I love this logo.
It's everywhere in New York - on vans and shops - and every time I see it it makes me smile.
I point it out to people and each time they're surprised.
Can you see it?
OK - look at the negative space between the E and X. This picture really highlights it.
Now what do you see?
The arrow is practically subliminal - you almost never notice it unless it's been pointed out - but once you see it you it jumps out every time.
It's a masterpiece of design - transforming a mundane and over used symbol, designed to communicate speed and precision, and elevating it into something beautiful and rewarding.
The designer, Lindon Leader, sums up the effect:
The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a “hidden bonus.” Importantly, not “getting the punch line” by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication.
It's similar to the layered meanings that that Jason discussed here. The design rewards the viewer when they 'get it', but not 'getting it' doesn't detract from it's ability to communicate. Rather, it adds another layer to be appreciated.
What's more, the hidden device becomes a social object of sorts - a piece of social currency:
I can’t tell you how many people have told me how much fun they have asking others “if they can spot ‘something’ in the logo.”
Easter eggs have long been a feature of films and games - the hidden message or object rewards those who are more involved and digging them out triggers the formation of knowledge communities - it seems like a very sensible trope for brand communicators to embrace.
A hidden bonus is a great way to start conversations.