) tech company logos with hidden meanings

Some logos are much more than meets the eye.

A company's logo serves many important functions. Over time, a well-designed logo creates familiarity, brand trust, loyalty, and can even become become an signifier of quality. Indeed, it's why Steve Jobs once paid famed designer Paul Rand $100,000 to design the NeXT logo.

What's really interesting is that a number of logos, both in the world of tech and out, contain hidden meanings and symbols that really take creativity to the next level. Here are some of the more interesting examples of hidden meanings within corporate logos. The majority of them are tech-related, but I've tossed in a few non-tech examples simply because they're too impressive to overlook.

Sony VAIO

Sony VAIO notebooks are quality machines that are just as sleek and well-designed as Apple's. The VAIO logo is distinct and widely recognized, but contains some subtle symbolism. The first two letters "V" and "A" are arranged in such a way to represent a basic analogue signal. The "I" and the "O" were designed to look like the numbers one and zero, representing digital binary code.

Amazon

The yellow line in the Amazon logo is much more than a simple take on an uplifting smiley face. If you look closely, you'll note that the arrow starts at the letter 'a' and ends at the letter 'z', signifying that Amazon has everything you might ever want or need, from a to z.

Facebook Places

Though not around in its current form anymore, Facebook Places was a feature meant to rival and mirror the functionality of Foursquare. If you take a look at the logo used for Facebook Places, you'll note that the Facebook location marker is directly laid upon a grid with a noticeable "4" on it. All in all, a clever jab at the company Facebook was going after.

FedEx

Designed in 1996, the FedEx logo is considered an all-time classic. You might have seen the FedEx logo hundreds of times, but did you notice the arrow located between the 'E' and the 'X'? In creating the logo, designer Lindon Leader created an entirely new font in order to get the arrow just right. All in all, this is a masterful use of negative space. As for the importance of the arrow? It's meant to signify speed, precision and accuracy.

Cisco

Founded in San Francisco in 1986, the current Cisco logo was rolled out in 2006 and is rather interesting. The vertical lines are meant to represent San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Bridge. The vertical lines also serve to represent a digital signal. Not surprisingly, the first logo Cisco ever had was, you guessed it, an actual drawing of the Golden Gate Bridge. The name Cisco itself is derived from San Francisco.

Wikipedia

Believe it or not, the Wikipedia logo you might glare at on a daily basis has a hidden meaning. The logo itself is a globe comprised of puzzle pieces with characters taken from an assortment of different languages. The globe, however, is incomplete, representing the "incomplete nature" of Wikipedia's goal to be an online encyclopedia for people versed in any language. It can also represent that Wikipedia, as a site built upon user submissions, is always increasing in breadth, and hence, never complete.

Dell

Seeing as how Dell was the largest manufacturer of personal computers for many years, you've undoubtedly seen the Dell logo innumerable times. You'll notice that the "E" in Dell is turned on its side. The reason? It represents company founder Michael Dell's wish to "turn the world on its ear." Some have also speculated that the slanted 'E' is meant to portray a floppy disk.

United States Cyber Command

If you look closely at this logo, you'll see 32 letters and numbers located inside the inner gold ring. A random sequence, perhaps? Not even close. If you run the alphanumeric string through an md5 cryptographic hash, it yields the group's mission statement.

Sun Microsystems

The old Sun Microsystems logo, before the company was acquired by Oracle in 2009, is rather clever. If you take a close look at the imagery on the left, you'll see that each quadrant can be read to be either an "S" or "UN". The end result is that the image reads "Sun" no matter what direction or orientation you're looking at it from.

Northwest Airlines

Considered one of the best corporate logos ever created, the old Northwest Airlines is a classic. The logo here works on three levels. The 'N' stands for North. The triangle in the upper left represents a knob on a compass, pointing northwest. What's more, the triangle also forms the upper left part of a "W".

MacRumors

If you're at all interested in catching up on the latest Apple-related rumors, you've undoubtedly stopped by MacRumors, the most widely read Apple blog on the web. The MacRumors logo naturally features an apple. You'll note, though, that the right side of the apple is comprised of a question mark, signifying the unknown nature of many of the rumors that come through the Apple rumor mill.

Picasa

Google Picasa represents Google's take on organizing, sharing, and editing photos. The Picasa logo has a lot more than meets the eye. The colorful portion of the logo represents a camera shutter, while the white negative space within the logo represents a house. Casa means "house" in Spanish, while "Pi" can be shorthand for Pixel Index. Put them together, and you have a house (i.e a depository) for your photos.

Microsoft XNA

The logo for Microsoft XNA, a collection of tools meant to help video game developers, has an interesting hidden meaning. The orange and chopped up portion of the 'X' signifies "XNA" in Morse code. Here's how: A dash followed by two dots and another dash represents an 'X' in Morse code. Meanwhile, an "N" in Morse code is a dash followed by a dot. And finally, an "A" in morse code is a dot followed by a dash. Add it all together and you have XNA. Very clever.

Nintendo GameCube

The Nintendo GameCube sported an extremely creative and well-designed logo. Note that the purple-hued 3D cube also doubles as a 2D letter "G". Further, the negative space within the Cube is the letter "C". G + C = GameCube. You'll also notice that the larger purple cube contains a smaller cube within it.

NBC

One of the most recognizable logos in history, the NBC logo is a peacock with six brightly colored feathers (each of which represented one of the company's six divisions at the time). If you look at the negative whitespace in the middle of the logo, you'll see the body of a peacock facing rightward, indicating a company looking to the future and not the past.

LG

The LG logo is meant to be inviting. While at first glance you'll likely see the letters "L" and "G", if you look closer you'll see that the L and G also help comprise a smiling face, with the L being the nose and the G being the outline of the face. The logo is vaguely reminiscent of the famed Happy Mac icon Apple introduced in Mac OS 8. Some also speculate that the LG logo contains a not-so-subtle shootout to Pac Man.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a Linux OS. The Ubuntu name itself is derived from the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, a phrase signifying humanity and commonly translated as "human kindness." Consequently, the Ubuntu logo depicts an overhead shot of three people joined together, holding hands, and looking up towards the sky. All in all, a rather clever and fitting logo/name combination.

Pittsburgh Zoo

If you'd like to see the creature that represents Linux (a Penguin), you might want to stop by the Pittsburgh Zoo. You might also want to check out their extremely clever logo, which makes great use of negative space. You'll note that the white space is used to create the silhouettes of a gorilla and a snow leopard. If you look even closer, you'll notice the silhouettes of few fish at the bottom of the logo.

Codefish

Codefish is an IT consultant company that provides a wide range of services. From app development to TV apps and web-based business automation, they do a little bit of everything. Their logo, which is clearly a fish, is comprised of a number of common characters used in programming.

Eighty20

Eighty20 is a business consulting company that leverages big data to come up with market research and develop market insights. And, oh yeah, its logo is charmingly geeky. Each of the horizontal lines in their logo represents a binary sequence. The blue squares are 1's while the grey squares represent 0's. So, the top row reads 1010000 while the bottom row reads 0010100. Those two sequences, in binary, represent the numbers 80 and 20, respectively.

AT&T

The AT&T logo shows blue "wires" wrapping around the globe, signifying AT&T as a worldwide communications company.

Toblerone

Based out of Bern, Switzerland, Toblerone makes popular chocolates. It also just so happens that Bern is known as the city of bears. Consequently, you may not have noticed that the Toblerone logo features a bear climbing up a mountain.

London Symphony Orchestra

Who says logos need to be complex? The London Symphony Orchestra is remarkably simple yet still manages to convey a whole lot. You'll first note that the logo spells out 'LSO' in script form. But if you look even closer, you'll notice that the logo also represents a conductor, with the 'L' representing his right arm and the 'O' representing his left.

Hope for Africa Children Initiative

The Hope for Africa Children Initiative aims to promote the safety and improve the welfare of children in Africa. The initiative's logo naturally depicts the African continent. You'll also note that the left side of the logo is a silhouette of a child while the right side of the logo contains the silhouette of a caring adult. Very nice.

Le Tour De France

The official logo for the Tour De France is extremely clever. At first glance, it may simply appear to be a logo designed with a funky font, but if you look closer, you'll see that the logo subtly depicts a bicycle rider. The 'O' is meant to be the back wheel of the bike, the yellow circle the front wheel, the "R" is of course the rider, and the 'u' signifies the rider's left leg.