Subliminal Messages

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

As I was enjoying a Wendy’s chocolate frosty, I began thinking about the new Wendy’s logo I had seen in several articles on Yahoo!  In the midst of the hoopla about the “hidden” or subliminal message in the new logo, I got to thinking about trademarks with subliminal messages in them.  If you look closely at the new Wendy’s logo below, you can see in Wendy’s collar the word “Mom.”

Wendy’s claims that its subliminal message was unintentional.  However, they may now want to capitalize on this and register it for a trademark.  If Wendy’s decides to file an application for this mark, its trademark attorney may have an additional arrow in its quiver.  The subliminal message could be argued to enhance the acquired distinctiveness of the mark. (Note:  Wendy’s has registered other marks with a similar picture with a pigtailed, freckled Wendy, so they might not need this arrow.)

See how the word “mom” jumps off page in the mono-color version that is used on Wendy’s Styrofoam cups.  The full logo of this color scheme might be a good specimen to submit in connection with applying for a trademark for this subliminal message logo.

In reviewing the Yahoo! articles, there appear to be many of this type of subliminal messages contained in the logos of well known companies.  For example, the Toblerone chocolate bar (my first treat while in Europe) hails from Bern, Switzerland.  This is the location of a well-known bear park.  If you look closely below, you can see a hidden bear in the mountain.

Another subliminal message is contained in the Federal Express logo, which has a white arrow between the “E” and “x” which suggests sending packages.

The Baskin Robbins Ice Cream logo is a registered trademark, as evidenced by the ® symbol in the logo.  If you look closely at the contrasting colors, you can see a pink “31” as part of the letters “B” and “R.”  It is likely that some clever marketing person designed this logo to emphasize Baskin Robbins’ famous “31 different delicious flavors for every day of the month.”

Unilever is a company with many brands.  If you look closely at the logo below, there are 24 different symbols of particular products which are sold by Unilever.  For example, there is a dove in the top right corner, representing their brand Dove.

Another clever logo is owned by, which is also a registered trademark.  You can see in the logo below there is an “a” with an arrow to “z”, which implies that has everything from a to z.  The arrow also composes a smile. (A couple of previous posts on this here and here.)

Hopefully, clever marketing and branding people are working in conjunction with their trademark attorneys to ensure protection for these marks with subliminal messages. Are you aware of any other fun subliminal messages contained in logos, whether trademarked or not?

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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