At First Sight: Subliminal Marketing Messages You May Have Missed

You may be familiar with the concept behind subliminal messaging.  Around the holidays, brick and mortar stores will often use scent diffusers to make their shops smell like cinnamon and pine, which can bring a sense of nostalgia and comfort to customers. 

Brands also engage shoppers subconsciously using colors, shapes, and words for people to associate them with certain sentiments. Here are three companies who use visual subliminal marketing to make major splashes in popular culture, right in front of your eyes.


They have used their current logo for nearly 20 years. It is meant to look like a smile, which seems glaringly obvious, but  what you may not have noticed is that the arrow “connects A-Z”, sending the message that they have you covered at
each point of the consumer journey.  It is meant to make you feel safe to shop at a reliable online store. 


For nearly twenty years, the main accessory that comes with each Apple product are the famous all-white earbuds. Apple’s release of the iPod in 2001 sent the company’s brand awareness sky-high. Prior to this, all headphones were black (some other colors were available, but rarely).  

When you encountered someone wearing those white headphones, you knew, without even seeing the technology, that they were listening to an Apple product. Today, those earbuds have evolved to white AirPods, but Apple remains a powerful global status symbol.

Disney Pixar

Disney Pixar Productions use so many hidden references and subliminal messages that fans actively search for them throughout their films. They often hide characters and props from previous movies within upcoming films. One important and subliminal reference is the Luxo balla prop for Luxo, Jr., the living lamp that composes the Pixar logo. 

The Luxo ball is featured in the Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Cars trilogies. It also appears in Up, Brave, Inside Out, and many more. Using the Luxo ball creates continuity among the Pixar movies and thus makes the Pixar a recognizable, filmmaking powerhouse.

If you want to impress your followers and clients, be smart and creative with your content. When the message is intelligent and subtle, the message will be noticed and can create a major cultural impact.  

Consumers get excited when they notice a hidden meaning within your brand, and it becomes a topic of conversation at gatherings. After all, the oldest form of marketing is word of mouth.