Witty Thinking…

I initially liked the idea of dual functionality of product packaging (like the light bulb packaging), this led me to consider all mediums with dual meanings such as logos, advertisements with wit.

My research began with the book; A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart. This book is about making graphics memorable by using witty thinking. It argues that ideas which happen in the mind stay in the mind. It was very interesting to read explanations of different types of wit and to view some great examples.

This book states the following:

“If you want to recognise wit in graphics, look for the ‘familiar’ and ‘the play’.”

It further explains that the familiar is the standard visual/icon, and the play is the unexpected outcome. Therefore when viewing examples of wit I considered what was the familiar and what was the play…

Examples of wit in practice:


FEDEX logo. Landor Associates, USA. (1994) Page: 28.
Familiar = The word ‘FEDEX’. The play = The hidden arrow between the E and X (which is unexpected, a surprise).

wine poster-1

Wine photography show poster. The Partners, UK. (1988) Page: 40.
Familiar = the camera on the poster. The play = the fact that the shape of the camera is actually objects related to wine.

Source: McAlhone B. and Stuart D. (1996) A Smile in the Mind. London: Phaidon Press Ltd.

These examples are also seen as ambiguous wit because there are two images in one, so you either see it as one image or the other, and the mind switches between the two.

The alphabet section of the book encouraged me to look into typographic wit. I have seen various logo’s with elements of this, which I have posted on my pinterest board. Here are a couple from my selection…

Minimalistic examples of wit within design;


Designer Unknown. Black Cat (The familiar: the words.  The play: cats eyes)

Source: http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/20-logos-with-clever-negative-space


Designer Unknown. Pause (The familiar: the word. The play: the pause sign)

Source: http://illusion.scene360.com/design/17169/logos-with-double-meaning-2/

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