Visual puns in logo design

Edgar Allen Poe once said,

“Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”

The same could be said of clever designs, and those who can and cannot design them. When you’re designing a logo, you really want to make it stick out from the pack — make the viewer notice. So like a good television commercial or literary sentence, you might want to inject some wit. With graphic arts, instead of a play on words, your puns have got to be visual.

Collected here are some logos, both from around the globe as well as our site, that have given us here at 99designs a good chuckle. A little wit and creativity go a long way!

Rebel Sport

visual puns - rebel

This simple logo for an Australian sporting goods company contains the subtlest of puns. After all, what is more rebellious than turning the ‘e’ backwards?!

Toblerone

Toblerone

The subtlety here is what makes finding this pun so exciting. We all recognize the snowy mountain as a reference to the Swiss alps, the region from which this tasty nougat chocolate derives, but do you also see the bear hiding in the snow-capped peak? Look right in the middle. The bear represents the Swiss city of Bern, where Toblerone is produced. The bear is the official heraldic animal of the city. How’s that for a trip to Switzerland with your chocolate?

Masters of Sex

masters_of_sex_logo

Luckily for Showtime’s ‘Masters of Sex,’ it’s a premium cable show, so they can afford to be more cheeky than other television series. While the sexual imagery is subtle, it underlines the subtly sexual nature of the two professors who broke boundaries researching sex. One of them was named Dr. William Masters, so we can see that the show is clearly into puns, seeing as one is built into their title. And then the joke was snuck in via typography. Love it.

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

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Although the logo for this boundary-breaking orchestra has since changed, we hear (get it?!?!?) at 99designs are rather fond of the use of musical notes to create the image of their recipient, the ear.

Hooters

NEW_Hooters_new_logo_TM_highres

There are two things that Hooters is known for: chicken wings and breasts. Their name is a comment on the latter specialty, making the owl a clever namesake for the beer-n-boobs chain. See if you can find both of these things in their logo!

The Bronx Zoo

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 5.26.40 PM

Hiding the iconic New York skyline in the legs of the zoo-friendly giraffe simultaneously displays the savanna and the city.

These kinds of punny designs aren’t only found in the logos of famous companies, but also in the works of some of our very own designers here on 99designs. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Svens Fiction by Volxdo

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This contest for a science fiction writer is clearly already pretty punny. After all, the title of the contest is a pun in and of itself (the writer’s name is Sven). The logo eloquently combines the shape of a fountain pen and a rocket ship. Writing and sci-fi, wrapped into one elegant and simple design.

Rock Star Cake by Ink

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Rock out with your…frosting out. Well, that could be the slogan for this bada$$ logo. Even though cakes are not made of heavy metal, they might contain heavy whipping cream.

Gamma Jam by Milkochua

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This logo for Gamma Jam Brainworks cleverly (and colorfully) spells the company’s name using the images of brainwaves that the business measures and trains. They are experimental and hip science, so this logo gets double points for making science look kind of like your new favorite indie band.

Poison Spider Bicycles by Nagual

Poison Spider Bicycles

This logo incorporates the bike chain into the body of the spider, instantly combining the two ideas conveyed in the name of the company. The red color of the chain makes it especially poisonous looking, and thus a clever design is born.

Ultimately, there are many names for these kinds of designs. Some might call them designs with hidden messages, some might just say they are especially witty. But we here at 99designs like to call them visual puns. And boy do we love puns. So have a little fun, get punny, and leave a lasting impression.

What is your favorite pun-tastic design?

Related articles:
Beyond branding: 3 cool companies go ‘No Logo’
From sketch to spectacle: famous movie storyboards
Make ‘em laugh: 11 humorous uses of graphic design
9 humorous (mis)adventures in branding

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