Using Optical illusions in Logos and Website Design

One of the main principles of both logo and website design is to be memorable to the target audience. An effective logo is one which will be strongly associated with a particular company, therefore raising brand awareness. Websites act as virtual store-fronts, designed with the intention of attracting potential clients and customers for a particular enterprise.

Optical illusions can prove to be a valuable tool in grabbing viewer’s attention, be it with a brand logo or a company landing page. Such design methods have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a way to transform a standard image into an entertaining conundrum. Here is a guide on how the efficacy of company logos and websites can be greatly increased with the clever use of optical illusions.

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How Do Optical illusions Work?

There are a vast variety of optical illusions, but they all work around the same basic premise: tricking the brain. One particularly popular form of optical illusion is paradoxical shapes. Upon first glance, such shapes will appear quite normal to the viewer, such as a table or set of stairs. However, all is not as it seems. One second the table may appear to have four legs, the next it looks as if it rests on six. Such illusions have an unparalleled ability to captivate the viewer, making them question what it is they are actually seeing.

The reason that such optical tricks have such a profound effect is because the brain doesn’t expect the object to be out of the ordinary. Instead of acknowledging the object to be a paradox, viewers initially try to make sense of these bizarre and surreal forms. Depending on the complexity of the optical illusion, it can take quite some moments before viewers accept that what they perceive cannot actually exist. There are many other popular optical illusions that are widely used for the purposes of entertainment, or simply to capture the attention of the audience.

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Optical illusions trick the brain into perceiving unusual visual phenomena. Image source: Dennis S. Hurd

Another famous and perplexing type of image is one that appears to be in motion, despite the fact that it is merely a static drawing. Such illusions can invoke quite strong fascination from the viewer, making them ideal for the purposes of logos and websites. By being intriguing yet entertaining, optical illusions are sure to stick in the minds of those who see them. With the power that optical illusions have to both draw attention and make viewers second-guess themselves, they can be the perfect addition to any corporate logo or website in need of that extra touch.

Real-world Objects

An increasingly popular use of optical illusions for logos is on real-world objects. With some careful planning and creativity, anything from a billboard to a bus can be turned into a giant optical illusion. One famous example of using this method to boost brand-awareness is superimposing images of cars onto larger vehicles. For instance, a standard van when viewed side-on can appear to have a sports car next to it. Using such techniques can be both eye-catching and humorous, making them perfect for featuring company logos.

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Pavement illusions can be particularly effective. Image source: Rosalind Hughes

One type of optical illusion which is being increasingly utilized to showcase logos is pavement drawings. By using a little know-how with how the viewer’s depth perception and perspective will change how they see such drawings, artists can create what appear to be massive chasms within the pavement. Those standing over the artwork may appear to be teetering on the edge of certain doom to bystanders, or perhaps looking into another realm that lies underneath the road. Because of the great entertainment value such illusions possess, many companies are hiring such street artists to incorporate their logos or products within the drawings. By using these semi-interactive and fascinating methods, companies can both make their logos stick in the minds of viewers, as well as simultaneously improving brand image.

Changing the Familiar

A sure-fire way to ensure that an optical illusion grabs the attention of everyone who sees it is by making it appear to skew familiar or famous objects. For example, it is easily possible to create illustrations of popular structures and landmarks that have been adapted to trick the brain. A never-ending staircase or an impossible Stonehenge can be a powerful means of intriguing passers-by and creating an association between a brand or logo and the original object.

Another familiar sight that can be easily manipulated to become optical illusions are images of animals. Similarly to how a table may be rendered to have an impossible arrangement of legs, so too can the likes of an elephant. Once again, by incorporating such visual trickery onto familiar sights, companies can associate their logos with these everyday things.

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Can you count the elephant’s legs? Image source: Roger Shepard

To make the most out of such optical illusions, the images used should be somehow relevant or related to the logo or brand. An example could be a safari tour operator using the paradoxical image of an elephant to instantly intrigue and captivate their audience. With some clever brand-association logos can be transformed form a mere form of identification to active method advertising.

Contrast Trickery

One of the most profound optical illusions involves taking advantage of how the brain perceives color. There are many optical illusions that take advantage of this contrast phenomenon, as the end result can be truly mesmerizing. To achieve contrast illusions, the viewer is asked to stare at a negative-colored image for a period of time, and then they simply have to blink rapidly whilst looking at a blank wall. With this ingenious illusion, the audience end up seeing the original full-color image before their very eyes.

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Stare at the center of the image for 30 seconds. then, look at a pale colored surface (wall, etc.). Who do you see?

One excellent use for this form of optical illusion is with website logos. By carefully crafting an inverted image of a company logo, viewers can have a fun and interactive experience whilst paying close attention to the website in question. There is an almost unlimited variety of images that can be fashioned in this way, making contrast illusions ideal for almost any website logo or design.

A Matter of Perspective

The brain perceives the size and orientation of objects relative to neighboring points of reference. Because of this, it is possible to make identical shapes or objects appear to be of a vastly different scale to one another. A famous example of this is the Ebbinghaus illusion. The Ebbinghaus illusion entails two identical circles, each surrounded by other circles of differing size. Although the size of the two original circles remains identical, one appears to be much smaller due to their neighbors. This type of illusion is a brilliant way to engage the audience, perplexing them in an entertaining fashion.

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Which orange circle is bigger? Image source: Wikipedia

Other geometrical shapes can be manipulated in this way too. For example, the likes of parallel lines can be made to appear as is if they are actually wonky with the use of alternating neighboring shapes. This can be a handy method for website designers who want to draw the viewer’s attention to a specific area of a site. By incorporating subtle optical illusions into websites, a formerly mundane page can be transformed into a fascinating interactive experience.

Trick Photography

Not all optical illusions have to be illustrations or drawings, trick photography can be an effective tool also. With some creativity and well-timed shots, photographs can be made to appear as is defying the laws of physics. From people floating in mid-air, to standing horizontally on a wall, trick photography is a brilliant way of giving websites a way of captivating visitors. This form of optical illusion can be cheap yet effective, bringing an interesting and creative element to any website.

It is possible to use trick photography to make company products appear to be merged with famous sights and landmarks. Be it the London Eye acting as a bicycle wheel, or the Eiffel Tower being used as a giant bottle opener, using such optical illusions will allow brands and products to be associated with famous locations.

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Trick photography can be truly fascinating like using your legs to hold the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Image source: Marty Portier

Trick photography provides the ability to create optical illusions that are relevant to the website in question. From online clothing outlets to extreme sports forums, putting an unusual twist on website images is sure to grab the attention of viewers and make them want to stay longer. Trick photography can be tailored to the subject matter of the website, making is a versatile tool.

Image Warping

For companies who want their logo to make everyone take a second glance, image warping is the perfect optical illusion. By surrounding a standard logo with specially-designed concentric shapes, the background appears to ripple and change shape in real-time. An excellent method for making a logo the centerpiece of its surroundings, image warping can produce some truly fantastic results.

Although image warping illusions can be a great addition to any website, designers should take care not to over-do it. Using this type of optical illusion sparingly will add that desired element of intrigue, without detracting from what the website is trying to get across. By creating a focal point with warping images, websites will be able to make visitors stay longer, therefore improving site performance. With image warping, viewers receive and unexpected treat, leaving them truly fascinated.

Hidden Text

Hidden text illusions will make website visitors give their full focus to what is being said. There are many types of hidden text illusions, each making the viewer have to change their perspective to read the message. For example, some illusions may simply require the user to squint their eyes in order to see the text, whereas others may simply manifest the hidden words if the user looks hard enough.

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The original “FedEx” logo had the hidden right-pointing arrow in the negative space between the “E” and the “X”, which represents the speed and accuracy of the companies deliveries.

Once again, this form of optical illusion can add a new dimension to the viewer experience. By actively engaging a given audience in this way, they are more likely to continue browsing the website and remember what is being said. Viewers are sure to become fascinated when they are required to decrypt a hidden message.

Distinguishing Brands

With the world of business being so competitive, it can be difficult to excel and become a strong company competitor. Incorporating optical illusions within logos is a great way for companies to stand out from the crowd. Companies who can appear as both innovative and creative to potential clients are sure to secure more custom. By breaking the norm and taking a different approach to company image and brand-awareness, companies can attract a larger client base and improve their overall performance.

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Amazon’s logotype has been an arrow leading from A to Z, representing that they carry every product from A to Z and the smile on the customers face when they bought a product.

Boosting website Traffic

Most internet users will only linger on a particular website for a short period of time, especially if the site in question appears to be generic and bland. With the added visual appeal that optical illusions afford, visitors will want to stay longer. From creating a unique and stylish website aesthetic to showing a sense of humor, websites are sure to benefit from incorporating some well-planned optical illusions into their design. With the increase in site traffic that comes from a truly original design, profitability can be substantially increased. With a relatively small amount of legwork, optical illusions can completely transform a website.


Optical illusions can have an impact on a target audience quite like no other images. With an aesthetically pleasing logo that contains some form of illusion, companies can greatly increase their brand-awareness and improve their public image. From showcasing the latest products in unconventional places, to producing breath-taking and paradoxical artworks, there are many ways in which companies can use the power of optical illusions to their advantage.

Websites looking to boost performance and attract more visitors can use optical illusions to both entertain and mentally stimulate their audience. With some creative inspiration and knowledge of how people perceive the world around them, websites can tailor optical illusions to produce some excellent results. From strong focal points to hidden messages, many websites can benefit from the use of optical illusions.

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  1. Very nice read. I like how trick photography is done and tried sometimes myself as well. Its fun.

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  2. amazing piece of work!

  3. I have taken lot of tips about illustrator, i like your article about Optical illusions. You use excellent some image that,s main look totally change.

  4. these were alright but not the best! good though

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