Gestalt Logo Examples in Graphic Design

Gestalt is one of the most important concepts for understanding logo theory.

In this post, I will show you tons of gestalt logo examples that will illustrate the following main concepts of logo design theory:

  1. Closure
  2. Figure / Ground
  3. Continuation
  4. Unity
  5. Balance

I will cover in detail:

  • The role of gestalt in logo design
  • 5 fundamental concepts of logo design theory with useful images
  • Tons of Gestalt logo examples from real life

Let’s dive right in.

Gestalt Principles in Logo Design

In psychology, the term gestalt (which in German means something like “unified whole”) describes humans’ capacity for “cumulative perception”. 

Basically, it refers to our tendency to “fill in the gaps” in everything we see.  

You see:

As humans, we are unable to analyze every single piece of information that is presented to us. 

Instead, we tend to process our surroundings by using preconceptions, biases, and stereotypes that allow us to make decisions quickly. 

In other words:

This ability allows us to see “wholeness” in the things we perceive. 

In the 1920’s, the Bauhaus art school introduced the concept to graphic design to explain visual perception. According to this school, “a design’s unity is more than the simple addition of its parts.”

When we perceive a logo, we “fill in the gaps” not only in terms of what we literally see but also in terms of what those elements represent.  

By understanding the role of gestalt in perception, with are able to create logos that interact with people’s expectations, knowledge, and attitudes.

Let’s now look at the 5 main concepts behind gestalt theory.

Gestalt Logo Examples (Closure, Figure/Ground, Continuation, Unity, and Balance)

1. Closure 

The Closure principle is closely related to gestalt psychology in design

The concept of closure in logo design theory is closely related to gestalt.  

A logo is not an illustration or a painting. It’s a visual summary of a brand’s identity or essence.  

This means that logos have to communicate iconically.

In other words:

A logo has to be able to communicate with minimal elements.

Therefore, a logo has to accomplish a lot with very few resources. 

Through closure, a logo is able to communicate by suggesting ideas or concepts with only a few elements (such as an icon, color, shapes, or typography). 

Through the Gestalt principle of closure we are able to "fill in the blanks" of missing information in order to create wholeness.
Through the Gestalt principle of closure we are able to “fill in the blanks” of missing information in order to create wholeness.

In sum: 

Closure allows the viewer to complete unfinished forms or ideas.

As Alex White states in his excellent book, closure “encourages active participation in the creation of the message.” 

2. Figure/Ground 

The figure-ground principle allows us to perceive the relationship between positive and negative space.

Another way in which a viewer applies wholeness or totality relates to the concept of figure / ground.  

Figure/Ground describes our capacity to perceive the relationship between form (shape) and its surrounding space.  

In other words:

Our sense of wholeness or unity depends on how we perceive the relationship between an object and the space in which it is contained. 

By strategically playing with this relationship, a designer can create interest, memorability, or meaning in a logo.  

What creates the letter “e”, is it the white space or is it its positive enclosure (black space)? Figure/Ground relates to our capacity to switch from background to foreground to create wholeness.

3. Continuation

In our desire for wholeness, we’re also able to follow the logical direction of visual forms, even if they’re not on a page or design.

This is called continuation

Through continuation, we are able to follow the logical direction of visual forms
Through continuation, we are able to follow the logical direction of visual forms

Let’s look at some more examples:

The Subway logo is an example of the Gestalt principle of continuation. Notice how we tend to follow the direction of the end arrows outside of the composition.

Subway's logo is an example of the Gestalt principle of continuation
Subway’s logo is an example of the Gestalt principle of continuation.

Another example:

If you encounter a sign that says “Exit” with an arrow pointing to the right, Where do you look?

Your perception logically makes you “follow” whatever goes beyond that arrow.  

The "Exit"sign exemplifies the principle of continuation in logo design.
The “Exit”sign exemplifies the principle of continuation in logo design.

That is: 

Through continuation, we are able to view the “wholeness” of a design even if not all of its elements are depicted right there on the page.  

In this example, the “direction” of the lines in the pencil and its tip allow us to keep looking in that direction, even beyond the boundaries of the design. This is called continuation.

4. Unity

Exmaples of the unity principle in logo psychology theory

We also search for wholeness by applying the principle of unity.  

In graphic design, unity refers to our capacity to group different things or find kinship between them, even if they are not the same size, color, or shape.

Unity manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Proximity:
    • We perceive objects or elements that are close to one another as more unified than those that are farther apart.
  • Repetition:
    • Objects that are repeated in a composition are perceived as more unified.
  • Similarity:
    • Objects or elements that are similar in color, shape, texture or form appear to be more unified than those that are not.
Through unity, we are able to group and organize visual elements, even if they are not the same.

5. Balance

Balance in logo theory can be symmetrical or assymetrical

Balance refers to the total symmetry of a composition.

That is:

When we look at a design, we evaluate its total appearance in terms of the harmony of all of its elements.

The question is:

How are the elements of the composition weighted in relation to one another?

Balance manifests itself in at least two ways:

  • Symmetrical Balance
    • All the elements of the composition are distributed equally.
    • Elements of the same category or form having the same rank or importance.
    • The focus of the composition is in its center.
  • Asymmetrical Balance
    • The elements of the composition are not necessarily distributed equally, but their placement on the page results in harmony (they make visual sense).
    • The focus of the composition is not necessarily its center.
Balance in logo design can be symmetrical or asymmetrical

Apply Logo Theory to Your Designs Right Now

15 Real Life Gestalt Logo Examples
15 Real Life Gestalt Logo Examples

Logo theory and principles are the foundation of a solid logo creation process. 

With a general understanding of how a logo works, you will be able to achieve effective results that are repeatable and consistent.  

Even more:

Understanding the main principles behind the logo process will guide you in creating logos that are distinctive, memorable, and timeless. 

Study these principles and see how they apply to the logos that we see everyday. 

Inkscape Vector Logo Tutorial

Powell Peralta Logo Vector Tutorial

Read More

Advanced Inkscape Logo Tutorial [Step-by-Step + PDF]

In this advanced Inkscape logo tutorial, I show you step-by-step how to create a complex logo using a grid construction process.

Specifically, we will recreate the Woolmark logo, by Italian designer Franco Grignani.

In this tutorial, you will learn about:

  • Logo grid construction process
  • Boolean operations
  • Geometric logo design

BONUS: Download this advanced Inkscape logo tutorial in PDF at the bottom of the page so you can work at your own pace.


Step 1

Overview:

  • Create layers
  • Set the grid
  • Create an equilateral triangle
  • Align triangle

a. Create the layers

First, create four layers using the Layers dialog (Layer > Layers).    Name the layers, from bottom to top, like so: Triangle, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3.  This will help us organize our work and deal with the complexity of the design as we move forward.

Create layers using Inkscape's layers dialog
Create layers using Inkscape’s layers dialog

b. Set the grid

Create a grid for the document by going to View > Page Grid.  Be sure to set the grid size (spacing) large enough so you can easily work with its scale.

Create a grid for the Inkscape document by going to View > Page Grid
Create a grid for the Inkscape document by going to View > Page Grid

c. Create a triangle

Now, create an equilateral triangle, using the Stars and Polygons tool , by setting its corners to “3. ” Move the triangle to the Triangle layer by selecting Layer > Move Selection to Layer Above or Below, depending the layer on which the triangle was created.

Create an equilateral triangle, using the Stars and Polygons tool in Inkscape
Create an equilateral triangle, using the Stars and Polygons tool in Inkscape

d. Align the triangle

Select the triangle, align its tip to a grid intersection and, pressing the SHIFT and CTRL keys *, enlarge (drag) the triangle so that its height is equal to an even number of squares (mine is 6 “grid squares” high).   You may enable the snapping tool for more accuracy.

*  The SHIFT key makes the object scale from its center of rotation, while the CTRL key makes it scale symmetrically.

Align the triangle tip to a grid intersection in Inkscape
Align the triangle tip to a grid intersection in Inkscape

Step 2

Overview:

  • Create a perfect circle
  • Duplicate and position circles

a. Create a circle

Locate the center of the triangle in terms of its height: In my case, it’s 6 “grid squares” high, so its center intersection lies on square 3.

Position the cursor slightly upward off center, as shown.  This will make our rendition more accurate in terms of the original logo.

Select the Circles tool.  

While pressing the SHIFT and CTRL keys, enlarge (drag) the circle so that it becomes a perfect circle.  Make sure the edges of the circles touch the edges of the triangle.

Convert the circle to a path by selecting Path > Object to Path.

Use Inkscape's Circles tool to create a perfect circle within your triangle and convert it to a path
Use Inkscape’s Circles tool to create a perfect circle, then convert to path

b. Duplicate and position circles

Duplicate the circle (CTRL + D keys or Edit > Duplicate).  Move the duplicate to the lower left side.  Press the CTRL key to drag the circle to the bottom, then press CTRL to drag to left, until it touches the left and bottom edges of the triangle.

Duplicate the lower left circle and drag to the right, using the CTRL key.

Duplicate your original circle (use CTRL + D) and align within your triangle
Duplicate your original circle (CTRL + D) and align as shown

Now you have three cicles within a triangle.


Step 3

Overview:

  • Duplicate upper left side circles
  • Interpolate circles
  • Move selection to layer above

a. Duplicate upper left side circles

We will now create the circles that will make up the black crescents of the design.

Select the lower left circle and, pressing the SHIFT key, also select the upper circle (the order of selection is important).

Select circle and interpolate them
Interpolate circles

b. Interpolate circles

Go to Extensions > Generate from Path > Interpolate.

Use the Inkscape extension Interpolate to duplicate circles accordingly
Use the Inkscape extension Interpolate to duplicate circles

In the dialog, select “Duplicate endpaths” and be sure to set interpolation steps to 8.  This is so because the extension will “fill” the space between the circles with duplicates of the same circles.  If you look at the Woolmark logo, each side is composed of 10 circles.

c. Move selection to layer above

The interpolated circles will be grouped, with a total of 10 objects.   Select the group, then move the selection to the layer named “Level 1.” Turn off the layer (in the Layers dialog, click on the little eye icon to close it).


Step 4

Step overview:

  • Repeat process on step 3 for right side 

a. Repeat interpolation for each side

Select the upper and lower circles by pressing the SHIFT key.

Repeat the interpolation process.

Move the selection to the layer named “Level 2” and turn off.

Interpolate circles for the right side
Now interpolate circles for the right side

Step 5

Step overview:

  • Repeat process on steps 3 and 4 for bottom side
  • Delete original circles 

a. Repeat interpolation process for bottom side of triangle

Select the lower right and left circles by pressing the SHIFT key.

Repeat the interpolation process.

Move the selection to the layer named “Level 3” and turn off.

Interpolate for the bottom side

b. Delete original (guide) circles

Delete the three original guide circles before continuing with the next step.


Step 6

Step overview:

  • Apply the Boolean operation “Difference”
  • Fill black and remove stroke to create crescents
  • Repeat to create all the crescent shapes

a. Apply the Boolean operation “Difference”

Start with layer “Level 1”.

Turn on the layer and ungroup the interpolated circles by selecting them and pressing the CTRL and U keys.  You now have 10 separate circle objects.

b. Fill and remove stroke to create crescents

Create the crescents from the circular grid.  

Select the outermost circle and the circle that follows.

Apply Path > Difference.  Apply black fill and remove stroke (Object > Fill and Stroke).

You now have your first crescent.

c. Repeat for creating the other crescents

Repeat with all crescents of that side.  You now should have something that looks like this:

d. Repeat crescent creation on remaining sides

Turn off the layer and repeat with the remaining two sides:


Step 7

Step overview:

  • Use the eraser tool to clean paths
    • Turn on all layers
    • Select crescents with protruding tips
    • Erase tips with the Eraser tool
    • Repeat for all sides

a. Turn on all layers

For the final step, turn on all layers.

b. Select crescents with protruding tips

Select the crescents whose tips protrude unto the opposite crescent set.

c. Erase tips with the Eraser tool

Select the Erase tool.  At the top of the page, in Mode, select “Cut out from object.”

Start “erasing” the protruding crescent tips by passing the tool just to the contour of the opposite crescent.  Be sure to remove all parts of the tip while the object is selected.

Use Inkscape's Eraser tool to remove unwanted portions of the path
Use Inkscape’s Eraser tool to remove unwanted portions of the path

e. Repeat

Repeat on all sides, according to the fold of the original Woolmark logo.

Turn off unnecessary layers.

DONE!

You now have recreated a version of the Woolmark logo and learned about circular grids, Boolean operations, and logo design in the process.

Our final version of the Woolmark logo using Inkscape
Our final vector version of the Woolmark logo using Inkscape!

Read More