Negative space logos are one of the hottest logo trends for 2019, so be ready to see them everywhere you look—and in the blank spaces between them.
Because that’s what negative space logos are all about: using the white spaces within and between letters and pictures to create new images. The most famous negative space logo is the FedEx logo, and if you don’t already know what we’re talking about, prepare to see something you’ll never be able to un-see:
See the → between the E and the X? Now it’ll be the first thing you see every time you look at the FedEx logo. And in 2019, brands in a huge variety of industries will be designing and using logos that use this same exact strategy to stick themselves in your mind and stay there.
Take a look at these awesome ways designers are using negative space logos to make brands stand out:
Use negative space to fit a lot of information into a small space
One characteristic you’ll notice about a lot of negative space logos is that their meanings are layered. There’s a lot of images within images, images within letters and letters within images. You’ll find hidden pictures, initials, names and even additional details about the brands they represent.
Think of the negative space in a logo as a secret compartment, except for instead of stowing extra details away, it puts them on display without making the logo look busy. And that’s really the crux of using a negative space logo to pack in a lot of details… trying to fit them all into your logo’s positive space will make your logo feel like it’s got too much going on and turn prospective clients off. Give every element in your logo room to breathe and shine in its own space by using negative space to compartmentalize the logo.
And remember, you don’t have to be super obvious with your negative space. A lot of these logos use negative space to sneak in important details that don’t fit into the “main” logo. You can be cheeky with these details, you can be profound with them… it’s totally up to you.
Minimalism + negative space = a match made in design heaven
Negative space plays nicely with another one of 2019’s logo trends: minimalism. By turning a logo’s negative space into usable space, the logo doesn’t need a whole lot of details or a large color palette. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them and make them work in a meaningful way, but that using your negative space adds a dimension that can make up for details and color if you choose to keep them to a minimum. There are lots of ways to communicate your brand’s personality, and a well-executed minimalist logo can say just as much as a big, bold maxed-out logo with lots of color and detail.
Push your minimalist logo further by making use of its negative space. If it’s an abstract logo, your viewers are already mentally turning your shapes and lines into a coherent image. They’re already looking at the logo’s negative space, so use this attention to your advantage by combining your negative and positive space into a clever logo.
Create faces in negative spaces
Pareidolia is the phenomenon of seeing faces in images that don’t actually have faces. Think of looking at a car head-on—you you see a face, perhaps a toothy grin if you’re picturing a Buick or glaring eyes and flared nostrils if you’re looking at a BMW? There’s some evidence to suggest that pareidolia has evolutionary roots, that we’re wired to pick up human faces so we can read them for information about who we’re making eye contact with.
Make direct eye contact with your prospective buyers by building a negative space face in your logo. This is a very common technique brands use to personify products and services that might otherwise feel cold and impersonal. Don’t shy away from this strategy just because it’s common—it’s common because it works. Negative space can add a clever spin to this technique. What kind of face you build—a cute face, a wizened one, an approachable face or an enthusiastic one—all depends on your brand and its target audience.
Highlight important details in negative space
Like we mentioned before, your logo’s negative space is a great place to fit in details that you can’t fit into the positive space without them looking weird. But there’s more to using your negative space as a secret compartment than finding a way to jam all your details into the logo: you can use it as a visual highlighter.
Highlight the details you want to make sure viewers see when they look at your logo. This is the opposite of sneaking little in-jokes into your logo via its negative space. This is putting the negative space in the spotlight by using it to showcase one or more of the key messages you want to communicate.
Just like you can be cheeky or profound with your negative space sneak-ins, you can be literal with the details you highlight, like using negative space to make the leaves on a tree or the scales on a fish very obvious, or you can be more figurative and use the negative space to highlight certain characteristics like how the Whole Foods logo uses negative space to turn one of its Os into an apple, symbolizing its commitment to real, natural foods.
Create contrast with a small color palette
If you’ve only got a few colors to work with, you need to find other ways to make your logo visually interesting. One of these ways is to use its negative space to build detailed images. With a limited color palette, contrast is your friend. And negative space forces contrast into your logo. Make contrast your bff by using it to create striking images that go deep despite their limited palettes.
Another angle to using negative space to create depth is that you can use it to build three-dimensional images. Quick, sketch a 3D cube on paper. It’s just lines that overlay and intersect, but your brain interprets it as a cube. Why? Because it knows which sides should be shaded. Use negative space to do the same thing with your limited-palette logo.
Even if your logo doesn’t have a limited palette, you’ll probably create a limited-color version to be printed on envelopes and other stationary that you wouldn’t use a full-color logo on. Get around the issue of losing part of your logo in translation from full-color to black and white by designing a high-contrast negative space logo from the get-go.
We’re positive a negative space logo will be awesome for your brand
There are lots of reasons to use a negative space logo, and one of them is true in every case: they look cool. When it feels like you’ve seen every logo design trend over and over again, a negative space logo forces you to look at it with a pair of fresh eyes and take a second glance to really notice everything that’s there. You might have seen a bunch of negative space logos before, but you’ll never see a negative space logo that doesn’t look completely fresh in its own way.