Design & UX
By Jennifer Farley

The Power And Simplicity Of The Silhouette In Logo Design

By Jennifer Farley

We’ve looked previously at some popular trends and styles in logo design. These included using rainbow colors and cubism. Today we’re looking at another popular technique in logo design, which is the use of silhouettes. A silhouette shows the shape of the subject without any detail. For this reason, silhouettes are particularly useful and work well as symbols in logo design.

A style can define the visual and emotional mood of an organization and it is achieved through the use of images, typeface and color. To find the style required for a logo, the designer needs to research who the target audience is. This will be a major factor in choosing the type of symbol and/or typeface you’ll use in a logo.

The main points to remember when designing a logo are:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it aesthetically pleasing
  • Represent an idea or concept with a symbol or suitable typography

If we keep these principles in mind, it’s easy to see why many logo designers will use a silhouette for their identity work. Below you can see the logo for the National Basketball Association of America. The reversed out outline of the basketball player with ball is easily identified.


The American Major League Baseball logo follows a very similar style.


A silhouette is easy to create using Illustrator or Photoshop. You could do it by tracing around an existing photograph or scan in a drawing and trace around, then fill with black. It’s important to use a delicate hand when creating your outline and to choose a suitable and easily recognizable object to trace. If you can’t tell what the object is when it’s filled with a flat color then you need to simplify.


So now for your viewing pleasure and design inspiration, let’s take a look at some examples where logo designers have applied the silhouette style. I’ve taken these logos from Logopond, Logo Faves, Logo Moose and Logo Gala – all useful sources of inspiration.


Longshot Motion Pictures




Dance Point Dance School

Yoga Australia (This logo featured in a previous post on white or negative space in Logo Design).

Higher Motions


Birdy Blacksmiths


Stomping Girl


Art Rebuy


The Find Music


Child Abuse Network (CAN) Film Festival

What do you think of this style of logo design? Is it something you’ve applied in your own work. What other examples have you seen that you really like?

  • Got one for you here (Check the wing) …
    Can best be seen on the contact page though, why my link is to there (old site of mine, now I use the one associated with designlabcph)

  • Trivia question for $1000: who is depicted in the NBA logo? It is a real (former) player. :)

    • That would be Jerry West :D

    • Neil

      It is a real former player, and his name is Jerry West. You can email me so I can give you details on were to send my money Mr. Tuck! :-)


  • wow. I’m very impressed. I know that most people who write that are just looking for link backs. so I’m not even going to post my website here, but SERIOUSLY, I love this post. thanks.

  • it’s amazing what computer work plus art can create. nice selection.

  • you guys are simply amazing when it comes to understanding the aesthetics of logo designs thank you i wish i could also get some form of inspiration from team
    of experts

  • Another plus: silhouettes translate well to a variety print mediums and can keep costs low. Full color graphics or gradient-heavy logos may look ok on the web, but trying to get them on a business card or a t-shirt can be difficult and expensive.

  • Jennifer. Great thoughts here and examples of the power of silihouette. I’m using your insights to recommend this design motif to a CIO (Chief Information Officer)  academic institution. The current logo/banner includes a white male posed with cross arms, and looking a bit stern. I’m concerned that image, besides excluding a female, appears distressed. 

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