How to Spot a Great Logo and the Impact of Superliminal Design

Logo Spotting

What Is Superliminal Design?

From Subliminal to Superliminal

When interacting with a brand there are 3 different levels of awareness: subliminal, liminal, and superliminal. Each of them plays a very specific role in brand design and our waking consciousness.

Subliminal design comes into play with things like color choice.

Take a moment to view the swatches collection below.

How do you feel when you let your eyes relax on them? What connotations come up for you? Are there certain memories that are triggered? What about smells? Associations with people? Subliminal triggers lie beneath the surface of your awareness but still elicit a response within your mind.

Let’s bring this example into the liminal space-the space in the mind where it can sync the message and the awareness of the mind.

As we begin to name and codify entities, we bring awareness to them and our consciousness recognizes them as discrete and concrete associations. The introduction of text into a system can bring the subliminal message to the forefront of our waking consciousness, making it exist in the liminal space.

The thing about liminal space is that it’s very easy to manipulate, and it’s very obvious when the manipulation happens. Here is the same set of subliminal colors, but a different set of liminal classifications can alter the associations.

Ascending to the Superliminal

In contrast to the subliminal which exists below awareness, superliminal exists above awareness. It’s one of those things that are right in front of you, but you haven’t seen it yet. It’s like looking for your lost keys for an hour then realizing they’ve been in your hand the whole time. It’s the puzzle and the solution presented at the same time, but you still get that shot of dopamine when you solve it.

Humans have been doing this for over 40,000 years by creating abstract symbols that capture everything from spiritual philosophy, education systems, and scientific endeavors. However, it takes a highly skilled person to create something in the superliminal space that is cogent enough to be understood on all 3 levels of awareness.

Superliminal Logo: Moveworks

The logo contains 3 main messages from the superliminal:

  1. The combined triangle forms communicate the sense of fast-forward movement, a direct connection to the Moveworks name, and its goal as a brand: instantaneous resolution.
  2. It brings two sides of the conversation together-the top and bottom representing IT and users respectively.
  3. It contains the monogram of the company name-MW in a connected and cohesive shape.

Arriving at a logo that is this concise is rare and incredibly difficult to achieve. It’s the needle in the haystack to have multiple messages being delivered as well as containing the monogram letters in the form without being disruptive to the message.

Superliminal Logo: Material

The only properties that are modified to construct the logo are the lengths of the lines that create the angle. The lines are repeated to create a 3-dimensional infinite tunnel which references 3 main parts of Material’s solution:

  1. Radical resilience-the infinite tunnel shows the never-ending resilience and the angle that creates the 3D illusion represents the radical-it’s an entirely different solution than the rest of the market.
  2. Material secures from the inside-out. We are able to see the inside of the tunnel as well as the outside.
  3. Defense of depth is Material’s main tenant of security. Once one layer is breached there is another layer right after it ad infinitum.

Superliminal Logo: Genki

The individual spark is a simple rounded rectangle. Each spark is then distributed continuously around a perfect circle. Every other spark is rotated 45 degrees. This symbolizes 3 main things:

  1. The individuality of each contributor and that each contribution is adding to the whole.
  2. Each contribution is equally valuable. There is no hierarchy of ideas.
  3. The form is then modified to create the letter G to further drive the association with Genki home.

Does Your Brand Need a Superliminal Logo?

Below are some of the most famous brands in the world that do not employ superliminal design in their logos.

And here are some of the most famous brands that do in fact employ superliminal design in their logos.

Superliminal logos aren’t for every brand. They’re like puzzles that give your audience an additional little gift if they are open to it. The advantages of a superliminal logo are that it’s long-lasting, able to evolve over time and still retain the underlying concepts, easy to recognize and draw by hand, and lends itself to a systemic approach to the rest of the brand-ensuring a consistent thread through all components of a brand.

Not every brand needs a superliminal logo, but if it does happen take a moment to realize you’ve just seen a unicorn.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

Take a glance at our larger body of work.

Originally published at on September 10, 2020.

Emotive Brand is a strategy and design firm: We work with executives to drive growth in revenue, brand, and culture #b2b #tech #b2c #product #growth #branding

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