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7 Horrifying Historical Origins of Famous Corporate Logos

You don't have to know a damned thing about Greek and Roman mythology to have heard of Pandora or the Trojans -- those characters have been used on company logos and by sports teams for as long as either has existed. After all, nobody holds the copyright on ancient myths. So why make up a new name for your company when you can just call it Cerberus?

A word of advice, though. Before you go sticking a mythological figure on your logo, take a few minutes to look up its story. Otherwise you get some downright hilarious unintentional results. Like ...

#7. The Starbucks Siren

The Symbol Is Used For:

A classy-looking figure to put on the coffee chain's sign and cups.

Via Beerstreetjournal.com
We always thought it was Heather Graham holding up two striped bass.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

Obsession, addiction and death.

If you're familiar with the Starbucks logo, it's probably because, statistically, you are inside a Starbucks right now. If you're not familiar with Starbucks, that's because you're a hypothetical person created just so we could give this paragraph a satisfying structure.

Either way, you may not have realized that the woman in their green label with the perky breasts and weird twin-fishtail deal going on is a siren from Greek mythology.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Her crotch has three handlebar mustaches, which means she may have Roosevelt blood.

According to the Starbucks blog, she was chosen as the logo because Starbucks was looking for a nautical theme to capture the spirit of Seattle. Remember that this was back in 1971, when Seattle was known for sailing and seaports instead of grunge rock, rain and hipsters.

In mythology, sirens are consistently seen as a personification of the ocean -- and that's not a good thing. They're brutal sociopaths who murder you by being attractive. According to scholars, they would sing an "irresistibly sweet" song that "lapped both body and soul in[to] a fatal lethargy." Sailors who crossed paths with a siren would become so obsessed that they would crash into the rocks and die.

Via Wikipedia
Though we like to think they were actually trying to run them over because the sirens played nothing but old Zeppelin covers.

Much in the same way that countless people have been seduced by the lure of overpriced coffee, buying cup after cup until they finally succumb, buying an Apple laptop and spending the rest of their lives at one of those tiny tables, joining the other broken victims.

#6. Versace's Medusa

The Symbol Is Used For:

The logo on a high-end Italian fashion label.

Getty
Man, we remember when the "I've fallen into a lake with my leather clothes on" look was huge.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

Vanity and promiscuity will ruin you.

Chances are you're familiar with the name Versace, even if it's only as "that word printed on things I can't afford." Just as iconic is the logo, based on Medusa:

Via Guijarrodesign.com
You should probably avoid trying their clothing on in front of a mirror.

And by Medusa, we mean a woman so hideous that looking upon her turned men into stone.

To Versace's credit, legend has it that Medusa was originally incredibly beautiful, so much so that she seduced the sea god Poseidon. The only problem is that they did the nasty thing inside the temple of Athena, another god who wasn't too happy about it. So Athena punished Medusa with the fangs and the hair-snakes and all that. The point is, this high-priced international fashion house based their logo on a cautionary tale about the dangers of lust and being too attractive.

Photos.com
Honestly, though? We'd still hit that.

Medusa's tale ends with her finally being beheaded. Her head was used as a weapon, since even when severed from her body it was still ugly and dangerous. Also, the blood that spilled from the head turned into poisonous snakes that infested the world. Now go buy some sexy-ass clothes, damn you!

#5. Trojan Condoms

The Symbol Is Used For:

Condoms, presumably to project strength and masculinity.

Via Yourlogoresources.com
Don't forget head. It definitely projects head.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

A container that broke open and released a murderous swarm of warriors.

They might be the most famous example, but the biggest condom company in the U.S. is hardly the only instance of somebody using "Trojan" as their mascot. The University of Southern California uses it as the mascot for their sports teams, and Googling around will reveal lots of companies adopting it for their name and logo. And why not? Trojans were badass warriors. Troy is, after all, the city that withstood an assault from the entirety of Greece for 10 straight years. Strong, resilient, everything you could want in both a football team and something that hugs your boner during sex.

Via Wikipedia
Makes you want to drag dead bodies behind your chariot like wedding cans.

But ask anyone what they think of when they hear the word "Trojan," and they're going to tell you about the Trojan horse. The most famous part of the Trojan war story. You know, at the end, when Troy lost. You know the story, right? The invaders built a huge wooden horse, their soldiers hid inside of it and the Trojans stupidly wheeled it inside their walls? Then the soldiers sneaked out and murdered everyone?

After all, that's how we get another popular usage of the word "Trojan," the kind of computer virus. It's not called that for its ability to trap semen. Instead, it's a benign-looking download that opens up and releases seven billion animated gifs of dicks onto your hard drive.

Photos.com
"His tail is raising! Unplug the tower!"

So what we're saying is that "Trojan" was probably not the best choice of words for something you're trying to convince a woman to put inside her body. Unless the goal was to convince her it was safe, before ...

Ah, never mind.

#4. The Volkswagen Phaeton

The Symbol Is Used For:

A line of luxury sedans.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

A reckless teen who almost destroyed the world with his shitty driving.

Motor companies tend to name their cars based on what rolls nicely off the tongue. Either it's a meaningless, simple word (Ford Escort, Honda Civic) or it's one that invokes thoughts of speed and danger, like "viper" or "mustang." So Volkswagen probably just thought "Phaeton" was a cool word. After all, it sounds like a weapon out of Star Trek or something.

Getty
Or every dance crew ever formed.

They presumably did not know that the story of Phaeton from Greek mythology is the tale of a headstrong young man who, when he came of age, asked to borrow his father's chariot. When his father said, "Sure, whatever," Phaeton went out, had some fun and almost crashed it before Zeus killed him with a lightning bolt. We all have a similar story from our youth.

Phaeton was the son of Apollo, the god who carried the sun across the sky, so his "chariot" he was borrowing was also towing the sun around. So maybe that was the idea, that this car is so badass that you'll feel like you're driving a chariot hauling the massive, burning sun behind you?

Getty
Or Matthew Perry, which is pretty much the same load.

But that just makes the story worse, since crashing his chariot meant crashing the sun into the Earth. So Volkswagen named their luxury sedan after a near-apocalyptic drunk driving incident. One that was only avoided because someone murdered the driver before he could do any further damage.

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