Monday, April 22, 2019

Answer: What's that logo?


Visually, the world is full of unknowns...

And this week we took on the Challenge of figuring out how to identify logos.  

Recently, SRS Regular Reader Jacob sent me this wonderful holiday card he received that was made up entirely of logos.  Designed by Marc Reiner, it's a gem of a card design.  

On the one hand, it's a fun and playful design.  I recognized a bunch of logos immediately (Pintrest, Yahoo, Amazon, etc.) -- but could you name them all?   I couldn't.

Logo holiday card by Marc S. Reiner (Hand Baldachin and Assoc. LLP)

This is a great reminder that image identification is a valuable skill to have.  And clearly, this particular card pulls a lot of logos together for us to ID.  

Here is our three-part Challenge for the week: 

1.   Can you identify all of the logos shown here?  What are they?
2.  If you wanted to search just for logos, is there a way to do just that?  How about just searching for logos in the EU?  
3.  For what  product is this the logo?  (The usual tricks might/might-not work here.)  

As we've talked about before, subimaging is probably the way to go.  That is, since the card is composed of a bunch of individual logos, we can extract each logo and do a Search-By-Image on that.  (If you haven't seen it, check out my short YouTube video on this.  It's a One Minute Morceau on Search-By-Image.) 

And in our case, we could divide up the holiday card into 12 different small images.  

But as we discussed in an earlier episode (A new search-by-image method on Bing), Bing Image search has a great way to interactively search for parts of a larger image.  Here's an illustration of the normal / old way of doing search-by-image (SBI).  You upload or drag the image from your computer into the Image search.  

A diagram showing me dragging a image from my desktop into Bing's SBI tool.  
But the brilliant Bing SBI tool lets you specify the cropping that you'd like.   (That's the turquoise cropping widget in the image below.)  

Here I've cropped into the letter "H" in the image.  Once you release the crop, it immediately pops up the related images.  You can see on the "Similar Images" region that this subimage is pretty clearly the History Channel logo.  

You can do this for the other letters on the card. Just drag and drop the cropping window to search for those individual logos. 

HOWEVER... It doesn't work for all of them.  In particular, Bing SBI can't quite figure out the script P, the yellow rectangle, the S with the arrowhead tail, the red O with a ship on top, and the squishy L logo.  So, while it's a brilliant tool, it doesn't get everything right.  

To get those logos (P, rectangle, S, O, L), I had to chop up the image into subimages and then do a regular Google SBI on those.  Here's Google SBI for the script P logo: 

You can do this with all of the logos. 

There's an important lesson here... Not all tools necessarily work for everything.  Although Bing's SBI works really well, there are a couple of images it can't find.  For those, I switch to Google's SBI.  (And, pro tip, if both of those don't work, I've sometimes gone to for their SBI tool which also works very well.)  

Interestingly, the yellow rectangle with the blue center did not work with ANY SBI tool.  I ended up going to regular Google Image search with the query: 

     [ logo yellow rectangle ] 

Why that?  I wanted the simplest possible description of the logo, and that was it.  Remarkably, this works!  The search led me to several articles and images about this logo design for National Geographic.

Finding the S + arrow logo was a little trickier.  I did a regular SBI on Google, but then had to edit the query to include the word "logo"  (see below).  That worked perfectly well, and I was able to confirm that this was the Subway logo!  Note that it wasn't exactly the same as the logo letter we searched for, but it was the same color AND had the funny arrow.  (It also had a green additional arrow, but when I clicked through to the article, it was clearly the right thing.) 

Using all of these tricks (the Bing tool and using regular Google SBI on subimages that Bing couldn't handle), I was able to identify all of the logos: 

History channel
Phillip Lim

Holiday Inn
Old Spice
I - National Geographic
Atena (marketing firm in Padova)    (Error was mine.  Remmij pointed out the error of my ways.  Thanks!)  
Aware -- (the Association of Women for Action and Research)  

Interestingly, when I wrote this Challenge, the cat logo was really hard to find.  Google Search-by-Image didn't work, neither did Bing's.  When I tried Yandex (which also has a pretty good search-by-image function), it found something pretty close!  

Here's the target image: 

And here's what I found using search-by-image on 

Not quite, but pretty darn close!  

Just out of curiosity, and making a guess that this was either a vet's logo OR a cat food logo, I tried this as a regular old Image search: 

     [ cat food logo ] 

I was a bit surprised to find this just a few rows down! 

Truthfully, that was just a lucky guess.  (But luck happens to those who are prepared and willing to try a few extra queries.) 

Search Lessons 

Working backwards from the end: 

1.  Sometimes if you guess at what the image might be, you'll get lucky.  Obviously, it wasn't a random guess on my part--it was either X or Y (cat food or cat vet)... and my first guess proved correct. 

2. Using the Bing subimaging tool is pretty fast and effective for searching in multiple places inside of a complex image.  It's a quicker way to search for subimages, and if you have a lot of them, this is a great gadget to use. 

3.  Remember that there are multiple tools out there for Search-By-Image.  If Google doesn't work for you, try Bing, or Yandex--they're all great tools, and some cover images that the others don't.  Keep trying!  

Dan's P.S.  

Sorry about the delay, again...  Wednesdays have become complicated with a few meetings that I can't reschedule.  PLUS, this week I was superbusy trying to create the index to "The Joy of Search."  If you've never done it, believe me, it's not a trivial exercise.  What DO people want to search for in your print book?  In any case, that was a good 20 hours of work inbetween this and that.  

Dan's P.P.S.   

Just so you'll have a sense of what it's like when I solve these Research Challenges, I recorded my path as I answered these questions.  Then I edited it a bit to give some color commentary and a word or two of wisdom. 

Let me know what you think! 


  1. GREAT catch, Remmij. I'd love to say I was testing y'all to see if anyone was paying attention... but the truth is much more mundane. It was just a copy/paste error (followed by sloppy proofreading on my part). I have repaired the post. Sorry about that. (And thanks again, Remmij. Glad to see you're fact-checking me!)

  2. disclosure: wasn't fact checking… just thought I'd missed the boat — was wondering if I was even at the right port…
    c/l SADIDA eht si ti kniht …noitseuq ni "a" eht ees t'nod llits I tub ,naD sknahT
    @ 42 seconds in… PLEH
    Herzogenaurach, Germany
    adidas logo history - Adolf 'Adi' Dassler
    "The typeface used is a simple lower case sans-serif font specifically created for adidas and according to research it can be recreated using a combination of the typefaces Litera Heavy and Helvetica Bold."
    let's get ready to Rummmmmble
    the vid explanation is good and certainly carries more info than just text… but seem like they would be tedious to make…
    these need more views… tough in the YT Vortex/MixMaster
    this "Reiner"? note logo — it must be a different one, reiner, that is
    Y'ex - does this make me guilty of collusion?
    and why did this tFeed suddenly appear unannounced?

  3. btw, whenever I attempt to bing, I seem to end up bunged…perhaps it's the goo antibodies?
    "Antibodies are the key element in the adaptive immune system. The antibody recognizes a unique part of the foreign target called an antigen."
    "antigen: a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body, esp. the production of antibodies."

    1. Hi Remmij!
      After reading Dr. Russell's answer searched [best ways to search image] results gives us new tools. I am trying some specially from the article in lifewire, beebom and searchenginejournal. Tineye looks as Google always. Tried Tineye multicolor, sadly in my lap doesn't work. Also didn't know Pinterest has similar search tool zoom as Bing just that you need to have an account, pin and search.

      Also searching read that Chrome Canary now has Reading Mode and searching more found the experimental 'Distill page', any of you tried it?

  4. Good Morning, Dr. Russell and everyone

    I like the Challenge and the video. The video explains and helps to understand even more things. For example, I had the doubt about if image size affects the results and if you, Dr. Russell, made those logos bigger to search.

    In the search for S of Subway, noticed in the video that one query before you got the S, as you write in the answer. was a surprise. First time I read about them. I'll go and visit.

    My biggest question comes from the a. As you mention and showed, there are millions of A. How you selected Aware? I like Remmij thought it is Adidas. Aware was also new for me and searching noticed their logo a, now is very different.

  5. Most excellent video. I appreciate you taking time away from your real project du jour, to show us mortals how you worked this one. jon tU

  6. another logo of related interest…
    another "wing-like" logo (from the Austin sponsors…)
    Macmillan SERP - Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings LP
    German, far reaching
    Springer Nature
    fwiw, Ramón prompted me to look — Chrome Canary (Unstable) Get on the bleeding edge of the web with Chrome Canary designed for experienced developers and updated nightly.
    Canary … is ""CoalMine (mind) out there, somewhere?
    an explanation