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Take a look at the eight logos below; I’m betting you’re familiar with every one of them. Even if, at first glance, you’re a little unsure about a couple, hovering over the graphic to see its title text will no doubt foster a silent revelation… “ohhh, yeah. I knew that”.

Warner MusicPepsiSchwarzkopfMitsubishiWindowsAppleNikeAdidas

So what is it about these symbols, these miniature signifiers of the corporations and products we interact with in the real world, that make them so recognizable? Here they’re stripped of their color and their context; they aren’t printed on a t-shirt or stamped onto a car chassis or computer case, they’re just there. Down to the bare.

Of course, that’s exactly it, and it’s exactly what I love about them and the hundreds of logos like them. You reduce them to one color and they’re still instantly familiar. There’s been such a mad rush in the last half-decade to make your logo more flashy, more photorealistic, more 3D, more animated that we’ve moved a long way from this simplicity.

But there’s something else. Something very subtle. Here’s a hint.

Every one of these logos could be cut out, or stenciled, and remain true to its form. I think that’s marvelous.