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Clever Logo Design Explained

The logo design industry is changing as companies of all kinds opt for clever logos rather than obvious representations of their business. This innovative approach to design helps companies separate themselves from their competition and appear cutting edge and contemporary. These logos aren’t just visually pleasing; they have an extra dash of intelligence which makes them something special. However, it takes a trained design team to create a clever logo.

Use Visual Double-Entendres

Visual double-entendres are key elements of many clever logo designs, as they can tell the public about your company’s name or business without text. As the old adage says, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so this tactic makes a logo much more memorable.

The logo of Mister Cutts Total Male Grooming, a barber shop in Wichita Falls, Texas, is a great example of clever graphic design. This logo’s centerpiece is a stylized set of scissors, which reminds potential customers that the store specializes in haircuts. The scissors’ blades form a neatly trimmed mustache, and its finger rings serve as eyes. While you have to look a little more closely to see the scissors, it’s easy to spot the man in the logo. This well-groomed masculine image tells the public that Mister Cutts Total Male Grooming caters for male clientele.

At first glance, the logo of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium seems to simply show a gnarly old tree above the names of these wildlife centers. However, when you look at the negative white space on either side of the tree the images of a gorilla face on one side and a lion on the other come into focus. This clever logo reminds potential visitors of the animals they might see at the zoo.

Roxy reminds us of its heritage with its clever logo. This female-focused surf brand is actually a spin-off of Quiksilver, so it is fitting that its logo is two Quiksilver logos in one. The Quiksilver logo looks like a wave and a snow-capped mountain, which remind us of the company’s surf and snowboarding products. The two Quiksilver logos then form a sweet heart designed to appeal to Roxy’s female fans.

Word Art Gets the Right Message Across

That does not mean words don’t have any place in clever logos. However, when using text in clever logo design, it tends to appear in unusual ways. Clever logo designers care less about whether serif or sans-serif typefaces convey the right corporate image, and more about the ways that words can reveal details about a company’s name or business practices.

Consider the logo of national parcel carrier FedEx Express for clever logo inspiration. At first glance you simply see the bold purple and orange type spelling out the company’s name. However, if you pay attention to the negative space, you’ll see a perfect white arrow between the orange E and X. This suggests not only that the company will move your packages from one place to another, but also that the company is moving forward.

Then there’s the logo of charity organization Goodwill. Their logo has a large G against a blue background, with the charity name written underneath it in playful bubbly letters. This typeface suggests the organization is friendly and approachable. However, it is used for a more important reason than that. Look at the G closely and you’ll see it appears like a cropped smiling face. Increasing the size of the G at the top of the logo, as Goodwill has done, makes this clever detail easier to spot.

Snack food brand Tostitos also has fun with words. At first glance this clever food logo appears to simply display “Tostitos” against a vibrant yellow and orange background. However, on close examination it’s easy to spot the two celebrating people who form the two lower-case Ts of the brand name. These T people are actually dipping a corn chip into the red dot above the I, which serves as a bowl of salsa.

Ambigrams Also Play with Type

Ambigrams also utilize type, but these clever design tools are a bit different to the word art discussed before. Instead, these words or phrases are still readable if they’re viewed from another perspective. It’s a tricky idea to understand, and even more difficult to create, but examining real life examples makes this clever concept clearer.

Look to the logo of French clothing label NEW MAN for clever design inspiration. At first glance it simply appears to spell out the company’s name in a futuristic sans-serif typeface. However, due to the clever placement of the letters, this logo looks just the same if seen upside down. Designed by French-born American industrial designer Raymond Loewy in 1969, it has proven so popular that it’s still used by the brand decades after its introduction.

New York business management consultant firm Blacksmith Management Inc. also employed an ambigram for its logo, which seems to simply spell out the Blacksmith name in a black ornate type. However, the elaborate scrolling type actually helps it spell out Blacksmith whether it viewed right side up or upside down.

The logo for design, fashion, and technology collaboration group Society27 features only the numbers two and seven. It might seem like a strange choice to display only part of an organization’s name on its logo, but this minimalist logo is also a memorable ambigram. The numbers appear on top of one another, with the base of the two serving as the top of the seven. A final flourish at the base of the seven means the logo appears the same if it’s turned upside down.

There is a real art to creating a clever logo, so it shouldn’t be attempted by amateurs. The Logo Company will hand-pick a team of at least five designers skilled in creating the kind of clever logo that can best represent your company. Our design specialists will produce a range of concepts for you in just three working days.

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