27 Hidden Messages in Company Logos

How many of these have you spotted?

1. The FedEx Arrow

The classic! As Matthew May said in The Laws of Subtraction, "Nearly every design school professor and graphic designer with a blog has at some point focused on the FedEx logo to discuss the use of negative space." I recently pointed out the arrow to my five-year-old daughter and blew her mind. 

2. The Old Milwaukee Brewers Logo

There's a Facebook group called Best Day of My Life: When I Realized the Brewers Logo Was a Ball and Glove AND the Letters M and B. If for you that day is today, this must be very exciting. Soak it up.

3. Toblerone

Look! There's a bear in the mountain! There's also something hidden in the candy's name: Toblerone is a portmanteau of its creator’s name, Theodor Tobler, and “torrone,” an Italian word for a type of nougat.

4. Pittsburgh Zoo

It's a tree! And a lion! And a gorilla! And now it's no longer hidden.

5. Roxy 


The female clothing line owned by Quicksilver takes its parent company’s logo and doubles it to make a heart.

6. Hershey Kisses 


Tilt your head to the left to see this one: The brown space between the "K" and the "I" create a sideways Hershey’s kiss.

7. Yoga Australia


The negative space created by the yogi’s leg and arm makes the shape of Australia.

8. Tour de France

The 'R' is a cyclist.

9. Amazon.com

As David Vik says in The Culture Secret, "That's a subtle reminder to employees and customers alike that Amazon has everything from A to Z."

10. Baskin-Robbins

See that "31," for the "31 flavors"? Yeah. In case it comes up, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were brothers-in-law.

11. Tostitos

Two Ts sharing salsa! The logo has changed slightly, but that element remains.

12. Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten likes adding extras into logos. Notice the '11' in the previous logo on the bottom, back when 11 schools were involved. When Nebraska joined, the subtle 11 had to go. The conference explained exactly what it was doing: "[The logo's] contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral '10' in the word 'BIG,' which allows fans to see 'BIG' and '10' in a single word."

13. Merck

The pharmaceutical company's logo is made up of a capsule and two pills. In a very scientific poll of the two people next to me, 50% were surprised, while the other 50% said that's the only thing that logo could possibly be.

14. Caribou Coffee

The coffee chain refreshed its logo in 2010, and the caribou's body is now made of coffee beans. But that's not the only change. "While the Caribou in the previous logo was leaping left," the company said, "the caribou now leaps right, signifying the direction the company is heading." You probably picked up on that already.

15. Kölner Zoo 


At first glance, this logo may seem like just an elephant, but you can see a star, rhino, and giraffe in the white space.

16. The Bronx Zoo 


The New York zoo gives a nod to their urban geography: A collection of skyscapers can be seen in the legs of the giraffes. 

17. Magic Coffee 


This logo doubles as a coffee cup and a magicians top hat. Some might suggest this is more of an illusion than magic. 

18. Sony Vaio 


Sony wanted a logo that combined analog and digital technology into one, just as their product does. Designer Timothy Hanley achieved this by blending the two together: The first half of the logo (the "V" and "A") represents the analog wave, while the second half ("I" and "O") represents binary—a computing language written in ones and zeros. 

19. Northwest Airlines 


The airline played with the idea of navigation with this compass-like design. The W has a strategic line in it, creating an N and an arrow pointing northwest.

20. Hope for African Children 


This one is similar to the face/candlestick illusion. The shape of Africa is created in the negative space of a child looking up at a woman. 

21. Spartan Golf Club 


Spartan Gold Club incorporates both elements of their name. The golfer creates the face of a Spartan warrior and his swing becomes the top of the helmet.  

22. Montreal Expos 

At first glance, this logo looks like an "M" in the colors of the French flag. A lowercase "e"  and "b" are tucked into the "M." Officially, the letters stand for Montreal Expos Baseball. A popular theory says that the letters are actually "EJB," the initials of Elizabeth Bronfman, the daughter of a former Expos owner.

23. Arkansas–Pine Bluff Golden Lions 

This lion gets its mane from the letters "UAPB," for University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. 

24. Minnesota Wild 

The Minnesota landscape makes up this logo’s bear shape. A setting sun fills its ear and a running river doubles as the bear’s mouth. Most interestingly, the eye is meant to be the North Star, a potential nod at Minnesota’s previous team, the Minnesota North Stars.

25. Minnesota Twins 


The "win" in Twins is optimistically underlined.

26. Quebec Nordiques 

The now-defunct Canadian hockey team sported a red "N" next to a hockey stick. Together, the images created an igloo. There is a slim chance nostalgic Nordique fans might see their team re-emerge: Canada might add three more franchises in the next 20 years, and Quebec City meets the minimum requirements. 

27. Hartford Whalers 

Before the franchise moved to North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes, the Whalers had a clever logo. The negative space between the "W" and the whale tail create an "H," for Hartford.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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Remembering Sara Little Turnbull, Whose Bra Cup Design Became the N95 Mask

Design innovator Sara Little Turnbull.
Design innovator Sara Little Turnbull.
Photo Credit: © Center for Design Institute

The coronavirus pandemic has made something of a celebrity out of the N95 mask, a particle-filtering face covering that’s long been used to protect wearers from inhaling or exhaling pathogens. (The “95” refers to the fact it can block 95 percent of airborne particles.)

Like most nondescript and pervasive products, not many people stop to think about where it came from. Now, owing to the attention placed on it as a key tool in the health care professional’s fight against coronavirus, the woman behind the mask has come to the forefront. Her name is Sara Little Turnbull, and she designed what would become the N95 based on the shape of a bra cup.

A design consultant, Turnbull was working with the 3M company in 1958 in their gift wrap and fabric division when she was exposed to Shapeen, a non-woven material made of polymers and used for decorative ribbons. Turnbull was fascinated by the molded version of Shapeen and devised the first-ever pre-made bows for gift wrap.

Turnbull didn’t stop there. She saw endless possibilities in Shapeen and assembled an audience of 3M executives to present a number of ideas she had for products—more than 100 in all—using the material. At the presentation, which she titled “Why,” she impressed 3M with the scope of Shapeen's potential. The company quickly enlisted her to work on a design for a molded bra cup.

But Turnbull had another, arguably more important notion. At the time, she was taking care of three ailing family members who were under the care of doctors. Turnbull was often in a medical setting and noticed health care workers were constantly adjusting thin masks that tied in the back. She returned to 3M with the idea of using that same molded material to make a mask that would fit more comfortably on the face.

Again, 3M saw potential in Turnbull’s idea. By 1961, they introduced a non-woven lightweight medical mask based on her concept, with elastic bands instead of strings, an aluminum nose clip, and a form-fitting "bubble" shape. (The bra patent was approved in 1962.) Though innovative, the mask couldn't block pathogens for medical use and was marketed for dust filtration instead. An improved respirator hit the market in 1972 that was suitable for other industrial purposes. As the mask’s filtration evolved, so did its usefulness. In 1995, the N95 respirator was introduced in the health care field, fulfilling Turnbull's original ambition.

Though Turnbull had been relegated to a nondescript part of 3M, she had an extensive background in design, graduating from the Parsons School of Design in 1939 and later becoming the decorating editor of House Beautiful magazine. After Turnbull wrote an article taking companies to task for not designing products suitable for the end user, she was hired by 3M. As a consultant, she also collaborated with Corning, Revlon, General Mills, and Ford, among others.

After Turnbull died in 2015, the Sara Little Turnbull Center for Design Institute was formed, which offers information to the public on the value of design and supports the efforts of disadvantaged women's design education. Turnbull's vast archive of material is available to view by appointment. A foundation in her name also provides educational grants. The “Little,” incidentally, was in acknowledgment of her height. At 4 feet, 11 inches tall, Turnbull wasn’t terribly physically imposing. But her contributions were gigantic.

[h/t NPR]