A company’s logo can be as synonymous with their brand as the product that they offer consumers.
Some of the best logos not only stick in your head because they are so iconic, but because the imagery that is used can convey emotions that can build a relationship, before a consumer even purchases a product.
For many companies throughout history, this brand awareness is curated using animal symbolism in their logo. Depending on the type of animal chosen, a brand is strong, fast, luxurious, caring, mysterious and many other emotions.
In our world today, many people can see the logo for Twitter (bird) or MGM (lion) and it can create not only an emotional connection but can also trigger memories, whether good or bad, it creates that connection.
Here we look at animal symbolism, the meanings of animals, and what each animal represents in the context of logo design, branding and advertising, explaining the connection and meanings that these animals can stir up in consumers.
Logos Using Animal Symbolism
The jungle cat, the panther, can be viewed as a symbol of courage, beauty, cunningness, viciousness, grace, protection as well as death and rebirth. It’s no surprise to see this majestic animal being used in many different logos from the auto industry to professional sports teams. The use of a panther logo can convey strength, honor, and valor.
Across cultures as well as history, the snake has been viewed by many as a symbol of transformation, rebirth, healing, and even immortality. While some religions may attribute the snake to the story of Adam and Eve, many other cultures relate snakes to guardianship as well. Snakes also have a venomous side and could even convey an evil undertone when used appropriately.
While in ancient Egypt, cats were held in high esteem, cats symbolize many different areas including freedom, patience, flexibility, healing from within, an adventurous spirit and curiosity. It is this curiosity that is portrayed in many logos featuring cats. Many logos will use cats to portray a sense of playfulness and comfort regarding the way they want to portray their brand.
The fastest member of the animal kingdom, the Cheetah symbolizes many of the things that make it such an amazing member of the animal kingdom. These include action, fast thinking, passion, progress, assertion, flexibility, and protection. Many logos that use a cheetah will either have the animal appear to be in motion or with a look of animosity to portray the protection that the cheetah symbolizes.
As one of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom, many people can see many of the traits we have as humans in monkeys. This makes perfect sense as the monkey symbolizes intelligence, lightheadedness, seriousness, intensity, honor, involvement, grace, community, activity, family, protection, health, charm, curiosity, understanding, authority, observational clarity, energy, and untamed nature. Many of the same qualities that we as humans possess. Many logos will display a monkey’s seriousness or intensity while others will focus more on the charm that a monkey can symbolize.
One of the biggest brands in the world uses a mouse as part of its logo. Whenever someone sees it, they instantly know the company and the emotions that come with it. A mouse can symbolize many things including resourcefulness, modesty, adaptability, curiosity, determination, shyness, and innocence. May logos using a mouse will try to accentuate the innocence of a mouse, which can make a logo unforgettable.
Ducks are one of the most sociable creatures on Earth. It is very rare to see a duck by itself and not conversing with other members of their flock. This sociability comes across when companies decide to use a duck on their logo. Their symbolism is attributed to companies choosing a duck. These include clarity, comfort, family, protection, energy, emotional strength and grace.
The King of the jungle. The lion by itself needs no introduction. Many companies choose to use an ion or lion head in their logo to convey strength and stability. Companies that choose a lion for their logo are far off from the symbolism that comes with a lion. These include majesty, strength, courage, justice, excellence, and resilience.
Revered by some cultures as sacred animals, cows have become an integral part of our lives. While companies that use a cow in their logos may be in either the agricultural or milk-producing fields, the symbolistic traits of being loving, generous, fertile and nurturing are on full display in their logos
The deer family has mythological ties back to ancient Greece when the goddess Artemis considered the deer to be sacred. The symbolism of deer plays to the heart of their natural environment. Deer represent energy, independence, and regeneration as well as the gentle, yet enticing lure that can come from starting a new adventure. Logos that have a deer or stag as a focus may be trying to capitalize on that independence or sense of adventure. Deer logos by Roy Smith, Sergey Kovalenko, Sava Stoic.
The ancestor of man’s best friend, the wolf symbolizes intelligence and freedom, loyalty, communication, compassion, and friendship. At the same time though, a wolf may symbolize power, togetherness, and trust. Many logos will convey trust or the power that a wolf possess in branding their company.
When you look at a rhinoceros, what thoughts come to mind? Danger, strength, power? Those feelings are what companies hope to convey using an image of a rhino on their logo. While the image of a rhino can invoke those feelings, a rhino can symbolize the opposite feelings including freedom, judgment, longevity, and stability.
The sea turtle is one of the oldest creatures on Earth and has been used in symbols in many different cultures throughout history. For many cultures, the use of turtle imagery can symbolize good luck, endurance, and long life. The imagery of a turtle’s shell can portray a sense of protection that many logos will focus on in order to convey that feeling about their company.
The most iconic image featuring a bat is the logo for Batman. Just about anyone who sees the logo knows who that is for. Bats can have many different symbolic meanings depending on the culture. While for many, a bat can represent fear, the image of a bat can also symbolize rebirth, illusion, dreams, journeying, communication, and intuition. In China, a bat can symbolize happiness and joy.
The image of a hen can have many symbolic meanings that logos may try to portray to build trust with their customers. While in general birds can be symbolic with good luck, a hen is symbolic of fertility, birth. In Chinese culture, a rooster can symbolically mean both punctuality and honesty.
As one of the largest animals on earth, many different cultures throughout history had great respect for the whale with some considering them symbols of the world, the body, and the grave. Seeing the image of a whale can invoke many different feelings in people. When part of a logo, the image of a whale can have a symbolic meaning of compassion and solitude as well as the knowledge of both life and death. The image of a whale can also be symbolic of unbridled creativity, while exhaling through a blowhole may symbolize the release of creative energies.
If you were a child in the 1980s and 90’s, you may remember the good luck rabbit’s foot keychain that it seemed like everyone and their grandmother had. This made a lot of sense because a rabbit not only symbolizes good luck, but also imagination, timing, intuition, and abundance. A rabbit can also be a symbol for rebirth as we celebrate the bunny rabbit on Easter.
Owls can be both beautiful and mysterious creatures of the night. Many cultures and societies have associated them with darkness and negativity. Businesses that may work in education or travel will use an owl as their logo as the symbolism for an owl can portray wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and experience as well as many other symbols.
Crocodile / Alligator
A crocodile can be one of the most dangerous and fascinating creatures. A descendant of dinosaurs, crocodiles symbolize courage, strength, honor, patience, cunning, fear and primal power. When watching a crocodile, it is very easy to see why they represent these ideals. Many logos will use these themes to represent their brand when using an image of a crocodile.
There are some who consider the camel to be the toughest animal in the world. Being able to endure long periods without water through the blistering heat of the desert, the reputation seems to fit. The image of a camel is meant to symbolize strength, endurance, and persistence as well as steadiness and patience.
Using Animal Symbolism in Logos, Graphic Design & Branding
When a company chooses to use an animal as a part of their logo, they are hoping, like many other famous brands to create a connection with their customer and create life-long relationships.
The symbolism that the image of an animal can portray can invoke an emotional response and belief that the ideals are at the core of the company.
We hope that our look at twenty animals that are used in logos can give you some ideas to work with. If you have a favorite animal that isn’t on our list that you’ve used before, let us know in the comments below!
This article was contributed by Bryan Downey. Copyright respective of each owner.