That’s Clever

Every now and then I see a logo, business name, or other identity which is just brilliantly done, and I have to stop and laugh at the sheer cleverness of it. These are a step or three above the endless puns which make up hairdressing business names. (and what is up with that? What is it about cutting hair which lends itself to groaning wordplay? It’s not like the standard career path for “failed poet” is “beautician.” Beauty school is two to four years. It’s work. And it’s work with your hands, which is not using the same part of your brain as puns.)

You’ve seen the lists of logos with hidden figures and meanings, like this one on Digital Synopsis. The hidden arrow in Fed Ex usually tops that list. (I finally located an interview from Fast Company with the guy who designed the FedEx logo, and how it came about. Quite cool.)

Arrows can be nested in really cool ways, like this omni-directional version from Hospital Central Services. I particularly love the M.C. Escher-esque quality of the arrows which go in and out at the same time. I hope someone got an award for that.

One of my all-time favorites is the logo of the Elizabeth Center, the big sprawling mall/entertainment complex/IKEA location off Exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike. You wouldn’t think “mall off the Turnpike” would have really cool design, but every time I see the IZA of ELIZABETH becoming 13A I have to point and smile, because somebody was really paying attention.

Sun Microsystems had an ambigram kind of logo before it was bought by Oracle. In any direction you can read Sun, but it’s all made of arches which are Us, Ns, and stylized Ss.

I found a fun website name today: An agency called Red, which rather hilariously uses the URL ff0000.com. This is the hex code for a bright red. There are levels of meta and jargon there which both broadcast the cleverness of the agency and help weed out clients who just aren’t gonna get it.

What’s your favorite clever logo or business name?