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Logo Shapes: The Science Behind Their Impact

Logo Shapes: The Science Behind Their Impact

When you encounter a logo, you also experience the brand's personality. The longer you look at it, the more you become immersed in the many meanings that the company exudes towards its customers.

The logo becomes a memorable aspect that shapes the brand's image as customers interact with it. For example, if you are looking for tissues, you are more likely to buy Kleenex than the other twenty brands on the shelf. And why? Because the logo serves as a symbol through which a brand presents itself to the world. It arouses emotions in consumers and motivates them to make purchasing decisions. Therefore, a logo should effectively convey the brand's ideals, mission, vision and core messages while considering the audience's perception.

The elements of the logo, including colours and shapes, are closely linked to and can significantly influence human behaviour. In this article, we will explore how the shape of a logo affects the human mind and the scientific reasoning behind it.

We will analyse each type of shape and how it challenges the human mind to make different assumptions about the logo's meaning and how to respond to them. Before we dive into the details, let's examine the scientific basis of the impact of logos forms on the human mind in general.

Shapes, The Human Mind, And Logos

Science Of Logo Shapes

The brain is a complicated organ that is highly dependent on visual stimuli from the external world. The perception of images and shapes is the basis for the cognitive ability to recognise, manipulate, interpret and interact with the external environment. When the brain receives sensory input, it creates a thought map that enables processing of the current event and makes meaningful, familiar connections to previous experiences and experiences.

Scientific evidence shows that the perceptual process is vital in categorising and understanding objects based on their shapes. These shapes are the attributes of things that surround us. Even when the object is not present, the memory of the shape of the object highlights its essential features.

When the brain is regularly confronted with logos, it recognises the shapes and selects specific features of the object to associate with them. It then links the other elements, such as colours and fonts, to create new meanings for the logo. Once these elements become part of the memory, the brain associates emotions with shapes. The emotional association can be so strong that people unconsciously associate their feelings with the shapes of inanimate objects.

Shapes can express various emotions, from sadness to anger and everything in between. A typical example is the shape of the heart, which people use to express feelings such as love and sentimentality. Symbolism plays a crucial role in logo design, which innovative brands use to attract customers. They use this universal code to connect with the audience personally and influence their buying decisions without the customer realising it.

The science behind the effect of logo shapes on the human mind is based on the cognitive and perceptual processes of the brain. The brain creates mental maps to process and categorise the information it receives from the outside world. This information includes the shapes of objects and their relationship to emotions and experiences stored in the brain's memory.

Different shapes can evoke different emotions, affecting a person's behaviour and perception of a logo or brand. Using specific shapes in logo design can help brands convey a message or feeling to their target audience. For example, sharp edges and angles can evoke a sense of danger or excitement, while curves and circles can evoke a sense of comfort and relaxation.

Why the Logo Shape Matters

Freelance Graphic Designer Logos Inkbot Design Logo Portfolio

Our human brain is designed to recognise shapes and memorise them quickly to learn new things. For this reason, unique and distinctive shapes are easier to recall and leave a lasting impression in our memory. Therefore, shapes, including logos, are the basic building blocks of any design.

But why do shapes have such a significant impact on our brains? It has to do with patterns. We are used to seeing patterns in our environment, be it in combinations of colours and fonts or other design elements combined with shapes. Our brain assigns meaning to these patterns based on past experiences. Different forms can create a clearer emotional and psychological connection between your brand and consumers.

Each shape has associations and can convey a unique message to your audience. Circles, for example, are often associated with unity, harmony and community. They can also bring a sense of wholeness or completeness, making them a popular choice for logos that need to convey a sense of balance or inclusivity. Squares and rectangles, on the other hand, get stability, reliability and professionalism. They can bring a sense of structure, order and security. With their dynamic and directional qualities, triangles can represent energy, progress and ambition.

Understanding what each shape says about your brand and how you can effectively incorporate them into your logo design is essential. The shape you choose should match your brand's personality and values, as well as the preferences and expectations of your target audience. For example, if your brand is in the healthcare industry, you should use soft, rounded shapes that convey a sense of comfort and care. On the other hand, if your brand is in the technology industry, you should use sharp, angular shapes that suggest innovation and progress.

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Logo Shapes And The Impact They Create

As mentioned earlier, customers evaluate logos based on their perceptions and response. A well-designed logo can distinguish between a brand that stands out and blends in with the competition. However, the logo's impact goes beyond mere aesthetics, as the shape of a logo can convey a subconscious symbolic meaning.

Logos come in different shapes, and each shape falls into one of three broad categories: 

  1. geometric
  2. organic
  3. abstract

Geometric logos use basic shapes such as squares, circles and triangles to design a logo. They are often used to convey stability, balance and symmetry, making them a popular choice for financial institutions and technology companies.

On the other hand, organic logos incorporate free-flowing, natural shapes and curves that mimic natural forms, such as leaves, waves and flowers. Organic logos are often associated with growth, health and well-being and are therefore suitable for food, health and beauty companies.

Abstract logos are more conceptual and interpretive, combining geometric and organic shapes to create a unique design representing the brand's values or vision. Abstract logos are popular in creative industries such as art, design and advertising, where brands want to convey a sense of originality, innovation and creativity.

1 – Geometric Logo Shapes

Circles and Ellipses

Circle Logo Shapes

For a good reason, circular logos are among the most commonly used logo shapes. Circles are timeless and universal and can convey a wide range of meanings. They are often associated with unity, harmony and community. They can also represent a sense of wholeness or perfection, making them a popular choice for logos that need to convey a sense of balance or inclusivity. In addition, circles can bring a sense of movement and energy, which can be very effective for brands that want to give a sense of progress and are forward-thinking.

One of the most famous circular logos is the Starbucks logo. The green circle with a mermaid in the middle has become synonymous with the coffee giant's brand. The circular shape of the logo conveys a sense of warmth and community, while the mermaid represents the brand's connection to the sea and sense of adventure. The Starbucks logo is also highly adaptable, as it can be used on various products, from cups to packaging to shop fronts.

Another iconic circular logo is the BMW logo. The blue and white circular logo with a stylised propeller in the middle has become synonymous with the luxury car manufacturer. The round shape of the logo conveys a sense of movement and energy, while the propeller represents the brand's roots in aircraft engines. The BMW logo is highly recognisable and serves as a symbol of luxury and innovation.

In the healthcare industry, circular logos are often used to convey a sense of care and comfort. The American Red Cross logo is a prime example of a circular logo used in healthcare. The circular shape of the logo conveys a sense of unity and community, while the red cross represents the brand's commitment to health and wellness.

Squares and Rectangles

Squares Logo Design

Square logos are among the most popular logo shapes as they convey a sense of stability, balance and professionalism. The square shape represents a sense of order and structure, making it an excellent choice for brands that want to instil confidence and trust in their customers.

One of the most iconic square logos is the Nike logo. The simple but powerful design features a white Swoosh on a black background. The square shape of the logo provides a stable and grounded foundation for the Swoosh, suggesting movement and progress. The Nike logo represents a reliable, robust and constantly evolving company.

Another well-known square logo is the LinkedIn logo. The blue and white square with the letter “in” in the middle has become synonymous with the professional networking site. The square shape of the logo conveys a sense of stability and reliability, while the lowercase “in” represents the company's focus on networking and connections.

In the technology industry, square logos are often used to convey a sense of innovation and modernity. The Microsoft logo is a prime example of a square logo used in the technology industry. The four squares in the logo represent the different aspects of the company's business: Windows, Office, Xbox and Bing. The square shape of the logo conveys a sense of stability and reliability, while the bright colours suggest innovation and creativity.

Triangles

Famous Triangle Logos
Source: Fabrik Brands

Triangles are one of the strongest shapes in logo design, as they convey a sense of stability and strength. The shape also represents progress and movement, making it an excellent choice for brands that want to share a sense of growth or improvement.

One of the most iconic triangle logos is the Adidas logo. The three stripes in this logo form a triangle representing a mountain, symbolising the challenges and goals athletes try to overcome. The triangular shape of the logo conveys a sense of strength and stability, while the three stripes suggest progress and movement. The Adidas logo represents a company that focuses on helping athletes achieve their goals.

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Another well-known triangle logo is the Delta Air Lines logo. The logo is a blue triangle with a red delta in the middle. The triangular shape of the logo represents stability and strength, while the delta represents progress and forward movement. The Delta Air Lines logo represents a company that provides reliable and innovative air transport services.

In the technology industry, triangle logos are often used to convey a sense of innovation and cutting-edge technology. Mitsubishi Electric's logo is a prime example of a triangle logo used in the technology industry. The three triangles in the logo represent the company's three core values: quality, technology and trust. The triangular shape of the logo conveys a sense of stability and strength, while the bright colours suggest innovation and creativity.

In the food industry, triangular logos are often used to convey a sense of freshness and quality. The Toblerone logo is a classic example of a triangle logo used in the food industry. The logo shows a mountain peak representing the Swiss Alps, where the chocolate is made. The triangular shape of the logo conveys a sense of stability and strength, while the mountain peak suggests freshness and quality.

Hexagons

Hexagon

Hexagons are becoming increasingly popular as logo shapes. It is a six-sided polygon with straight sides and angles equal to 120 degrees. Hexagons are symmetrical and balanced, which makes them visually appealing to the human eye. The hexagon is an excellent example of a transitional shape between squares and circles, which gives it a unique aesthetic appeal.

One of the main advantages of using hexagons in logo design is that they are generally not rounded. The straight sides give them a sharp, angular character that conveys a sense of strength, stability and reliability. At the same time, the hexagon's rounded corners give it a softer, more personable look, making it an excellent choice for various industries.

Hexagons combine the simple and essential characteristics of circles and squares, making them harmonious and intriguing. It is a perfect representation of balance, which is why it is often used in the financial and technology industries. The symmetrical design of the hexagon is ideal for conveying the sense of order, stability and professionalism that these industries require.

Another advantage of using hexagons in logo design is that you can easily change them to represent different meanings. For example, by adding depth or dimensions to a hexagon, a brand can convey the impression of growth or progress, making it an excellent choice for businesses in the health, wellness or fitness industries.

Horizontal Lines

Ibm Company Logo Design

Horizontal lines are often associated with stability and calm. They represent a sense of balance and equilibrium, so they are often used in logos for industries such as finance and real estate. The use of horizontal lines in a logo can also convey a sense of professionalism and sophistication.

One of the most famous logos with horizontal lines is the IBM logo. The logo consists of horizontal lines of varying thicknesses representing progress and innovation. The logo's simplicity conveys a sense of professionalism and sophistication consistent with IBM's focus on technology and innovation.

Another example of a logo that uses horizontal lines is the Coca-Cola logo. The logo features a horizontal red band representing the brand's commitment to quality and tradition. The horizontal lines of the band convey a sense of stability and reliability, which is consistent with Coca-Cola's long tradition of producing high-quality beverages.

Vertical Lines

Cisco Logo Design

When designing logos, each element has its effect on the viewer. One such element is the use of vertical lines. In contrast to the calming effect of horizontal lines, vertical lines convey strength, stability and future orientation.

Vertical lines convey a sense of upward movement and remind us of the space between the earth and the sky, representing infinite possibilities. These lines are associated with progress, innovation and modernity and are, therefore, a good choice for companies that want to convey these values.

Using vertical lines in logos can make a brand appear bolder, stronger and more enduring. One of the most famous logos that use vertical lines is Adidas. The three vertical stripes in the Adidas logo are a testament to the strength and reliability of the brand.

Vertical lines are also versatile and can be used for various visual associations. For example, they can represent the walls of a building, the edges of a rocket, or even form larger images when adequately layered.

Technology companies and ‘disruptors' are some of the businesses that could benefit from incorporating vertical lines into their logo design. These lines convey an image of innovation and boldness that suits companies looking to break the status quo.

However, it is vital to use vertical lines wisely. Too many vertical stripes can make a brand appear domineering and overly aggressive. Companies that use vertical lines in their logos include SoundCloud and Cisco. These brands use straight lines to frame their designs with stable elements, giving the impression of reliability and efficiency.

2 – Organic Shapes

Lululemon Bf

When designing logos, shapes can significantly impact how consumers perceive a brand. One shape that has gained popularity in recent years is organic shapes.

Organic shapes, also known as natural or curvilinear, are freeform shapes that do not conform to a strict geometric pattern. These shapes are inspired by nature and appear softer and more flowing. They can convey a sense of playfulness, creativity and accessibility.

Organic shapes are often used by companies that want to appeal to a younger or more progressive audience. They are a popular choice for brands in the beauty and wellness industry as they convey a sense of naturalness and purity. One brand that uses organic shapes to great effect is Lululemon. The brand's logo features a striking, asymmetrical symbol resembling the stylised letter “A. The organic form of this symbol conveys a sense of movement and flow, which is very fitting for a brand that sells activewear.

You can also use organic shapes to convey a sense of unity and community. An example of this is the logo of the World Wildlife Fund, which contains a distinctive, asymmetrical symbol that resembles a stylised panda. The organic shape of the character conveys a sense of naturalness and environmental awareness while also evoking a sense of community and togetherness.

3 – Abstract Shapes

Nike Logo Design History

Abstract forms are simplified shapes that do not necessarily represent recognisable objects. Instead, they often convey emotions or concepts more abstractly and symbolically. These shapes can create a sense of intrigue and mystery or evoke a specific emotion or feeling.

Nike is an example of a company that uses abstract shapes in its logo. The company's iconic “swoosh” is a simple, flowing shape representing movement and speed. The shape is so abstract that it describes nothing concrete, yet instantly recognisable and synonymous with the Nike brand.

Another brand that uses abstract shapes is Mastercard. The company's logo shows two interlocking circles representing the relationship between customers and merchants. The shapes are so abstract that they do not represent specific objects but still convey a clear message about the brand's values and mission.

When using abstract shapes in logo design, it is essential that the shapes are simple enough to be recognisable and memorable but also complex enough to convey a specific message or emotion. Using colour, negative space and other design elements can also enhance the impact of abstract shapes in a logo design.

Curves and Spirals

Ubisoft Logo

Spirals, while an unusual design element, add a unique and captivating touch to a logo, making it even more exciting and memorable. Spirals are visually appealing and can evoke a sense of calm and fascination in the viewer, making them valuable tools in the design world.

This shape often represents a flow, energy, time or love, and a slow and steady building strategy. For example, the Fetcom logo contains a spiral galaxy, which gives the impression that everything is in constant motion and interconnected. Spirals represent growth, development and adaptability in a brand logo.

Spiral logos suit wellness brands, spas, healers and even technology companies. The Ubisoft logo, for example, uses spirals to symbolise the worlds they have created in their games. Similarly, cider company Somersby has opted for a ‘living tree' concept, with spirals representing the flowing branches, which sets it apart from its competitors.

Spirals could be an excellent addition to your logo if you are in a creative industry or field. Using spirals in your logo design is a clever way to demonstrate your company's creativity, uniqueness and innovative thinking. This shape is a perfect visual tool to convey your brand's identity and values and make your logo distinctive and memorable.

Logo Shapes And Consumer Behaviour

Memorable Logos

As mentioned earlier, logos have a massive impact on the success of a brand and the shape of the logo is an essential part of the design. The right logo shape can increase the effect on the audience and reinforce the intended tone, allowing customers to associate their values with the brand.

Logo designers often mix different patterns and shapes to create a symbolic and concise meaning that resonates well with the audience. This makes a logo that expresses a company's core message and mission.

The Adidas logo, for example, is an excellent example of how the shape of a logo can convey a strong message. The logo consists of three diagonal lines, also known as stripes, that form an asymmetrical triangle or mountain shape. The Adidas brand is known for its high-quality sports shoes, and the logo incentivises action by emphasising the on-the-go motif. The mountain shape of the logo symbolises a challenge, and the three stripes represent the solutions to overcome these challenges, making it a perfect fit for a sports brand.

While the traditional approach to logo design is still prevalent, designers have started mixing different shapes and patterns to create unique and memorable logos. This creative approach ensures that symbols stand out in a crowded market and are better recognised and remembered by customers.

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Wrapping Up

Given the abundance of forms surrounding us, it can be difficult for humans to remember or engage with each one. However, our subconscious mind continuously picks up on these shapes' emotional signals, regardless of how often we are exposed to them.

Through this process, our subconscious mind can process visual information and decipher its meanings regarding emotions and reactions. Because the workings of the human mind are not always predictable, logo designers experiment with different shapes and other logo elements to create the perfect image of a company or brand.

When designers and brands understand the science behind human perception and how it responds to different shapes, they can develop solutions that resonate well with consumers. The shape of a logo and other elements can profoundly impact how a consumer perceives a brand and how they feel and react to it.

With this knowledge, designers can create logos that are consumer-friendly, visually appealing and leave a positive and lasting impression in the minds of the target audience. Therefore, thoroughly knowing how shapes and other design elements can affect the human psyche is crucial to creating a compelling and memorable brand identity.

Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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