Join Bill Gardner for an in-depth discussion in this video Hidden: In plain sight, part of Logo Design: Visual Effects.
Remember when someone has shared a particularly clever brainteaser with you? And when you figured it out, how quickly you wanted to share it with someone else? In a way, this kind of allows us to show others that we may not be as dim as we seem. Or, at least it is for me. When created just right, finding a hidden object nestled into another image gives the consumer that same rush of discovery and a confirmation of their own wit. It should be no less of surprise that naturally they will want to share this with others or point out the hidden object at every opportunity.
And if they do so, wow, you have completely accomplished your mission. Did you see the star peeking through the palm trees? I'm especially fond of this mark from Duffy Partners for the Tall Tale Cafes at Gander Mountain. I just thought this was a pretty amazing buck until I found the goose and the leaping bass in it. I think that makes for a tall tale of its own. In a very similar vein, secreting a hidden object in the negative space between multiple objects placed together is every bit as magical and sometimes a bit easier to craft.
Since the object is in the negative area it can sit there for long periods without discovery if you're a bit too clever. Turner Duckworth Design built an entire campaign around Coca-Cola bottles that seemed to appear and vanish at will between a series of objects. Without the Coca Cola script as a clue, I probably would have wondered why these sandals were so prominent for the better part of a summer. I think one of the most beautiful examples of this type is this one by Studio with a dove invisibly placed between these two girls, holding hands while in full stride.
The lesson learned here is to let the foreground object tell your client's story, but let the real message become clear on discovery. Then just try to stop them from being your biggest advocate as they share that discovery with others. No less difficult, but every bit as effective, is creating a double entendre in the positive area of a logo. There is always a dominant image with these. You want the consumer to receive the message in a hierarchical order. The illusion is one thing, but the reality is something else altogether.
If you client has a multifaceted story with many layers of messaging, this might be an effective way to share these. At first review of the row of logos, I see a tree, a hand, a shock of wheat, and a smiling face. On closer inspection, I see a face in the tree, the African continent on the palm, hands reaching out from the wheat, and two individuals clasping arms in the face.
So once again, I see exceptional logos pulling double duty for clients with a story that is more than a single layer deep. As we've been discussing the possibility of hiding various imagery in our logos, I should probably assure this forewarning that might come in useful in a logo project at some point in time. It's a psychological phenomenon referred to as pareidolia. It's our ability to perceive vague or random stimulus as significant. Yep. It's the reason we see faces in clouds, potato chips, rocks, faucets, and on and on.
Or if you're like me, in the random patterns in linoleum tiles. We literally are hardwired from birth in our ventral fusiform cortex to identify and react to human faces or to find them in anything that evokes one. As we developed as a species, this was very important, and especially to read facial expressions and to be able to react to protect ourselves. Making a long story short, it can be pretty easy to sneak just enough strokes in to a logo for consumers to find a face in it.
Throw in just the right strokes, like on the emoticons we use when texting, and you can subconsciously allow a consumer to feel happy, sad, surprised or even threatened by your logo.
- Exposing complexity with transparency
- Find synergy in numbers
- Creating the illusion of form
- Applying personality with patterns
- Creating a narrative with light and shadow
- Using optical illusion to intrigue