Among other elements, logo shapes set the tone for your business.
Gone are the days when shapes were added to logos purely for an aesthetic appeal. Research on visual communications shows that specific shapes hold associations in the human brain, with the ability to amplify an intended message to a target audience.
This means that adding a triangle into your logo design won’t just change how it looks — it’ll change how it’s understood and perceived by your audience.
But like many things in life, logo shapes are not black and white. When paired with colors, fonts, and imagery, they can take on other connotations and meanings.
Our guide below explores familiar shapes and the impact of logos on consumers.
An absence of edges or points makes circle logo design a popular choice. Circles are round and soft, which gives off a certain feel that is drastically different than most other shapes. They’re often associated with femininity, and they can also portray security, continuity, and protection.
Oval logos are also included in this category, along with multiple circles in combination with one another. Multiple circles are often representative of community, love, and support, as well as infinity and continuity. An iconic example of this would be the Olympic logo, with its overlapping rings.
The Glo logo below, created with our online logo maker, uses negative space in the pink circle to spell out the company name and evoking a mysterious, feminine feeling.
A good example of a circular logo is Nivea. The company released a new logo in 2013: a white wordmark in a dark blue circle reminiscent of the brand’s classic tins of body lotion. The logo is instantly recognizable on packaging and ads.
Rectangle and Square Logos
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.
Extensive use in corporate logos has allowed for a more recent neurological response, with rectangle and square logos meaning strength, efficiency, and professionalism.
These shapes are inherently “edgy” (double meaning intended). They make an impact and are often considered stronger and bolder than round logos. That said, they’re often overlooked by the human eye more than other shapes because they’re more common.
Ritter Sport is a classic example of a square logo. To echo the shape of the company’s chocolate bars, they use a square container in the logo, putting it into a nice, neat package.
Triangles are unique to the discussion of logo design shapes because their 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.
Triangle logos 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.’
Taking a look at the Adidas logo below, the slanted lines form an abstract triangle, that evokes motion and speed, which ties nicely into the brand and its product offerings.
Vertical and 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. They’re often formed to display a shape or guide the eye in a particular direction.
See the SoundCloud below above for a perfect example of that!
When lines and shapes are placed horizontally, 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.
The Stumblebum horizontal logo below evokes a more feminine feel than the SoundCloud logo, with its simple container and modern serif font.
Organic and Spiral Logo Shapes
Last, but definitely not least, is organic logo shapes. These designs surprise and capture attention with their unique shapes!
Often more whimsical and fluid, they can have a circular or rounded shape to them, while also feeling hand-drawn or free-form.
Due to their “organic” feel, companies in the health and wellness industry will often adopt these shapes into their logo and overall branding.
Conclusion: Logo Design Shapes
To put it simply, the meaning of shapes in logo design is important. They create associations in our brains that make us feel a particular way about what we’re looking at.
This carries through to logo designs. Each design (whether literally or through visual connections) contains shapes. When creating your design, take the overall logo shape into consideration, as well as logo colors and fonts.
As with all aspects of logo design, it’s essential to determine who your target market is and what message you want to convey to them.
Once you’ve decided on your key demographic, you’re well on your way to making informed logo design decisions that will help take your branding to the next level!