Most people know when a logo design is successful, whether or not they have a background in graphic design. But what is it about logo designs that make them successful? And on the flip side, what causes so many poorly designed logos to fail? I will tackle this exact subject in a series of posts that will delve into the design principles used to create effective logos.
First up let’s take a look at the Gestalt Principle (or law), also known as the “Law of Simplicity.” The Gestalt Principle is a theory that says our minds self-organize information in a manner that is orderly, regular, symmetric, and simple. This means that when we see a cluster of lines and shapes our minds attempt to organize them into a single, cohesive form, rather than a collection of individual parts. It should go without saying that the Gestalt Principles are extremely helpful when trying to understand how a logo will be perceived by an audience.
So let’s jump right in and take a look at the law of closure. Just to be clear the law of closure will not help you bury the hatchet with your “ex.” (That kind of closure is a lot tougher to figure out).
The kind of closure we are talking about occurs when a series of visual elements suggest a connection between one another, when, in fact, they never actually touch.
A great example of this is the World Wide Fund For Nature designed by Sir Peter Scott in 1961. The image of the panda is not complete because the areas of white on the panda are not defined by a stroke or shape. However, our minds still recognize the shape of the panda and complete (or close) the two areas of white in order to make sense of the panda’s head and body.
Using the law of closure makes any logo more interesting. Paul Rand’s original design for the IBM logo in 1956 used solid letterforms based on the typeface City. It was only later, in 1960, that he used eight solid lines, separated by empty space, to add interest to the logo design. Both versions represent the same three letters, but using the law of closure makes the mark all that more interesting and causes the name to stand out amongst it’s competition.
Other examples of closure in classic logo designs can be seen in the Playboy rabbit logo created by Arthur Paul in 1953 and the NBC Peacock logo designed by Chermayeff & Geismar in 1986. In both instances shapes are placed near one another, but, as you can see, none of the shapes actually touch. This causes us to think a bow-tie or a peacock is present.
Using closure in your logo designs is a great way to add interest and help your client stand out. When used correctly it only subtly hints at what it is trying to represent, but is always easily identifiable upon closer examination. So the next time you are sketching out logo ideas for a client see if you can work in a few solutions that use closure. It may be the difference that makes or breaks the logo.