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How Logo Designers Use Shapes in Logo Design

The way your business or brand is perceived gets shaped by the emotions that its logo design evokes. Therefore, selecting the right shape that your brand will use in its logo design deserves some serious consideration. Even if you only want a simple logo, the process to create it is for sure not as simple as you might think.

Logo designers know only too well that selecting the right shape for their designs does not happen serendipitously as there are strong psychological effects that need to be considered carefully. The following are a couple of the most important aspects on how to include the right shapes and some general tips for your next logo design project.

How do we perceive shapes?

On a subconscious level, we react differently to a straight line, an arch, or a circle. Why does this matter for your business logo? By knowing how the human mind responds to these different shapes, you can highlight certain qualities about your business or brand.

Circles evoke feelings of unity

A circle, for instance, can elicit a positive response as a ring is associated with partnership which alludes to stability and perseverance. Along with other circular shapes like an oval, it can be used to convey cooperation, unanimity, harmony, collaboration, and alliance. In fact, you do not have to use an unbroken circular shape to take advantage of these positive feelings as by including a flowing curve, you can create a similar effect.

Nowadays, circles are an extremely popular shape to use in logo designs thanks to the increasing importance of social media platforms. On top of that, it is also very convenient to use circles in corners. If you do opt for a circle, there is one golden rule – do not force any design element to fit into a circle.

Curves emphasise femininity

Curves are typically regarded as more feminine. A cursive typeface, for instance, is better suited for a female target audience, while men will prefer a bolder typeface.

Triangles and vertical lines emphasise power and masculinity

While circular shapes and flowing curves are regarded as feminine, triangles, and vertical lines are the opposite. The characteristic angular qualities of a triangle will help your logo design to portray your brand as strong and influential. So, if you are looking for some inspiration for a logo for a legal firm or even a church, turn to the triangle.

You can also emphasise your brand’s strength by including vertical lines in your logo design. Used correctly, they can communicate ideas of security, efficiency, and stability. Though, avoid using straight-lined shapes like a triangle with grey or blues as your logo (and therefore your brand) could be perceived as impersonal and undesirable.

Horizontal lines evoke feelings of tranquility

If the diagonal lines that make up a triangle are a bit too lively and forceful for your brand, it will be better to opt for horizontal lines instead. With the help of horizontal lines, you can convey that your business is calm, sensible, and practical, which will help you to portray it as a credible brand. To create an even more tranquil effect, be sure to make your horizontal lines blue. Overall, opting for horizontal lines is one of the safest bets.

Squares evoke feelings of stability

If you want to convey that your business can offer stability, yet find that vertical lines are a bit too aggressive or strong, a square is a more suitable shape to include. Thanks to the characteristic straight sides that make up a square, your logo will communicate to the target audience that your brand is stable, credible, professional, and organised. If you find that a square will make your brand look square, you can use a rectangular shape instead. Also, to avoid creating the impression that your business is devoid of any passion, rather opt for brighter colours (just think what the four brightly coloured squares of Microsoft’s logo have accomplished).

What Should You Consider When Working With Shapes?

Identify the key values and characteristics of your brand or business

Seeing that shapes can be used to emphasise certain qualities, you should set some time aside to jot down the most important values and characteristics of your business that you would like your logo to communicate. If you get stuck, the company’s mission statement can be a good place to start.

This step is important! To ensure the best results, you should only shift your focus to the different shapes, fonts, and colour combos after you have identified the message about the brand that the logo design needs to communicate.

Make a static shape more dynamic

If your logo designs repeat a certain shape, such as a circle, it creates the perception that there is a sense of movement. So, if you want to create the impression that a static shape is in fact moving or simply just want to make your logo designs more visually attractive, be sure to use patterns and repetition such as arrows or diagonal cuts.

Study the Golden Ratio

If you want to try your hand at logo design (in fact most types of design for that matter), you should read up on the Golden Ratio. In short, it refers to a mathematical ratio of 1:1.61 that is often found in our natural surroundings (if you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, you might be familiar with a similar concept namely the Fibonacci Sequence).

It is believed that the Golden Ratio has already been used for more than 3 000 years. There are some that claim that this mathematical ratio has been used by the Ancient Egyptians to build the pyramids. So, it makes sense to try and apply this ratio to your own custom logo designs.

Determine which symbols have a universal meaning

Certain symbols like globes or arrows can be used to communicate universal concepts quite well. You might argue that some of these symbols might appear unoriginal. However, they can be used in conjunction with a shape, graphic, or letter that will arouse more interest in a business logo design.

So, when you ask yourself which ideas your logo design should communicate, you could just find that there is a suitable universal symbol that will communicate that particular idea. After all, as the saying goes – there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Use closure

Another important point to consider is that our eyes have been trained to form a complete picture even if the object is not entirely complete (on condition that sufficient detail has been included). In logo designer terms, this is known as closure (one of the principles of the Gestalt theory). Therefore, when you are playing around with shapes, remember that your target audience will be able to form a pattern when they are presented with similar shapes.

Keep it simple

Whichever shape you decide one, there is one golden rule – keep it simple. Several of the most memorable logo designs such as Nike, Apple, Twitter, and the Olympics use the simplest designs. What is more, these logo designs do not even have any text, yet the majority of consumers would still be able to recognise the name behind the logo in a heartbeat.

In addition to it being easier for your target market to remember, it is also easier for you to use. By avoiding text or too many fine details, you can add your logo design to your internet advertising, your ecommerce store, or virtually anything.

Consider using icons

In many instances, a simpler logo design leaves more to the imagination. Think about it… A couple of the most popular logos like the Nike swoosh, are just very simple icons. These logos many times begin as an icon and the company name. Though, as soon as consumers are familiar with your business name, they will learn to recognise the icon without the name. Once this has happened, you can consider leaving out the name. This might take many years before your target audience completely recognises your icon without the name – so it pays to be patient.

Create it for social media

With the increasing popularity of social media, your logo design will need to be adapted to fit both the specs of different social media platforms and your modern website design. The majority of profile images are square, while a couple of them are circular. Irrespective of the shape, there is never a lot of space for text as these are most of the time a small thumbnail. Therefore, the challenge that logo designers face is to create an easily recognisable design that will fit this small frame.

A Few Final Thoughts

If you feel that your business is out of shape, it might be time to revisit the shapes used in its logo design. Similarly to colour, shapes also have some inherent connotations that can affect your logo design tremendously. Brands like Mitsubishi, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola have shown how a logo designer can a simple shape or swoosh and turn it into something much more glorious and memorable.

Ultimately whichever shape you decide to use in your logo design should be done skillfully. For example, by going over the top with diagonal lines, you can instead evoke much less desirable feelings of unpredictability and risk.

Also, as mentioned earlier, just like shapes, the right colour can also help (or hinder) you to convey the values and characteristics of the brand. Therefore, do not focus on shape alone. For instance, if you feel that the shape that you have picked might be too strong or manly for the business, you can make use of a colour that will make it less intense.

Lastly, it is recommended to test your logo designs amongst your target audience first. Testing is one of the best ways to decide which logo variation to go for, and a focus group can help you to gain more insight into how the custom logo design will be interpreted.

Need some help with your logo design, get in touch with our Melbourne web developer team to discuss your requirements.