Fox Intercultural Consulting’s Clever Logo

I love logos that play with Chinese characters, and so I really like Fox Intercultural Consulting‘s logo. Here it is (with breakdown):

Fox Consulting Services Logo

I never noticed that looks so much like the word “Fox”! Nice discovery. (Those of you that like to nitpick will notice some discrepancies, though.)

But then, isn’t it kind of weird to use a character that means “salty” for one’s company logo? It turns out that the character has quite a history, and can mean a lot more than just “salty.”

From Wenlin:

> The character , from 戌 (xū) ‘destroy’ and 口 (kǒu) ‘mouth’, originally meant ‘bite’.

>> “戌 to hurt 口 with the mouth” –Karlgren.

> Then 咸 was borrowed for a word meaning ‘all, entirely’ (now rare), which happened to be pronounced the same. 咸 xián is also the name of the hexagram ䷞, variously translated as ‘Influence’ (Legge), ‘Wooing’ (Wilhelm), and ‘Cutting’ (Kerson Huang).

> The full form for xián ‘salty’ is 鹹, composed of 鹵 (lǔ) ‘salt’ and 咸 xián phonetic. 鹹 is simplified to 咸 by dropping 鹵, so now 咸 most commonly occurs as the simple form for xián ‘salty’.

More on hexagram ䷞ from Wikipedia:

> Hexagram 31 is named 咸 (xián), “Conjoining”. Other variations include “influence (wooing)” and “feelings”. Its inner trigram is ☶ (艮 gèn) bound = (山) mountain, and its outer trigram is ☱ (兌 duì) open = (澤) swamp.

So not only does represent one of the hexagrams from the I Ching, but its meaning is actually pretty relevant to Fox Intercultural Consulting’s business. Not too shabby!

With this post I’ve started using the tag “characterplay,” and also tagged previous relevant entries. Characterplay is a lot like wordplay, except that characterplay is entirely visual, whereas wordplay often relies on homophones which, when spelled out, are often quite distinct.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. That is very cool, though I’m going to admit that the first thing that came to mind when I saw the logo was “mmmm… salty….”

  2. I think it would be very hard to find a better example of ‘characterplay’ than the logo for CLP, formerly China Light & Power. 中 obviously has tremendous resonance in Hong Kong, as well as being the start of the company name. An utility company also has a lot of infrastructure that makes this a very familiar sight to Hong Kong people (at least off the island).

    See at

  3. 杀手兔子 Says: November 4, 2010 at 12:30 am

    There’s another use to saltiness, in Cantonese: cf. 咸相 =)
    Interesting when related to the Wenlin explanations!

  4. The logo of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong is another example:

  5. Just to clarify, my logo is in fact the word “Fox” meant to look like a Chinese character. Loved the history of the salty character though.

  6. Not Chinese, but reminds me of the advertisements for Miss Saigon.

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