In this article, we will explain the basics of Gestalt laws in reference to marketing, branding, and its extensive utilization in design.
What is the Gestalt Philosophy?
Gestalt school of thought observes the human mind as a whole. When trying to make sense of the world around us, Gestalt psychology says that we do not simply focus on every small detail. Instead, our minds tend to perceive objects as a whole system.
So far we have understood that Gestalt believes in the end product's perception/impact on the human mind.
But, how can it help in marketing and designing?
Well, we have a list of common life examples derived from the Gestalt principle which can impact marketing and designing.
Let us study them and see their real-life application in marketing.
Background: Gestalt's Law of Perception Organization:
In 1923 Gestalt’s principles, or Laws of Perception, were formalized by Wertheimer, and further explained by three fellow psychologists Köhler, Koffka, and Metzger.
The principles are based on the human brain's natural tendency of finding order when there is a disorder - a process that happens in your brain, not in the sensory organs such as the eye. According to Wertheimer, the mind “makes sense” of stimulus captured by the eyes following a predictable set of principles.
The brain applies these principles in a way that enables individuals to perceive form as a single entity rather than simply collections of nonconnected images.
Let's check each principle in detail and with examples:
1. Law of Proximity:
According to this law, things that are kept together are perceived to be one.
The law of proximity allows us to use whitespace to build perceived relationships between different elements.
Elements that are close to each other are perceived to be related when compared with elements that are separate from each other.
We have here two logos from famous brands which have utilized this principle in their design.
The logo of Unilever is especially very interesting as it is made of 25 elements that promote sustainable living. Check here on Unilever's website for more.
2. Law of Similarity:
This law suggests that we tend to group shapes, objects, or design elements that share some kind of similarities.
Similarities can be in terms of color, shape, orientation, texture, or size.
We can use similarity in UX to pivot user attention as per our needs. Check more on UX on this link.
Sun Microsystem's logo intuitively uses "U" to create "S", "U" and "N". If you look from sideways, it spells SUN just using "U"s. Isn't it fascinating?
3. Law of Continuance or Continuity:
The law of continuity holds that points that are connected by straight or curved lines (a trajectory) are seen in a way that follows the most visually comfortable path.
In other words, elements in a line or curve seem more related to one another than those positioned randomly.
In the below image, we tend to perceive things in continuation.
Here is an example of Logos that uses the principle of continuation.
4. Law of Closure:
This law suggests that the human brain tends to subconsciously close the gaps of an image. It completes the image using all the previous memories.
If in any image, information is missing, the human brain automatically "Fills" the missing part with familiar shapes, colors, or patterns. Our brains simply like things to be complete.
This principle helps the logo to be minimal in nature & yet communicate the entire idea.
Can you see a white triangle in the below image?
If you can, then it's because your brain is connecting the invisible dots. There is no triangle yet you are seeing one.
Here are some famous logos using the principle of closure to achieve minimalistic effects.
5. Law of Figure & Ground (AKA the law of Pragnanz or Simplicity):
This law states that your brain tends to simplify a complicated scenario. It describes how we perceive a visual by switching it between foreground & background to and fro.
By using the foreground & background, a designer can create a very memorable image.
Here in the below image, you can either see a tree or a face-off between a gorilla and a lioness (might be a tiger).
Here in the below image, you see a beautiful artwork by Coca-Cola which sparks joy.
Apart from the above major principle, there are sub-principles such as the principle of unity and the principle of balance.
Author: Gunjan Solanki
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