Negative space is one of those things like dark matter – it is out there, but too many people don’t know it is there, or what to make of it. But we all see it. One of the best, and most visible, examples is the FedEx logo. The negative space between the E and X form an arrow, pointing to the right, signifying progress.
Why use negative space? The answer is related to subliminal marketing – your brain sees the marker, the message, and files that away. Studies on subliminal effectiveness vary from ‘not at all’ to ‘total’. Pick your study. But the connection is there – and if there is a need to force a decision, that little bit of nudge can push the customer over the edge.
How? It creates what I describe as a ‘positive connection’. By relating the negative space to a positive impression, the brain is trained to like a certain thing. Since we, in the west, read left to right, moving to the right is seen as progress. So, by adding the impression of progress to the logo, FedEx created a positive connection between themselves and progress and moving forward.
Negative space is not a required design component for every project, but an awareness of it is – you need to be aware of what the space around your design is doing, to avoid sending the wrong message.
Every small business engages in marketing, it seems like many don’t know it.
Marketing is easy, and if you have your own company, you are doing it 24/7, whether you know it or not. For anyone with their name on their vehicle, you are marketing when you cut that slow driver off in rush hour traffic. You are marketing when you get bounced from a bar in your company t-shirt. You market when you litter, are rude, don’t hold the door, and every time you do anything that is not acceptable in polite society. This is the trick – you have to be aware of your actions, especially when you are, in any way, representing your company.
And you are always representing your company! Just because you don’t have a sign on the vehicle, or a logo on a shirt, you are your company in every interaction you have, both on and off line. Your whole public persona is your brand, and you market that brand daily. It is important that you, and I, think about that when we see a post that supports the other side of a passionate belief – from religion to politics to baseball. Our responses will be tied to us as long as there is an internet to find these things. As we are finding out on a daily basis.
I decided to update this post in the wake of the almost-daily toppling of a cultural icon for deeds in the past. I don’t see as many over comments online – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. In every encounter, we have the choice to be good or to be bad – in this case good is someone who is gracious, thoughtful…the kind of person I am sure we all want to be. Bad, however, is the troll, the person who attacks, belittles, and insults. When we, as small business owners, take that route, we become the problem, and out businesses can suffer for it.
If I am given the choice between doing business with someone who is a thoughtful poster on their social platforms (or doesn’t cut me off in traffic, or commit other social interaction sins), or their opposite number, who do you think gets the business? Obviously, the person who isn’t a jerk. That is just human nature, and something we all need to expect our potential customers will do.
So always remember, you are your company, and well be the only face some people ever see. Make sure you are a good ambassador.
updated december 15, 2018