The Science Behind Social Shopping: Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

Korean moisturizer.

An acupuncture mat.

These are just a few of the objects I’ve purchased on Instagram over the past couple months – mainly because an influencer told me to.

I’m not alone. Today’s shopper doesn’t head to the mall when she’s bored; she opens her phone.

In fact, according to HubSpot’s 2024 Consumer Trends survey, 25% of social media users have bought a product from directly within a social media app in the past three months.

As Adam Ortman, Founder and President of Kinetic319, puts it, “Each scroll and swipe is a potential opportunity, offering a dopamine-driven delight that our brains are hardwired to chase.”

Here, let’s jump into the psychology behind why social shopping is rising steadily in popularity in 2024.

1. It taps into our inherent desire for instant gratification.

As humans, we live for the short-term dopamine fix. When we’re bored, stressed, or tired, it’s all-too easy to give in to the urge for a little “boost” in our day – be it new sunglasses, a new top, or that fancy face wash influencers’ have been boasting about for weeks.

As Ortman told me, “It’s all about the thrill of the find and the joy of the ‘buy now’ buzz. This clever algorithmic design keeps consumers coming back for more, eager for that next like, comment, or, in this case, purchase opportunity.”

Consumer Psychologist Shilpa Madan agrees with Ortman that the short-term gratification we receive from purchasing on social media is partially what keeps us coming back.

As she puts it, “The ease with which transactions can be completed on these platforms caters to the consumer’s desire for instant gratification—a key factor in impulse buying. This seamless experience, coupled with the rich media and entertainment value of social shopping, increases the willingness to ‘click-to-buy’.”

2. It elicits a sense of connection.

While I still occasionally enjoy scrolling through a brand’s website to shop, these days, I primarily find my next purchases on social platforms.

Consumer Psychologist Kate Odegard believes this is because I’m able to find a stronger sense of connection on social media compared to a brand’s website.

She told me, “Consumers are drawn to social commerce because it’s more like the digital version of a shopping mall than scrolling through products on a brand website. One is about connection and curation, and the other is transactional and over-optimized.”

She adds, “In the research I’ve seen, consumers who are most receptive to social commerce turn to creators and influencers for guidance. They don’t scroll through posts, but instead, purposefully look to be inspired, to interact, and to participate in creator content.”

Consider this fun, light-hearted Instagram from one of my favorite influencers, Jen Reed:

The purpose of the video is to showcase affordable outfits for springtime. But I wasn’t in the market for affordable spring-time outfits – and yet, I still watched the video, because I feel a sense of connection to Jen and want to hear what she has to say.

Additionally, Jen has cultivated a sense of community on her platform. I like the people who follow Jen; I enjoy reading their comments and responding. And that’s the connection you just can’t find on a branded website.

3. It leverages social proof – and “FOMO”.

Ah, FOMO – the feeling most of us get everytime we log onto social media and see that, while we’re re-watching Lord of the Rings, our friends are out at lavish restaurants or enjoying tropical vacations.

That same sense of FOMO can come in the form of product endorsements, as it turns out.

As Ortman puts it, “Social proof isn’t just influential; it’s amazingly motivational. It leverages trust and the ‘fear of missing out’ psychology (yes, FOMO is real) to nudge us from mere interest to ‘must have now’. It’s a potent reminder that we might be missing out on something wonderful, which fuels our desire to act immediately.”

While I didn’t realize there was real science behind this phenomenon, I’ve certainly felt its affect. Recently, I found myself purchasing an Anthropology dress because I saw three of my friends wearing it on Instagram.

And it’s not always a poor investment, either. I love the dress I bought. And I’m not alone: ​​43% of users who’ve purchased a product directly within social media in the past three months are very satisfied with their purchase.

Madan agrees. She told me, “A product-endorsing TikTok video or Instagram post, especially from one’s social circle, serves as a potent endorsement. This visibility of peer interactions and approvals taps into social influences and peer pressure, making social media an arena where shopping decisions are publicly informed and endorsed.”

4. It demonstrates the power of relatability.

Finally, social shopping hits at our desire to see our own traits mirrored back at us in the people who sell us products.

In other words: I want to buy something from someone who looks, acts, or thinks like me.

Madan says, “When shoppers see someone who mirrors their own physical attributes (or what they aspire to) — be it height, weight, or skin tone — endorsing a product, it not only validates the product’s appeal but significantly boosts their confidence in the decision to purchase.”

She adds, “Research shows that this increased confidence increases willingness to buy, reduces procrastination, and even increases the amount consumers are willing to pay. Not surprising, then, that social platforms witness such enthusiastic purchasing behaviors.”

As a Marketer, Understanding Consumer Psychology Is Key

There are aspects of marketing, like social shopping, that can be confounding to some marketers. What types of social content will convince the most number of users to click ‘buy’? And from whom?

As Ortman says, “Social media shopping thrives in its ability to weave consumer psychology with strategic marketing stages. It’s a tactical coordination of desire and decision-making, where each step is designed to lead us to purchase, proving just how intertwined consumer psychology and marketing strategy really are in the social shopping medium.”

Ultimately, understanding your target audience is the first step to cultivating strong sales on social platforms. But knowing the psychology behind it doesn’t hurt, either.

How to Level Up as a Marketer in the AI Era (The Right Way)

I can’t lie — I’ve been feeling a little AI-fatigued lately. But the reason everyone’s still talking about AI is because it’s not going away anytime soon.

The reality is it’s changing the way we work as marketers. Our State of AI report shows that more than half of marketers (60%) are using AI tools in their role.

If you’re looking to grow your career, chances are you’ll have to lean into the AI hype. That’s a good thing, though, because there are smart ways you can use AI to become a better marketer.

What’s trending in AI for marketers?

Whenever I’m thinking about career growth, it’s helpful for me to know what’s hot (and what’s not) in the marketing world.

I mentioned earlier that more and more marketers are incorporating AI into their workflows. Here are a few additional insights from our report:

The most common AI tools for marketers include chatbots (e.g., ChatGPT), AI-enhanced CRM and marketing tools (e.g., HubSpot, of course), and AI-enhanced productivity tools (e.g., G-Suite AI suggestions).
The top three use cases for AI are content creation, learning how to do things (e.g., Excel functions), and data analysis/reporting. The majority of marketers who use AI for these tasks find it very effective.
55% of marketers are using educational resources to improve their AI knowledge and skills. The top learning method is educational videos.

Let’s unpack how you can use these AI tools and strategies to your benefit.

5 Ways to Use AI for Career Development

1. Uplevel your AI skills.

I chatted with Martina Bretous, editor of our Next in AI blog, and she shared her thoughts on AI and career growth.

“People often think growing your career with AI means becoming an AI expert but that’s not the case,” says Bretous.

She continues, “If you‘re in a technical or data-driven role like data science or software engineering, there’s so much demand for machine learning and deep learning skills. AI isn’t going away any time soon, so finding ways to incorporate it into your toolbox will be incredibly valuable in the long term.”

I 100% agree with this take. While you don’t have to become an expert in all things AI, there are benefits to building your AI toolbox. An increasing number of companies are looking for marketers with AI knowledge and experience.

Educational videos (e.g., on YouTube/TikTok) and online courses are great places to start. My recommendation? Check out HubSpot Academy’s AI for Marketing course for the basics.

2. Let AI help you polish your resume.

Your resume is arguably the most important part of your job search process.

While it’s possible to create an entire resume with AI, I wouldn’t suggest doing so. Instead, I’d recommend using it more strategically to:

Clean up specific sections of your resume.
Run grammatical checks before you submit.
Fine-tune the tone based on your industry or the role.

Take this example. Here, I asked ChatGPT for help with my executive summary.

I used this prompt: “Write an executive summary for a resume that describes a marketer with 8 years of experience in content strategy, writing, and editing.”

This is the output I received:

This is pretty solid. I like how it includes specific areas of expertise, highlights related accomplishments, and notes related skills. However, I’m looking for something shorter and a little more personable.

So, I followed up with this prompt: “Please shorten the summary and make the tone more conversational.”

This is the output I received:

In terms of tone, this is definitely more in line with what I’m going for. But it did cut out many of the elements I liked about the first one — like accomplishments and skills.

Realistically, I’d probably use a combination of these outputs as inspiration and tailor the language to my own background. But this is a helpful guiding point.

3. Use AI to become better (and faster).

“One of the best ways to use AI for career development is by using it as an assistant to streamline your processes,” says Bretous.

“Have you identified tedious tasks that you could automate with AI? Whether it’s data analysis, writing, research, creating reports, doing so could save you hours that you can now use to work on exciting, high-impact projects.”

She’s right — our data says that the majority of marketers who use AI for tasks like content creation and data analysis find it very effective. And improved efficiencies are a big selling point to potential employers.

When you’re ready to optimize your marketing workflow with AI, HubSpot Academy has another great course for you.

4. Make AI prompts do the heavy lifting.

In the spirit of efficiency, my colleague Erica Santiago compiled over 200 ChatGPT prompts that you should be using as a marketer (so you don’t have to).

There are endless ways to use prompts like these in your role.

Need to come up with some blog post ideas quickly? Ask ChatGPT this: List [number] ideas for blog posts about [topic].

Or maybe you’d like to get to know your audience a little better. In that case, try this one: What are the biggest pain points of [audience] in [industry]?

Using AI for support can help free you up to focus on other areas of career growth. And you get the most out of AI when you use the right inputs.

5. Brainstorm new ideas with AI.

As a writer, there’s nothing worse than hitting a creative slump. And during our busiest seasons, it can be hard to carve out time strictly for brainstorming.

Bretous says, “One of the biggest roadblocks to growth is feeling like you don’t have enough hours in the week to brainstorm, develop and execute on ideas that will get leadership’s attention. AI comes in by giving you back valuable time so you can focus on them.”

I used a “blog post ideas” prompt as an example in the tip #4. But you can use AI as inspiration for your email campaigns, social media strategies, and more.

Who knows, maybe your next big idea will be powered by AI. (And you’ll have a little more time to execute on it.)

Career Growth, Brought to You by AI

AI offers a lot of potential for your professional development. Remember, you don’t have to be an AI expert to grow your marketing career. You just have to be an expert in using it to your advantage.

30 Hidden Messages In Logos of Notable Brands

You know those instantly recognizable logos like Nike’s swoosh? Even though we’ve all seen them hundreds of times, most people don’t truly grasp the full meaning of these designs.

There’s often more to them than meets the eye, and those little details make them even more special.

In this post, I’ll share 30 hidden messages in the logos of well-known brands. Each example will introduce you to a fresh perspective on the artistry and ingenuity behind these iconic symbols. But more importantly, you’ll learn different approaches to thinking about and designing meaningful logos.

Hidden Messages in Popular Logos

Here are some of the most thoughtfully crafted logo designs that convey hidden messages about the brand’s history, values, and vision.

1. FedEx

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FedEx started in 1973 as a package delivery company called Federal Express. Fast forward to 1991, and the company underwent its first significant rebranding, where it introduced a new logo and shortened its name to FedEx. Then, just three short years later, there was another rebrand where the company introduced the iconic FedEx logo we all know and love today.

But what makes FedEx’s current logo so special?

If you look closely between the “E” and the “X,” you‘ll spot a hidden arrow in the negative space. And that little arrow isn’t just a cool design trick.

It symbolizes FedEx’s relentless drive to move forward, commitment to speed, and the promise of efficiency in every delivery.

What I like: The ingenious use of whitespace proves that sometimes, less really is more. Instead of relying on flashy design elements, the designers capitalized on the negative space between the letters to embed a hidden message — a testament to their creativity and attention to detail.

2. Amazon

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Since its founding in 1994, Amazon has transformed from a humble online bookstore into a retail powerhouse. Similarly, the logo has undergone multiple transformations over the years and come a long way from the original combination mark design.

Today, Amazon’s logo features the company name boldly written in a sleek, black font with an arrow/swoosh underneath the text. While this logo may appear simple at first glance, cleverly hidden meanings are embedded within the design.

The connection between the letters “A” and “Z” in the logo is a nod to Amazon’s vast product catalog, suggesting they‘ve got everything “from A to Z”. It implies that whatever you’re looking for, Amazon is the place to find it.

The swoosh also doubles as a subtle representation of a satisfied customer’s smile and a reminder of Amazon’s commitment to delivering those positive shopping experiences.

What I like: Amazon’s logo is centered around the customer. Whether showcasing the breadth of Amazon’s product catalog or the company’s dedication to customer satisfaction, the logo is a visual embodiment of a commitment to meeting customers’ needs.

3. Baskin Robbins

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Baskin-Robbins was created in 1953 through a merger between Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins. At the time, the company offered 31 ice cream flavors cleverly marketed as “one for each day of the month.” This concept became integral to their brand and featured in the brand logo.

The first three logo iterations saw the number “31” featured as a standalone element. However, in a 2006 brand refresh, this number was integrated into the letters B and R. Subsequent iterations have maintained this design, including a recent 2022 redesign.

While the number 31 may be less prominent in more recent logos, it remains a subtle tribute to the company’s roots.

What I like: Despite changes across various iterations, the logo pays homage to its heritage. But what’s most impressive is how it does it.

Maintaining the number “31” is a simple yet powerful tribute to where and how they started. However, integrating the number into the letters B and R reflects the company’s evolution.

4. Toyota

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Toyota began as Toyota Motor Sales in 1957. However, the current logo wasn’t introduced until 1989 as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. This logo, which took five years to develop, features three ovals, each with its own meaning.

The two interlocking ovals represent the trust and mutual benefit shared between Toyota and its customers, while the outer oval represents the brand’s global reach and impact. Additionally, the the ovals also form a letter “T,” which symbolizes trust or Toyota — depending on who you ask.

The background of the logo holds significance too. The space signifies Toyota’s values, which include a commitment to excellence, value beyond expectation, and the joy of driving.

What I like: Toyota’s logo manages to convey so much meaning with such simplicity. At first glance, it’s just three circles, but each one tells a story. The logo speaks to Toyota’s values and identity without overcomplicating itself.

5. Toblerone

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Toblerone’s logo is a tribute to its Swiss origins.

The company was founded in 1908 however in 1970, the Matterhorn mountain was added to the packaging as a nod to Switzerland. But what makes this logo unique is the hidden silhouette of a bear on the side of the mountain.

The bear, a symbol synonymous with Bern, also known as the “City of Bears,” is a subtle tribute to the company’s birthplace. Its inclusion is a testament to Toblerone’s dedication to honoring its roots and preserving the traditions that have shaped its identity.

What I like: This is another interesting example of how a logo can be used to preserve and honor a brand’s history. In this case, it’s interesting how Toblerone uses visual elements to depict its Swiss origins.

6. Hyundai

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Hyundai Motor Company was established in 1967 as part of the Hyundai Group. Since then, it has become a leading automobile manufacturer with one of the most recognizable logos worldwide.

But the Hyundai logo is much more than a sleek design.

At first glance, it looks like a simple slanted “H” inside an oval, but if you take a closer look, you might see two silhouettes shaking hands. These silhouettes represent Hyundai and its customers, symbolizing trust, reliability, and partnership.

The oval shape around the “H” also has a meaning. It is representative of the globe and symbolizes the company’s status as an automotive manufacturer with a strong global presence.

What I like: Recognizing the hidden message in the Hyundai logo requires a bit of imagination. This ambiguity sparks curiosity and invites viewers to engage with the logo on a deeper level.

As a marketer, I like how this provides a unique storytelling opportunity where the logo can become more than just a visual symbol.

7. Cisco

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This logo currently features a wordmark of the company name alongside a stylized graphical element. But what makes this logo unique is the significance behind its graphics.

The blue stripes in the logo are not just design elements; they represent magnetic waves reflecting Cisco’s business in networking and routing technologies.

But what’s even more interesting is that they also pay homage to the pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge. This landmark inspired Cisco’s first logo and has been consistently used as a central visual motif.

What I like: It‘s interesting to see how a structure has played such a significant role in shaping the design of a global technology company’s logo. The fact that the bridge has remained a central element in the logo‘s design across different iterations over the years speaks volumes about its influence on Cisco’s brand identity.

8. Vaio

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VAIO is a personal computer manufacturer that was introduced in the late 90s. It’s also one of the most well-known computer brands recognized for its distinctive logo. But, while the logo may appear to be a simple wordmark spelling out the business name, it actually holds a deeper meaning.

Consider the logo as two distinct parts rather than a single word.

“VA” is designed to resemble a sine wave, symbolizing analog technology. In contrast, “IO” represents digital technology, with its shape resembling the binary code “10.” Then, put together, this logo symbolizes the transition from analog to digital technology.

What I like: Vaio’s logo is more than just a design — it’s a narrative. It cleverly presents two concepts and seamlessly combines them to tell a story — all within the confines of a single wordmark.

9. Beats by Dre

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Beats by Dre is the brainchild of music legend Dr. Dre and music industry executive Jimmy Iovine. The company has been incredibly successful since its launch in 2006, making it one of the most prominent audio brands on the market.

The company logo, which incorporates a unique graphic element and a bold wordmark, is also one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

But, what many people don’t know is that there’s more to the logo than a “b in a red circle.”

Upon closer inspection, the Beats by Dre logo looks remarkably similar to a person wearing headphones. The red circle in the logo cleverly doubles as the head, while the lowercase b forms the shape of the earphones.

What I like: I find the logo‘s simplicity and directness in representing the brand’s core product refreshing. It‘s also quite obvious, to the point that users who don’t notice it often find it amusing when someone finally points it out to them.

10. Hershey’s Kisses

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Hershey’s was established in 1890 as the “National Chocolate Tablets.” However, the company was renamed after the founder in 1989. This was also when the “Hershey” name began featuring in the brand’s logo.

The Hershey’s Kisses chocolate line was first introduced in 1907 with a logo that featured the full product name and images of chocolate “kisses”. Over the years, the logo has undergone several changes, with the most recent version introduced in 2010.

Now, while there hasn’t been any official confirmation about the hidden message within this logo, several fans strongly believe that there is a hidden chocolate between the “K” and “I” in the word “KISSES” in the Hershey’s Kisses logo.

Whether this was deliberate or a coincidence of typography, no one can say for certain except the company itself. However, it is a fun detail that adds to the charm of the Hershey’s Kisses brand.

What I like: The hidden meaning behind the Hershey’s Kisses logo is mostly a fun and engaging fan theory — like several on this list. While there might not be an official confirmation from the company, I believe they’re still highly effective because they turn potentially mundane details into opportunities for discovery and intrigue.

11. Unilever

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Unilever was founded nearly a century ago in 1929. In 2004, the company refreshed its brand and introduced a new logo designed by Wolff Olins.

But this wasn’t just any logo. Instead, it featured 24 icons intricately woven to form the letter “U,” which represents Unilever. Each icon symbolizes a different aspect of Unilever‘s values and embodies various elements of the company’s ethos.

For instance, the chili pepper icon signifies Unilever‘s dedication to sourcing agricultural materials sustainably. And this is just one of the icons representing Unilever’s efforts to “make sustainable living commonplace.”

What I like: Unilever has an incredibly diverse portfolio that spans a range of industries. Creating a cohesive brand image through a single logo is no easy feat.

That’s why this logo is such a great demonstration of how thoughtful design choices can be used to communicate the essence of multifaceted brands.

12. Carrefour

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Carrefour is a French supermarket chain established in 1958. The first iteration of the company’s logo was introduced in 1960 and featured a graphical representation of Crossroads. This logo’s design was rooted in the brand’s name, which translates to “crossroads” in English.

This concept has continued as a central motif of Carrefour’s logo through every iteration since then, with the current design featuring two arrows pointing in opposing directions.

Besides embodying this idea, these arrows also contain a hidden message within the negative space they create. Upon closer inspection, one can see that the space between the two arrows forms a subtle yet unmistakable “C,” representing the brand’s initial.

What I like: I appreciate brands that can creatively use negative space in their logos.

Carrefour is a great example of how to do this right without overcomplicating things. This element adds a subtle touch that reinforces the brand’s identity without being overt or flashy.

13. Pittsburgh Zoo

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Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium opened to the public in 1898. Since then the zoo has gone from an “animal menagerie” to a conservation-focused institution.

The zoo’s logo currently features the image of a tree above a wordmark of the institution’s name. And while the tree might seem like the focal point of this design, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

On closer look, you can see four animals within the logo — the most obvious being the birds flying above the tree. But, what makes it truly interesting is examining the whitespace in the design.

The spaces to the left and right of the tree form the profiles of a gorilla and a lion. At the base of the tree, you can also see two fishes that appear to be jumping out of water.

These four images symbolize the wildlife found at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium.

What I like: You don’t get to see white space used this creatively often. I really enjoy how this logo pulls several complex images into a single design without visually overwhelming the viewer.

14. Roxy

 

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Roxy was launched as a female clothing line under the Quicksilver brand, and the company’s logo was designed to reflect its connection, albeit subtly.

At first glance, the logo depicts two hands cupped together to form a heart shape. However, upon closer inspection, eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the logo is two rotated Quicksilver emblems facing each other, creating the illusion of a heart shape.

It’s also interesting to note that the inspiration for the Quicksilver logo, and subsequently Roxy’s, comes from the famous Japanese artwork “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai. This iconic image features a towering, cresting wave with Mount Fuji in the background.

Both logos are simply modern interpretations of this artwork.

What I like: Roxy’s logo pays homage to its parent company in an exciting way. That said, how the emblems were incorporated into the logo allows the brand to maintain a unique identity separate from Quicksilver.

15. Tostitos

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Tostitos debuted under the Frito-Lay brand in 1979 and quickly became popular as the snack of choice for many social gatherings and parties. The branding has remained consistent since its inception, with the earliest version featuring a wordmark of the company name “Tostitos.”

Now, while the Tostitos logo has maintained its wordmark style, a redesign in 2003 added an intriguing element to enhance its visual storytelling.

At first glance, the logo appears as a simple wordmark featuring the brand name in a bold, modern font. However, a closer look reveals a clever visual trick embedded within the typography.

The “tit” in the typography forms an image of two people sharing chips and salsa. The two “t’s” represent the people, the “i” likely symbolizes a table, the yellow shape signifies the chips, and the red oval represents the salsa.

What I like: This design cleverly captures how Tostitos is typically enjoyed – within social settings. As the brand describes, “Tostitos are more than just tortilla chips and dips — they’re an invitation to catch up with friends.”

16. Tour De France

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The Tour de France has come a long way since its inaugural race in a Parisian suburb in 1903. Likewise, the logo has undergone significant changes, transitioning into a more vibrant design that reflects the race’s energy and excitement.

The current Tour de France logo was designed by Joel Guenoun in 2002. While seemingly simple at first glance, the logo features hidden imagery that adds depth to its design. The letter “R” in the logo, combined with the yellow circle, cleverly resembles a cyclist leaning over a bike.

This subtle yet effective design element not only captures the essence of the Tour de France but also celebrates the spirit of its participants.

What I like: The Tour de France logo incorporates elements of the event and the sport. Adding this creative detail not only represents the race but also captures the excitement and spirit of cycling.

17. NBC

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NBC was founded in 1926 as America’s first permanent radio network. By the 1930s, the company had started a regularly programmed television service and introduced the country’s first experimental compatible color broadcasts in 1953.

In 1956, NBC debuted the colored peacock design, which has inspired the most recent iterations of the company’s logo.

The current logo features “feathers” arranged in a semi-circle. However, unlike earlier versions, the peacock outline is cleverly hidden within the white space between the two central colors.

While the logo might look like a simple rainbow of colors to unknowing viewers, this stylized peacock represents NBC’s history and legacy.

Fun fact: The peacock was originally chosen as NBC’s logo in 1956 because the network was one of the first to broadcast in color. The peacock symbolizes this transition.

What I like: NBC has experimented with various logo designs. The original peacock logo and its recent iterations stand out to me as some of the most authentic representations of the brand and its legacy.

The modern redesign has allowed the brand to add more visual interest without losing the essence of this iconic design.

18. Audi

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Auto Union AG was formed in 1932 and renamed Audi in 1985. Upon its inception, the company introduced a logo featuring four rings, which have since become a fundamental part of the brand identity.

But what exactly do these rings represent?

Most people, except for automobile history buffs, might assume that the rings were simply an elegant design choice. However, they have a much deeper, historic meaning.

Audi was just one of four companies merged to form Auto Union AG. The four rings represent the four automobile manufacturers and the partnership between the four founder companies.

What I like: Audi’s logo is a tribute to the legacy of all the founder companies. It reflects their contributions to the automotive industry and, more importantly, their lasting impact on Audi’s identity.

19. Spartan Golf

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The Spartan golf logo was created by a designer called Richard Fonteneau.

At first glance, the logo appears to be a depiction of a golfer mid-swing. However, closer inspection also reveals a hidden image.

If you look closely at the logo, you‘ll notice that the image creates the appearance of a Spartan warrior’s side profile. The golfer‘s body forms the warrior’s face, and the trajectory of the swing mimics the shape of a Spartan helmet.

This logo cleverly integrates the hidden image in a manner that may not be immediately apparent to viewers. However, it becomes a brilliant addition that enhances the overall design once noticed.

What I like: What stands out to me about the hidden image in the Spartan Golf logo is how it beautifully represents the brand’s identity and team spirit. The image is a nod to the brand name “Spartan” and a visual representation that evokes strength, resilience, and the warrior ethos.

20. Goodwill

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Goodwill was established in 1902 by Rev. Edgar J. Helms. In 1968 the company began hunting for a new logo — an updated visual to reflect the institution’s evolution after over 50 years of operation.

The current logo, created by graphic designer Joseph Selam, was designed to “symbolize the many faces of self-sustaining people within Goodwill.” This redesign marked the introduction of the iconic “Smiling G.”

At first glance, Goodwill’s logo is the company name below a stylized ‘g’ graphic representing the brand.

While that is correct, there’s also a hidden image — both lowercase ‘g’s’ double as smiley faces. Joseph deliberately designed the logo to depict “the smile of self-respect and independence” of people who have successfully participated in Goodwill initiatives.

What I like: The logo reflects the organization’s core mission and the transformative effect of Goodwill’s work. It‘s a powerful visual cue that shows that it’s not just about providing jobs or skills but also restoring hope and self-confidence.

21. London Symphony Orchestra

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The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has a long and rich history, dating back to its formation more than a century ago in 1904.

A design agency called The Partners created the current version of the orchestra’s logo in 2004. This design features a stylized depiction of the company’s Acronyms, LSO, and a hidden image.

If you look hard enough, you’ll see that the graphic also doubles as an image of an orchestra conductor’s silhouette. The letters “L” and “O” form the conductor’s left and right hands, while the intersection of the “S” and “O” creates the head and shoulders.

What I like: The hidden image and overall design beautifully reflect the elegance and sophistication synonymous with the brand. The flowing lines of the logo also create a sense of movement and harmony which is a great visual representation of the orchestra’s music.

22. Pinterest

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Pinterest’s logo has significantly changed since the platform’s creation in 2010. Initially, the company used a black cursive wordmark. However, a few months later, it introduced the now-iconic “P” as part of a refreshed, colored wordmark.

This design element goes beyond simply representing the company name but also references the platform’s core functionality.

If you’ve ever noticed how the tail of the p looks sharpened well, it’s because the “p” in the logo doubles as a map pin. Essentially, by incorporating a visual element reminiscent of a pin, Pinterest directly references the concept of pinning on the platform.

What I like: As a visual platform, it‘s only fitting that Pinterest’s logo is a cleverly designed visual representation of its core functionality. I think this makes the logo memorable and reflects the company’s essence.

23. Adidas

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Adidas is a unique example of a company that uses several logos for its various sub-brands. However, the “performance logo” is currently its main brand mark.

The signature three stripes on this logo have been a prominent feature since the first Adidas logo design in 1949. Interestingly, there wasn’t any specific reason behind choosing three stripes, other than the fact that three showed up most prominently (amongst contenders) in photography.

The current version of this logo is an element of the “equipment logo,” which reimagined the three stripes as a three-bar arrangement. This design was inspired by sketching how the stripes appeared inside the shoe.

Today, the performance logo is fondly called the “Mountain Logo” due to its resemblance to a mountain peak, which represents the challenges athletes face and the goals they strive to achieve.

What I like: The history behind the logo, with its origins in the three stripes that have been a part of Adidas since its inception, adds depth and heritage to its design.

24. Coca-Cola

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Throughout its existence, Coca-Cola‘s logo has consistently featured a wordmark of the company’s name. The current iteration of this design doesn’t deviate from this principle, albeit with adjustments to the script and styling.

But what secret message is hidden in this simplistic logo?

Well, if you look closely at the space between the “O” and “L” in Cola, you’ll see the flag of Denmark. Or at least that’s what people have chosen to believe.

This theory is often debunked as a happy accident rather than an intentional design decision. That said, the company has embraced the association with the “happiest country on earth” through marketing stunts like an interactive airport ad in Denmark some years ago.

What I like: It’s fascinating to see how a logo can take on new meanings and associations through the imagination of its audience. The company’s willingness to lean into this “theory” also demonstrates a responsiveness to the sentiments of its audience.

25. LG

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According to LG, the company’s logo visualizes five concepts — World, Future, Youth, Human, and Technology. The design, which features the letters “L” and “G” within a circle, also visually signifies that the people “form the center of corporate management.”

Official interpretations aside, LG’s logo also contains a hidden image that some may not have noticed yet: it doubles as a stylized depiction of a human face.

The “G” forms the frame of a winking face, while the “L” represents the nose. The face also appears to be winking and smiling.

What I like: Incorporating a stylized human face adds an unexpected touch of warmth to the design. Additionally, it serves as a reminder of the humanity behind a large corporate entity like LG.

26. Hartford Whalers

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The Hartford Whalers were a professional ice hockey team based in Hartford, Connecticut, that competed in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1979 to 1997.

The original logo of the Hartford Whalers was created by graphic designer Peter Good when the team changed its name in 1979. The logo featured a blue whale tail positioned above a green, stylized “W” representing the word “Whalers.” Peter also included a hidden element in the space between the whale’s tail and the “W.”

The negative space takes the shape of the letter “H,” symbolizing Hartford, the city where the team was located. Combined with the “W,” this hidden “H” completes the full team name, Hartford Whalers.

What I like: Typically, I see whitespace used to reveal distinct elements in a design — a great example being the FedEx wordmark, where an arrow is hidden within the negative space. But here, the logo uses one letter to reveal the other.

27. Museum of London

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The Museum of London introduced a new logo during a 2008 rebranding project — a colorful and innovative design by a UK agency called Coley Porter Bell.

This logo, still used today, features several layers stacked atop each other. But, while visually engaging, the true brilliance lies in the significance behind these layers.

The logo uses each layer as a representation of London‘s ever-changing geography. This hidden image reflects London’s evolution and dynamic nature making it the perfect emblem for the Museum of London‘s mission to safeguard and celebrate the city’s past.

What I like: The logo mirrors the essence of the museum. Much like the museum, the logo serves as an invitation to explore history. Essentially, the logo is a perfect introduction to the Museum of London.

28. Wendy’s

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Wendy’s was founded by Dave Thomas in 1969 as a quick-service food chain. The company’s first logo featured the likeness of Melinda Lou, Dave’s daughter, and has continued in that tradition ever since.

While this fact alone makes the logo incredibly intriguing, the hidden message within the design adds an extra layer of interest.

For several years, it has been widely believed that the collar on the little girl in the most recent iteration of the logo spells out the word “mom.” However, this has never been officially confirmed.

Like Coca-Cola, Wendy’s is another example of an ‘audience-led’ logo theory.

What I like: Despite the absence of official confirmation, the continued acceptance of this interpretation demonstrates the power of an audience’s perception in shaping the meaning of a logo. It also highlights how viewers can engage with and imbue logos with personal significance.

29. Chick-fil-A

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Chick-fil-A’s origins date back to 1946, when it started as a restaurant named The Dwarf Grill. Over time, the business rebranded, with the first Chick-fil-A restaurant opening in 1967.

Now, while the hidden meaning in this logo may not be as discreet as some others, it’s still worth noting.

The design of the “C” in Chick is a subtle yet clever nod to the brand’s main offering. Simply put, it’s intentionally shaped to resemble the head of a chicken, the company’s core product.

What I like: While the hidden message may be more obvious than most other logos on this list, its simplicity makes it easy for viewers to spot and quickly associate the imagery with the brand. This immediate recognition strengthens brand association and reinforces the brand‘s identity in consumers’ minds.

30. Kolner Zoo

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The Kölner Zoo was founded in 1860. The primary visual element in the organization’s current logo is the image of an elephant walking forward.

What makes this logo interesting is how, similar to Pittsburgh Zoo, the design also hides the silhouettes of other animals within the image.

In this case, you can see a giraffe between the elephant’s trunk and front leg, a rhino between its front and back legs, and finally, what appears to be a rabbit’s ears between its hind legs.

What I like: The logo uses negative space concentrated at the bottom of a single image to create three separate images. The designer’s ability to achieve this without compromising the integrity or form of the original image is quite impressive.

Designing a multilayered visual experience

Subtle elements not only add depth to designs but also invite viewers to engage in a deeper understanding of the brand’s identity. Whether it’s the clever integration of icons or the strategic use of whitespace, each logo in this post is a testament to the thoughtfulness and creativity behind effective visual communication.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

 

How Clickbait Works: The Psychology Behind Clickbait

In this online era, it’s hard — if not impossible — to surf the web without coming across clickbait. I remember an era when all I could find were clickbait titles that lured me, such as “10 Tips to Help You Lose Weight in a Week.” What I’d find in these articles was little to no information about the topic; rather, the page would be filled with ads.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get people to pay attention in the age of social media, especially with the amount of online content. Thus, content writers increasingly turn to clickbait to stand out and achieve those valuable clicks.

Although some titles might surprise you, it’s gotten easier to identify what clickbait is and isn’t. But have you ever wondered why/how the clickbait works? What’s the psychology behind it that makes it nearly impossible to resist the click?

Let’s look at the science behind clickbait and how you can understand the common tricks used.

What’s considered clickbait?

To define the term, clickbait is content that “draws in interest and drives visitors to click a link that leads to a particular web page,” which all content marketers hope to achieve with their work.

The promise of amazing, thought-provoking, or startling information lies in clickbait, enticing us to click on the link. This includes every kind of content on the web, such as blogs, videos, infographics, news stories, interviews, etc., with a dramatic headline.

It’s important to remember that the key difference between clickbait and engaging material is that the former is typically low-quality. Thus, clickbait has a bad reputation in the world of content marketing. That explains why it’s now more important to focus on content that your readers want.

Looking for more guidance on building great content? You can check out our blog post templates to help elevate your content.

Common Clickbait Techniques

One of the more popular clickbait strategies is using controversial headlines. These attention-grabbing headlines frequently use dramatic language or exaggerated claims to encourage readers to click the link. Here are some examples:

“X Things You Won’t Believe About…”
“X Beauty Secrets that’ll Change Your Life”
“Ultimate Guide to Ranking Your Article in a Week”

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Apart from these sensationalized headlines, other clickbait tactics include emotive language and imagery. Also, clickbait headlines frequently include strong emotional terms like “shocking,” “amazing,” and “heartbreaking” to pique the user’s interest. Additionally, you can expect the header images to be visually appealing and emotionally engaging.

Let’s check out a few common samples:

“Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About X Celebrity”
“X Heartbreaking Stories About These Disney Stars You Should Know About”
“You’ll Never Guess These Amazing Techniques for Getting Clearer Skin”

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Another popular clickbait strategy is instilling a sense of urgency in us, making us want to click the link immediately to avoid missing out on something significant. Headlines with a sense of urgency, such as “Breaking news” or “You won’t believe what happened next,” intrigue readers to learn more.

Such headlines frequently take advantage of our anxiety over missing something significant, such as:

“You Won’t Believe How You Can Double Your Income in X Days”
“Breaking News: Why Were These Celebrities Shunned from the Oscars”
“The Secret to Understanding Your Sleeping Habits”

Considering these tactics, it’s easy to understand why clickbait content successfully grabs readers’ attention and encourages interaction. In fact, having a deeper understanding of these clickbait methods allows you to use clickbait responsibly to produce interesting content that genuinely informs and educates the user rather than deceives them.

Why Clickbait Works

A recent BuzzSumo study on the most shared headlines examined over 100 million stories and found that the phrases that generated the most engagement were “for the first time!” “you need to,” and “…of all time.”

Now, let’s come to why clickbait still grabs readers’ attention. How a headline is worded or presented can significantly impact how readers view the story. If it is made more memorable and engaging, the reader is more likely to notice, process, retain, and interact with certain information.

According to that theory, clickbait titles are effective because they appeal to our curiosity and need for immediate satisfaction. This brings us to our next point, which better explains the theory.

The Curiosity Gap

Although the idea behind the curiosity gap has existed for centuries, it wasn’t until recently that it was given a formal introduction/definition and name. The curiosity gap has gained popularity in the marketing and advertising industries to attract more customers and boost engagement.

Here’s where your content strategy can truly benefit from the psychology of curiosity gaps. If you have something that prompts readers to wonder about something they don’t know or seek more information about, they’ll click immediately to find the answers.

People succumb to clickbait for the same reason — curiosity. One could find it alluring to adopt a more sinister and deceitful strategy to capitalize on curiosity.

However, the curiosity gap works differently.

When creating content, it’s necessary to keep things open-ended since this provides you with a wonderful opportunity to employ creativity to satisfy your audience’s curiosity.

If you give them an unknown and then withhold the answer, you will lose their trust completely, eventually leading to lost followers.

Example of the Curiosity Gap

Here’s an example headline: “The ‘March Madness’ Effect on Company Culture — Win or Bust?” Now, let’s consider how this will pique readers’ interest.

Every American has at least heard of March Madness. My knowledge of the term piques my interest. How does basketball apply to business? Have I seen this at my workplace? I want to know more so I can understand the connection.

Numbers & Lists

Organization appeals to people, so numbers and lists are useful icons for quickly classifying information.

One simple and efficient technique to play the numbers game is to use headlines with numerals and list items. Generally, you must always use precise numbers to look confident and present yourself as an authority to users, leads, and clients.

Example of Using Numbers in the Headline

Let’s take this article, “5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan [Free Templates]” as an example. Notice how the headline clearly states the number and shows the readers a step-by-step process, which plays well into the psychology of organizing with numbers.

My Chrome browser is almost always a mess. I have so many tabs open with tasks to do and articles to read. Seeing a number helps me make a guess of how long it’ll take me to read the piece. Beyond that, I’ll be able to see how far along I am in the article as I read.

Finding How to Use ClickBait Best

A catchy and clickbaity headline may intrigue readers to visit a website. Nevertheless, clickbait typically does very little to encourage conversions and only succeeds in increasing visitors.

When a user clicks on a headline and believes that the content doesn’t provide the answer they want, they will quickly leave the website — increasing the website’s bounce rate.

You can guarantee more genuine engagement by understanding how to leverage curiosity better and understand unique concerns. Clickbait serves the same purpose by generating a psychological gap in curiosity or the urge to learn more.

So, without question, clickbait headlines are effective in drawing readers in and encouraging clicks when used correctly. Ultimately, providing true value in your content is more ethical and provides more significant results for your business than merely employing a misleading headline to drive traffic to your website.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.