You probably already know the story behind the famous FedEx logo and its clever use of negative space – It’s the white arrow between the E and the x. Of course, it’s hardly the only logo with a “hidden message.” Logos are designed to inform & give us an immediate impression of a company…but what about the subliminal messages they’re trying to convey? Have you ever looked at logos and wondered what their meanings were or what inspired the designer? We handpicked 10 logos from the famous billion-dollar technology companies also called 🦄 “unicorns” that you almost certainly see everyday and what they represent.
Valuation: $68 b.
(San Francisco, US)
Uber’s logo and visual identity came from a time when Uber was only offering the black car. It conveyed an impression of luxury and exclusivity, which was different from the Uber that people experience every day: affordable, convenient, ubiquitous, local but still forward thinking and desirable.
Because of that divergence, a brand redesign was becoming increasingly necessary, but this wasn’t carried lightly. That was an occasion for the team to take an exhaustive inventory of what Uber stood for and what it should represent.
“The old Uber was black and white, somewhat distant and cold. This belied what Uber actually is—a transportation network, woven into the fabric of cities and how they move. To bring out this human side—the atoms—we’ve added color and patterns. The team has spent months researching architecture, textiles, scenery, art, fashion, people and more to come up with authentic identities for the countries where Uber operates.” Travis Kalanick (CEO and Co-Founder)
The new identity represents the outcome of that long process. One of the meanings of the new logo is that the digital world is made of bits, the physical world is made of atoms, and Uber is where they intersect.
2. Xiaomi (小米)
Valuation: $46 b.
The “MI” in logo stands for “Mobile Internet”. It also has other meanings, including “Mission Impossible,” because Xiaomi faced many challenges that had seemed impossible to defy in their early days.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from the miui’s forum: As for the origin of Xiaomi, it can be dated back to 1950s, (First I think you need to know Xiaomi is a kind of cereal in China and we can make porridge with it.) When we fought with Japanese, we fought them back with Xiaomi and guns, so xiaomi represents solidity, and now xiaomi is a kind of cereal in our daily life, we Chinese often eat them and for some people they can’t live without xiaomi, so you may find xiaomi is very important in China. We call our cellphone Xiaomi, which has two meanings: ONE – is we must work hard to lay a solid foundation; SECOND – we must make our cellphone very popular in people’s eyes, and even make people can’t live without our cellphone.
3. Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行)
Valuation: $36 b.
Its name “Didi” (滴滴) is the sound of vehicle horns and kids in China use it to symbolize cars, and “Di” alone is also the slang for taxi in Mandarin, so Didi is the diminutive form of that. “Chuxing” (出行) simply means going out on a trip or travelling somewhere. So the two phrases literally means taxi-taxi-go-on-a-trip.
Here’s a short video of Didi Chuxing’s rebranding overview in under 90 seconds.
Valuation: $25.5 b.
(San Francisco, US)
Airbnb (originally AirBed & Breakfast) is an online marketplace for people to list their property (owned or rented) for short- and long-term accommodations for other people to book. Now the community has outgrown the original Airbnb brand.
“For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere. That is the idea at the core of our company: belonging.”
Brian Chesky (CEO of Airbnb)
The marque, named Bélo, encompasses values of belonging and is imbued with four meanings of People, Places, Love and Airbnb.
This was a brand launch that got people discussing the power and value of brand. It made a connection with people who hadn’t heard of Airbnb before and empowered those that had already experienced it. Nearly 20k people have already used create.airbnb.com to build a unique version of the symbol specifically for them, embracing the opportunity to make it their own.
Ultimately, it enables the brand to act and speak in the way that the founders always wanted it to and lets the community be part of this growing conversation.
5. Palantir Technologies
Valuation: $20 b.
(Palo Alto, US)
Data analytics software
The term “Palantir” comes from the “seeing stones” in JRR Tolkien’s fantasy books The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, it’s a crystal ball used for both communication and as a means of seeing events in other parts of the world.
According to one of the employees who shared on Quora: the logo can be viewed as two ways: 1.) An orb on a pedestal, just as the Palantir of LOTR fame was an orb of knowledge that let you see into your enemy’s secrets; 2.) A human being reading a book, which it also represents the core goal of the company: human-computer symbiosis.
6. Snapchat 👻
Valuation: $18 b.
Snapchat’s logo is named Ghostface Chillah, based on Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan.
In a social media age where saving and preserving moments has become the norm, Snapchat found a way to go against the grain. With Snapchat, every moment is temporary. What’s shared is rarely saved. It’s about in the moment connections.
In its rawest form, Snapchat enables us to share temporary, self-destructing photos, videos, and messages (also known as ‘Snaps’). Images and videos will last anywhere from one to ten seconds, and users can embellish each Snap with captions, drawings, and filters.
Once a Snap has been viewed, it’s gone forever. (……like a “ghost”)
Valuation: $15 b.
India’s online marketplace Flipkart introduced a new logo and new brand identity back in early 2015. The new logo reflects Flipkart’s focus on mobile app. The new logo is making way for the letter F – denoting “playfulness” and “speed.” This is inline with one Flipkart platform across mobile-desktop-online-offline-print.
The old logo had good intentions, with the “f” completing the shopping cart drawing but, well, no, not a good idea. The shopping cart imagery is good for the shopping cart user interface icons and should be avoided as a company logo unless you are in the business of making shopping carts. The new logo is a remarkably pleasant update, starting with the wordmark. It has no weird cuts, no unnecessary rounded-not-rounded corner combinations, and it looks friendly and accessible. Moving to a shopping bag icon makes the logo more about the end result than the process of shopping, which makes for a better concept. I find it very interesting that the “f” in the shopping bag is basically the Facebook logo with a handle on a yellow background and the “f” is on speed. I mean, obviously, it’s not the same logo but it’s the exact same layout. Speaking of the handles… someone gave up on those. The front string looks like a worm coming out of an apple and the back string is not even there. Nonetheless, an improvement.
Valuation: $12 b.
No, the image above definitely NOT the real SpaceX‘s logo! It’s a photoshopped image from an original long-shot launch of the Falcon 9, however, that pretty much explained the design of the logo. Here’s the REAL logo.
Here’s an interesting fact: SpaceX’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk has said that he named his spacecraft “Dragon” after the fictional “Puff the Magic Dragon,” from the hit song by music group Peter, Paul and Mary. Musk said he used the name because many critics considered his goals impossible when he founded SpaceX in 2002.
Valuation: $11 b.
(San Francisco, US)
Put a pin in it – The social media site Pinterest is a portmanteau of the words “pin” and “interest,” since it allows users to pin things they’re interested in to a board. Since the word “pin” and the act of pinning something to a board plays such a crucial part in the brand’s identity, the Pinterest logo has a pin design hidden in the letter “P.”
This pin-shaped “P” is used throughout the rest of Pinterest’s branding, including its social buttons. It’s also used in the phrase “pin it,” which is frequently used to draw attention to media that can be pinned to a Pinterest board. All of these hidden “pins” are designed to get people pinning things by mimicking the action of pushing a real pin into a bulletin board.
Valuation: $8.53 b.
Spotify shifted its new look signals back in 2015 represent an identify of: “We’re a music brand, not a tech company!”
According to fastcodesign – The goal of the new brand identity was to create a look that would signal to the brand’s core audience of millennials that Spotify was as rich and lively as the music culture it fronted, rather than simply a technology service that served up songs.
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