Long gone are the days when shapes were added to logos purely for an aesthetic appeal. With scientific research being done on visual communications, we now know that certain shapes hold certain associations in the human brain, with the ability to amplify an intended message to a target audience. Our guide below explores common shapes and orientations and what they may cognitively infer, to help you make educated logo design decisions.
Their continuity and lack of edges or points make circles a more gentle choice in logo design shapes. Often associated with femininity, they portray security and protection. Multiple circles in combination with one another are often representative of community, love, and support. The shape is sometimes used to indicate time, representing infinity and continuity.
Squares & Rectangles
Squares and rectangles translate to feelings of stability and balance in the human mind. As such, secondary psychological associations of reliability and stability often occur. Their extensive use in corporate logos have allowed for a more recent neurological response, also associating squares and rectangles with strength, efficiency, and professionalism. Designers beware – their nonabrasive appearance is often more overlooked by the human eye than other shapes, so the use of squares and rectangles as a fixture to attract attention may not be the best use.
Triangles are unique to the discussion of logo design shapes because psychological association is dependent on their orientation within an image. When sitting on their base, triangles represent tension and change, as their ability to go from unstable to stable (from being positioned on their base or on a point) is evident. The shape with the point facing downward signifies instability. Triangles are often viewed as a more aggressive, masculine shape associated with strength, conflict, and speed.
Other uses for triangles include representing direction and movement, or a substitute for the letters ‘A’ and ‘V’.
Vertical/ Horizontal Shape Orientation
The orientation of shapes within your logo also has a psychological association. Vertical lines and shapes are associated with masculinity and portray aggression, strength, courage and dominance. When lines and shapes are placed horizontally, however, they take on a more feminine feel, being associated with calmness and tranquility. Lots of vertical lines may also fool the eye into thinking a shape is more narrow that it is, while horizontal orientations make images appear wider.
Conclusion: Logo Design Shapes
As with all aspects of logo design, you must determine who your target market is and what message you want to convey to them. Once you’ve decided on your key demographic, you are well on your way to making informed logo design decisions that will help take your branding to the next level.