The MasterCard logo employs the Gestalt principles of proximity, similarity, and figure/ground relationships.
The two circles that make up the background of the logo are in such close proximity to each other that they overlap. The overlapping circles form one larger shape, mimicking the combination of the words “master” and “card” to form the compound “MasterCard.” The proximity of the shapes in the logo indicate a fusing together of two separate entities.
The circles are identical in size and shape, they only differ in color. The similarity of these circles creates a visually balanced logo. As the eye is not distracted by an imbalance, the text becomes the focal point.
The MasterCard logo has multiple levels of figure/ground relationships. The text has a drop shadow behind it, which gives the logo a sense of depth and dimension. It also establishes the text as foreground, and the overlapping circles as the background. The overlapping circles themselves are perceived as flat, but not necessarily as negative space. The overlapping section of the two circles creates another illusion of depth; the circles seem to mesh together, with the center section becoming an area of yellow and red horizontal stripes. It is as if the two circles meshed together, one could not simply slide over the top of the other. This gives the circles texture and depth, adding another layer of visual interest to the logo. The white space that surrounds the logo is another background, and the only true negative space.