July 7, 2011 Neville Godwin

Logo Design Case Study: Using Negative Space To Add Meaning

The new logo for Andrew Plumb - Elite Ski & Fitness

The new logo for Andrew Plumb - Elite Ski & Fitness

Above is the new logo we’ve designed for Andrew Plumb – Elite Ski and Fitness.

I’ve chosen this particular project to put on our blog because we used negative space (or white space as it’s also known) in the final solution and so a case study may help others understand it’s strengths and limitations.

What is Negative Space?

Negative Space is also called white space. These are spaces without content within the logo and although they are called white space, it doesn’t have to be white. It can be any color, it just doesn’t have any content.

An outline the project’s brief.

  • The logo is for a start-up business with two disparate products. One training top level skiers and instructors, by it’s nature mostly aboard and the second product personal fitness training.
  • The training would be aimed at monied women in the Surrey area that feel uncomfortable with gyms or have used gyms and have found that they’re not getting the results they’re looking for.
  • The logo should as a result appeal to upscale female customers but still retain a masculine slant (as all the trainers are men).
  • The logo had to reflect both aspects of the business.
  • The logo should be simple
Well with that brief in hand, how do you reflect all that in a logo that has to be small enough to fit on a business card?
We came up with many routes that worked great for skiing but not fitness and visa versa. The logos routes were a tad complex, trying to shoehorn in too much, in an attempt to get both products equal standing.

It was becoming a real issue as the golden rule with any logo is that it should work printed in one colour quite small.

So after a few rounds of ideas and discussion we came up with the following. The image below shows we created a bold serif initials logotype but used negative space to subtly describe both side of the business. The image below highlights the negative space. We removed the ‘crossbar on the capital A to create a mountain and used the ‘counter’ in the capital P to suggest some weighing scales.

Colour was used to create a sense of quality and nod the name Plum(b). The descriptor was set in an face to show strength with elegance and spaced to increase legibility at smaller sizes.
The client loved the result and actually didn’t see the hidden symbols. When these were explained his response was “what a wonderful surprise, hopefully they’ll connect that attention to detail to my business”.
Well that in a nutshell is the reasoning for doing it but it also highlights a shortfall… some people, maybe a lot of people just won’t see it. As a result the logo shouldn’t rely on it for it’s existence, it has to work on surface level as well.
Andrew Plumb Logo showing the negative space

Andrew Plumb Logo showing the negative space

A good example of this is one of the most talked about logos within the design community that uses negative space, the FedEx logo.

The use of white space is so subtle I guarantee most people who aren’t as obsessed with logos as we are (for the sake of this blog we’ll call them normal folk) haven’t seen the arrow within the logo. This subtle use adds meaning when seen (taking something from point A to B) but the logo works completely without it. It’s a sort of little reward to those who choose to look closer.

The Fed Ex Logo. Great use of negative space

The Fed Ex Logo. Great use of negative space

Anyway I hope you found this blog informative.

All constructive comments are welcome.

Obviously if you know of any business that needs to update their logo please get them to consider us for the project and get in touch!

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