Negative space – sometimes known as white space or empty space – is the term used in marketing to describe the space surrounding a subject within a design. More often than not, this space is empty, devoid of detail so as to ensure the eye’s focus remains on the core subject. Ask any designer, and they will tell you never to be afraid of white space and to simply let it do its job.
Sometimes however, designers like to fill the space. Sometimes, it’s simply because they are uncomfortable with the ‘less is more’ approach and, just like a conversation that has gone quiet, they feel the need to fill the void.
But, at the other end of the scale, some designers are strategically creative and utilise the negative space to form compelling visuals that have dual or hidden meaning themselves. When designed well, the negative space can add much more value to the image without the need to add extra clutter.
One area of design where designers strategically use negative space is in the creation of brand logos. This is not the case for all brand logos of course, but it is always good to see well-executed examples. Especially where the shape of the negative space is directly associated with the company & or its solutions, services or values. Moreover, when the shape is ‘hidden’ well within the logo it can create additional delight upon its ‘discovery, serving to establish increased perceived value to a company’s brand; clever, strategic, relevant, considered, etc. And, most definitely, memorable.
One of the best-known example around is the FedEx logo, in which the negative space between the last two letters depicts the shape of a forward moving arrow.