Fans are just realising there's an optical illusion in this NHL logo

Designers can sometimes pack a lot into a logo design: historic symbolism, local geographical references... even the occasional optical illusion. The Minnesota Wild logo manages to fit in all three.

The team's been playing in the US and Canada's National Hockey League (NHL) for over a decade now, and its logo has become a familiar sight. But some fans are only just noticing that the design features an optical illusion that's as wild as the team's name – and they can't decide what it shows (see our pick of the best optical illusions for more visual wonders).

Minnesota Wild logo, which contains an optical illusion

Can you see the optical illusion in the Minnesota Wild logo? (Image credit: Minnesota Wild)

The Minnesota Wild logo is the work of graphic designer Stephen O'Laughlin, who was contracted ahead of the team's first season back in the year 2000. His design tells several stories. At the most superficial level, it shows a forest scene at dusk, with the sun setting over a lake and a star in the sky.

The scene alludes to the state's geography and its nickname as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But the design is also loaded with historic symbolism because the star is intended as a tribute to the former NHL team and Wild predecessors the Minnesota North Stars. But step back, and you might notice that there's also something else going on in the logo.

A rather literal optical illusion makes the whole design look like the head of a wild animal – a clever reference to the team's name. The lake forms the animal's mouth, and the North Star becomes its eye. According to some fans, there might be even more to it.

The club itself has said that the optical illusion logo depicts a non-specific 'wild animal,' and that's left fans divided over what animal it is: some say a bear, others a cat. Some have even attempted to prove their theory over the years by "uncropping" the design Since we first published this article, a fan has written to us to point out that the 'mouth' of the river also looks like a loon, which is Minnesota's state bird.

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People have been seeing optical illusions all over the place in US sports team logos in recent years. Some appear to be intentional, such as the Atlanta Falcons logo, while others appear to be entirely accidental, such as the 'E' in the Philadelphia Eagles logo – and the 'hidden M' that some people have managed to find in the Dallas Mavericks logo (see below).

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Dallas Mavericks logo

You have to use a little imagination to see an optical illusion in the Dallas Mavericks logo (Image credit: Dallas Mavericks)

It just goes to show that a logo design can say a lot more than what first meets the eye. See our pick of the best animated logos and the best circular logos for more inspiration.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.