A closer look at the shape of a company logo used by top brands will reveal to you that the choice of the shapes was not by any chance. When it comes to building a strong brand, logo design is usually the king. This is because well designed logos have the powers to elicit certain emotional responses from the customers and potential clients in a manner that will make them trust the business in meeting their needs. A lot goes into the logo design to give it the ability to create such an emotional resonance and the shape of the logo is usually one of the factors greatly considered with regards to this.
How the human mind sees and interprets shapes
The subconscious part of the human mind has a different way of responding to logo shapes. Whichever shape is seen by the eyes is transferred to the conscious brain before being passed to the subconscious mind where it will be given a meaning. It implies that the perception created by the mind when it sees a line will be different from the perception created when the mind sees a circle, triangle, oval or jagged shapes. Take an example of the Swoosh used by Nike. The shape and the curves adopted immediately bring motion to mind.
Logo shape and the messages they send
The following are some of the meanings inferred by the mind when it sees the various shapes-:
Circles, ellipses and ovals – these logo shapes tend to project positive emotional responses. When a circle is used in a logo, it could be a show of friendship, unity, relationship, community etc. Rings on the other hand tend to suggest marriage and partnership as well as endurance and stability. But whenever curves are shown, it will always suggest feminism.
Squares and Rectangles – Logo shapes with straight edges like squares and rectangles are always interpreted by the mind to suggest stability. Keen observation will reveal to you that the rectangle is the widely used logo shape because it is a familiar shape that suggests solidarity, honesty, as well as stability. The straight edges in squares and rectangles also have mathematical meaning in the sense that they show a balanced feel. With such logo shapes, designers are able to show practicality, conformity and rationalism in the designs.
Triangles – Triangular logo shapes are associated with science, religion, law, and power. Triangles are perceived to be more masculine hence their use in companies and businesses dealing predominantly with male products.
Vertical Lines and Horizontal Lines – if you see logo shapes with vertical lines, the mind will perceive aggression, strength, and masculinity. Horizontal lines on the other hand will be perceived to show calm, peace, tranquility and communal spirit.
Spirals – spirals shapes are mostly found in nature. Think of shells and snails in the shores to the dirt being whisked up into the skies. Or think about the stars in the galaxy or large waves in the ocean. They represent an aspect of growth and evolution, the stages in life as well as the seasons of time. When such logo shapes are used in a design therefore, the subconscious mind is likely to think about fertility, transformation, life as well as death.
Their curved nature also does a lot in introducing certain degree of feminism in the logos. Spiral shapes also have flowing nature in the sense that they can move from left to right, up to bottom and they can even spiral into eternity without ever ending.
Relationship between typefaces and shapes of logos
There is a thin line between how the subconscious mind gives meaning to logo shapes and how it gives meaning to typefaces. For instances, angular and jagged typefaces are perceived by the mind as dynamic or aggressive while soft and rounded typefaces appear to be more feminine and youthful. A curved typeface on the other hand will always be feminine while strong and bold typefaces will be perceived as masculine.
Shape psychology in logo design
Now that you understand why the shape of a company logo matters, how then do you apply it in logo designs? Before embarking on any logo design project, start by figuring out the various values and attributes which you intend to convey with the logo. This is a good reason for you to know your client well, understand the nature of their business and also know more about their customers. If possible, you can ask the client to help you come up with a list of their corporate values or alternatively, have a look at their mission and vision statements to see if you can pick a clue or two.
After you understand the message that the logo needs to pass across, it will be easier for you to pick the relevant logo shape and use it for the design.