Your company logo plays a prominent factor in helping customers to both recognise and identify with your product or business. The word ‘logo’ comes from the Greek term ‘logos’, which basically means ‘word’. And in a very real way, your logo is a visual one-word description of your business offering.
Designers use shapes to represent and organise ideas, convey emotion, and create a sense of movement and depth. Understanding the psychology behind the meaning of shapes can help you to design the most effective logo possible.
Types of shapes
Geometric shapes refer to regular patterns, such as squares, triangles and circles. The regularity of geometric shapes gives the impression of efficiency, structure, and organisation.
Organic shapes are much more curvy and irregular. They often represent natural shapes such as leaves and clouds. Organic and natural shapes are visually pleasing, and are perceived as comforting.
Abstract shapes are stylised, simplified forms that are commonly used to imply or stand for something else. For example, think of the computer icon of a letter to symbolise email, or the use of a light bulb to represent energy.
Meanings of shapes
Generally, shapes with vertical lines are perceived as representing strength, while horizontal shapes convey peace. Curvy shapes show movement and are seen as feminine, and they signify happiness and generosity. Shapes with sharp lines and angles convey youth and liveliness, and are seen as more masculine.
Circles are associated with the sun, moon and earth, and their unending line represents completeness and wholeness. Impressions associated with circles include grace, femininity, harmony, safety and connection.
Squares and rectangles are associated with order, formality, and rationality. Rectangles and squares suggest security, equality, conformity, and peacefulness.
Triangles imply tension, action, power, energy, and aggression. They suggest movement, and can act as pointers to focus a viewer’s attention. Triangles are associated with masculinity, and convey purpose, direction, and progressiveness.
Crosses are seen as spiritual symbols, a representation of divine energy and healing. They convey balance, hope, unity, and faith.
Spiral shapes represent creativity, nature, and transformation. Spirals convey movement and change, and the release of energy.
Research has found that 90% of a first impression or snap judgment about a product is based solely on colour. One of the most important aspects is the perceived appropriateness of the logo colour to the product. While blue is the most popular and favoured colour for both sexes, preferences vary between men and women for other colours. The sharpest divide is over the colour purple, which 23% of women and 0% of men list as a favourite. In fact, 22% of men list purple as their least favourite colour.
Women tend to prefer softer colours and tints of colours (made by adding white to a colour), while men prefer brighter colours and shades of colours (made by adding black to a colour). Understanding this psychology can influence the design of your logo if you want your product to appeal primarily to men or women. If you are selling a product aimed at new mothers, for instance, you don’t want a logo with a bright orange triangle, as both the colour and sharp lines appeal more to men.
Many studies have attempted to classify consumer response to colours in terms of branding, but colour preference is too dependent on personal experiences and cultural interpretations to make a correlation between colour and meaning possible. Whatever colour you decide to choose when designing a logo, choosing one dominant colour for simplicity and then sticking to it will help customers start to associate that colour with your message.
The Isolation Effect is a psychological principle stating that an item which stands out from its surroundings is likely to be remembered. Using a compellingly shaped logo in a colour that coordinates with the ideas you want your brand to convey is a positive step to helping your business stand out.