What is negative space? In everyday terms, it is a design term for creating the illusion of an image without actually drawing it. Negative space can be used in a clever way to create interesting and amusing effects. The following ten logos, including some that you’ve seen and a few that you may not have, use negative space for a very positive effect.
1. FedEx Logo Design
Many people see this bright, blocky logo every day and never see the subtle image of an arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’. This is not just appropriate, but clever. The arrow is approximately the same thickness and scale as the rest of the logo, making it a coherent part of the logo. The white is particularly noticeable against the background of the bright colors in the rest of the logo.
2. A.G. Low Construction Logo Design
In this case, the name of the company is written in thin, square letters that give a feeling of honesty and straightforwardness. However, the letters hold an even greater purpose; they are designed to look like the floor plan of the house, which happens to be the company’s specialty. This construction logo is also in the shape of a square, giving a balanced and coherent image to the viewer.
3. Girl Scouts of America Logo Design
This logo used the general bubbly shape generally associated with the Girl Scouts, but the faces of several young women are placed in the center. The message that young women are the center of the organization is shown in a visual sense. In this case, the negative space creates two young women. The organization name is written below, in a newsy font with slightly dramatic serifs. This logo is feminine without using traditional images associated with femininity.
4. American Institute of Architects Logo Design
Keys are commonly associated with buildings, which are what architects are perhaps best known for. However, the second half of the image is the ‘key’ to the success of this logo. The negative space creates a city skyline with tall skyscrapers. This is another appropriate image for the field of architecture. This logo is cool because it ties two completely different images associated with the profession into a single, coherent, and attractive image.
5. Yoga Australia Logo Design
Here we see a silhouette of an attractive young woman in the midst of a familiar and popular yoga pose. The logo seems complete with the company name below in friendly lower case letters that are in a newspaper-like font for a hint of legitimacy. However, the negative space in the center of the woman’s leg creates the outline of Australia, tying the two words of the business name together in an unforgettable way. At the same time, the logo is well balanced and attractive enough to stand alone without the amusing image.
6. NBC Logo Design
This television super-company has used the peacock as a symbol for a long time, but this latest media logo is perhaps their most attractive. A stylized peacock is shown. However, instead of drawing the peacock’s body, it is implied by the space between the two halves of the out-spread tail. The name is written below in extremely plain letters that neither add to nor detract from the simplicity of the peacock image. Many people see this logo everyday in the corner of their television screen and never think about it, which makes it all the more effective on that powerful subconscious level.
7. Guild of Food Writers Logo Design
As with the American Institute of Architects, the Guild of Food Writers food and drink logo uses negative space to cleverly weave two different images related to the industry into one coherent and attractive design. The image of a pen nib is the most noticeable image, and one commonly associated with writers. However, the center of the nib appears to be a spoon, which of course is associated with food. Together, it is easy to look at this image and make an accurate guess as to the nature of this organization. No words are needed, and no words are used.
8. Hartford Whalers Logo Design
This logo features two images in one. First, and most obviously, there is an image of a whale tail above what appears to be a stylized ocean wave. The tie to whalers is obvious here. Second, the wave forms a W, while the space between the tail and the W clearly forms an H. Together, these make up the organization’s initials in a clever and amusing way. The entire image takes roughly a shield shape, which is usually associated with tradition. This is an excellent and representative shape for an industry with such a long history.
9. Microsoft Mouse Awards Logo Design
Forget the Emmy and the Oscar; the Mouse is the only award worth receiving. The logo makes it all the more attractive, with a gray and pink color palette that is playful and similar to the actual color of live mice. If you look carefully, the negative space at the bottom of the award winning logo design is in the shape of a computer mouse. The O in the logo along with the trademark symbol give this mouse the mammalian features of an ear and an eye. The tie between the computer mouse and an actual one is cute and certain to attract interest.
10. USA Network Logo Design
This is another television station with a negative space logo that people see every day without paying a lot of attention. In rounded bubbly lettering with all lower case letters, this is certainly a friendly image for consumers to see on the television every day. While people commonly see the letters USA, the logo actual features merely the letters U and A, with the S formed by the negative space between the two letters.
These are ten notable examples of the use of negative space in logo design, but they are not the only ones. If you look around you, there are almost infinite examples of this fun practice. If you hire a professional logo designer, you too might end up with a logo that uses this or other techniques to create a communicative and attractive whole.
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Mash is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped 100s of companies differentiate themselves from the competition through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity design. Mash is also the host of the wildly popular The Brand Builder Show.
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