Gestalt Theory for Logo Designers – How It All Comes Together In Brand Marks

By Raquel Addams , Apr 10 2019
Logo Designers

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Graphic designers often have an innate sense of design. However, it is when some concrete principles refine that innate sense and bring the unconsciousness into consciousness, great design is born. Great logos are very deliberate, comprising of willful design decisions –nothing is accidental, everything is planned and thoughtful. If you are a new or intermediate designer, knowing some concrete design theory can help you in making informed design decisions. Today, we will look into a very interesting theory of design that can help you out in making unique and successful logos.

How The Gestalt Theory Can Help

The word Gestalt has become something of a buzz-word in the design world –many have already heard about it, but not all are familiar with its usage. The background of the Gestalt theory goes back to the early 20th century when some psychologists analyzed and presented a theory about how human beings visually perceive objects. The conclusion was that a group of objects is greater than its sum –or that it is perceived as more than its individual elements; it is seen as something different than the parts that make it up. This has been a ground-breaking concept which has lent much support to graphic design. In design, the gestalt theory makes us see that the design will be perceived in an ‘over-all’ manner or as a group, and the gestalt principles help us achieve our desired outlook in logos.

Let’s see how this theory comes together in logo design, and how it can help you create brand marks that leave an impression on the viewer.

Using Gestalt Principles In Brand Marks

Great businesses do not only focus on creating a logo, but they also focus on creating brand marks. Brand marks are all the visual elements that help identify a brand –these include a logo, pictures, colors, and the overall design look. A successful logo can serve as a brand mark, where it can be simplified or amped up to convert into a mascot, picture, initial or even any other design element.

Here is how the Gestalt Principles can help you create cohesive brand marks and logos:

1. Proximity

Image Source: dribbble/Nikita Lebedev

When individual elements are very close to each other, the human brain perceives them as a whole, in a different shape. For example, in the above logo, the car shape is made up of many different individual elements, all of which represent the versatility of the food offered by the food mobile –however, because they are grouped together so closely, our brain perceives them as a holistic shape –in the shape of a car.

Proximity is a great principle which can be explored by logo designers to create a winning brand mark. This is because it has room to introduce unique, individual elements which may even be used independently by the brand. For example, if the food mobile is very famous for its fish, the fish icon may become an identity symbol of its own, and can be used on the social media and webpage. Here is another example of proximity.

Unilever Logo
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2. Closure

Have you seen those cool logos that make use of negative space? Or the logos which don’t really have closed shapes, but our brain instantly completes the shape for us? This is the law of closure working here, which is one of the gestalt principles. This principle states that the human brain has a tendency to seek out patterns, and if the right amount of information is presented, the brain will use it to complete the pattern.

Probably one of the most famous logos that illustrate this principle is the WWF logo. As a logo designer, if you want to experiment with closure, just dabble with some negative space and see what you can make out of it. You will find you can come up with some very creative pieces this way, which allow you to create unique brand marks!

WWF Logo
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3. Similarity

The law of similarity from the gestalt principles states that if the individual elements share some kind of similar traits, the human brain will organize them in a group and perceive them as a whole. This similarity can be explored in terms of size, color, texture or shapes.

The benefit of this principle is that it can help you link different parts of your logo together.

For example, the NBC logo uses the same petal shape, in different colors, to create the wings of the peacock. Because each shape is the same, it is perceived as a unified whole, even with the color difference. This can be a really creative technique in logo design –not only can it help you bind visual logo elements, but also help you bind a tagline or a company’s name to a pictorial mark.

NBC Logo
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By the way, did you notice, the NBC logo also makes use of closure? You can see the incomplete peacock form in the logo because of the proximity and pattern of the elements!

4. Figure/Ground

The figure-ground relationship explores the positive space and negative space relationship in design. Logo designers can use negative and positive space to create a visual hierarchy, to experiment with the principle of closure, to play with sizes and to also create an emphasis on things!

This is an example of a figure-ground relationship in design –it can look really interesting:

Roesch Logo
Image Source: ZillionDesigns/SeranggaOtak

It can even help you create visual puns, where you can see two different kinds of images in a logo, for example in this logo:

Outland Logo
Image Source: ZillionDesigns/Bloomingbud

5. Continuity

The law of continuity states that elements that are similarly aligned will be perceived as a whole –your eye will begin to follow them in that direction unless something breaks the continuity. Again, this can help you bind different aspects of your logo together. For example, you may be able to bind two different colors or two different ideas with the help of a continuous element. Here is an example of a famous logo that uses the overlapping technique to create a link between its halves.

MasterCard Logo
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The great thing about this principle is that it can also help you draw your viewer’s attention. You can actually lead them down the visual path of your choice, and leave them with the message you intend for them. This can be very powerful if harnessed correctly.

6. Order

The order may be brought about by symmetry, or even through an organized asymmetrical manner. In a nutshell, the goal is to create a sense of order so your viewers are not lost in creating a relationship. In logo design and brand marks, this works best by way of symmetry. You can create some great icons, logos, app buttons and more with the help of symmetry.

Here is an example of a logo that uses this principle:

Phaseone Logo
Image Source: Zilliondesigns/HambaAllah

Focusing on gestalt principles can help you in your design –when you are hard pressed for inspiration, see which one of these principles can you explore, and it will lead you down a very creative path!

About The Author

Raquel Addams is a professional blogger and graphic design enthusiast who employs a unique combination of journalism, communication design and marketing strategy to help her clients to position and launch their enterprise or start-ups.

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