The Best Brands are Built on Fundamentally Good Logos

When the earliest hunters would see the paw print of a wolf, they were looking at an image that represented an idea that we can all identify with even to this day–that of a dangerous and predatory animal. It was more than just a few shapes together in the snow. It was more than just “tracks”. It was visual communication of an idea and an emotion and a message.

There are a number of design principles which come into play when we see a logo mark, the identifying visual symbol of any company. The collection of these principles is not necessarily a what, but a how. Gestalt Principles of Form Perception are derived from Gestalt Psychology, the founding discipline in how we see the world and why certain aspects of it connect with us mentally and emotionally.

There are a handful of these principles that come into play either together or singularly in a good logo. Chief among these is the principle called figure/ground. If we consider some of the most widely recognized logos in the world and consider what they are associated with, we can see exactly how this principle comes into play.

Firstly, figure/ground is our tendency to perceive whole figures as separate from their background. When we look at the necessary factors of visual communication in a logo, we must consider what acts as the foreground or subject visual (the figure) and the equally important background or grounding factor that often frames or gives context to the figure. In logo design this is the negative or white space. This principle is most essential in all of visual communication because it clarifies shapes and forms for us. In logo design, this principle of Gestalt translates clearly and easily in black and white.

The bite in the apple logo was intended “for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry.” - Rob Janoff

Let’s consider the example of one of the most renowned logo marks in the world: Apple. Rob Janoff, the designer of the iconic logo mark, did not necessarily intend for any meaning to come from what the logo was. It was just designed as a simple apple, because the company name was such. The bite in the apple logo was intended “for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry.” One of the “hidden” meanings that people have attributed it to is the “bite” from the tree of knowledge that Adam and Eve took in the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden. It’s identifying meaning is still based around its overall form and symbolism: simplicity, sophistication, an element of perfection in form but still human at the same time.

If we look back at the wolf prints and at the earliest languages we communicated in, we see the use of ideograms (symbols representing ideas) and pictographs (images representing literal subjects). Apple, CBS, or even more abstract marks like Nike and Pepsi are all doing the same thing we’ve done since the beginning– using forms to communicate the concepts of television viewers, or forward-upward “active” motion, or a liquid.

A great logo communicates so much more than the static image is depicts. On top of this, it also evolves into a symbol that can represent an experience and even a lifestyle that a company can embody.

As visual communication designers, advertisers and marketers, we understand the basic psychological elements that come into play in the smallest element to the largest element of your logo, identity and brand. We are experienced and driven by our passion to create the quintessential logo for your company and make use of Gestalt Principles to reach your audience on the deepest level.