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Most communication is simple, with a single layer of meaning. But once you get into the world of graphics – where the best signage lives and thrives – you begin to find opportunities to communicate more than one message at a time. Here are a few examples of public, possibly familiar graphics that exemplify the potential for signage to be a powerful tool of communication.
Wendy’s has a new logo, but it contains a hidden message that’s very old. Can you spot it? … It’s the word “mom” woven into the red-headed girl’s collar. I guess the idea is to evoke home-cooked foods, family dinners, and perhaps even a dose of unconditional love. None of that is guaranteed when you’re eating at a Wendy’s restaurant, of course. But the addition of “mom” to the company’s logo helps convey that message, if only subliminally.

FedEx is an extremely successful company, having changed the way people do business and created opportunities that didn’t exist until FedEx made them possible. So it’s fair to wonder: Did the hidden message shown here have anything to do with the company’s success? Hard to say. But it’s neat that they tucked a strong but hidden “arrow” shape into the space between the “E” and the “x”.

Here’s the logo of the Milwaukee Brewers. At first glance, it’s a simple baseball mitt. But look again and you notice the letter “m” and the letter “b” actually forming the overall graphic. What’s the hidden message here? I’m not sure, but with all parts of the logo working together you can discern both the team’s name and its sport at a single glance. At a minimum, that’s great efficiency.


I always wondered why so many people called these stores “31 Flavors,” until a friend pointed out to me the hidden message. Now it’s so obvious that I can actually admire the company having two names and finding a way to work them both into its logo.