Perception of Logo Shapes

By David Bayliss

Incorporating the right shapes into your brand image.

Logo shape design is one of the basics of making any logo but starting from scratch can be mind boggling. So where is there to start? As companies become more well known and rely less on trying to get their name and more on their logo, it’s important to make sure that you are conveying the correct ideas about your company. Otherwise, how are your customers going to associate it with you? It may not sound important but look at the likes of Apple and Pepsi. You can identify both brands simply by their logo that contains no text prevailing to which company it is at all. With this in mind, we looked over an article by Martin Christie, who is a creative director at Logo Design London, called ‘The psychology of logo shapes: A designer’s guide’ which discusses what shapes can convey in logos.  

You can identify both brands simply by their logo that contains no text prevailing to which company it is at all.

Martin breaks the ideas of shapes in logo making down firstly into how the lines in the shape are perceived - are they straight or curved? The way that the line is structured affects the way that it is perceived by customers and therefore affects the way your brand is represented. Martin then breaks it down further to turn these lines into something more tangible - shapes. The first one that he talks about is circular shapes. The article argues that more rounded shapes can convey ideas of friendship and unity and therefore are more friendly, inviting shapes to go for.

On the other hand the article says that squares and triangles suggest ideas of a more practical origination and that they can also convey a more professional air about them. However, it warns that if combined with colder colours they can come off as uninviting for viewers. The way to offset this is to add colours that are more friendly and welcoming or position them in abstract ways so that they don’t seem as aggressive. Martin warns that vertical lines can be perceived as aggressive or masculine whilst vertical lines have a calming effect.

After a couple of examples on how the different shapes can be seen in existing brands, the article moves onto to talk about the three key aspects of designing a logo; shapes, typefaces and colours. Martin explains that you can use these different aspects of design to offset parts of the design that you don’t feel represent your brand. For example, if blue is part of your corporate colours but you don’t want to come across as cold then offset it with rounded shapes and typefaces. A great example of this in action is the Twitter logo. With blue as it’s only colour it could appear as cold but the curved body of both the typeface and the bird offset this to give it a friendlier appearance. Or LinkedIn with its dark blue colour but the curved lines of the word 'in' counter act this. 

For example, if blue is part of your corporate colours but you don’t want to come across as cold then offset it with rounded shapes and typefaces.

After covering these aspects Martin moves on to explain a little about using white space to create shapes of Gestalt theories from German psychologists. Although only a brief overview, it’s an interesting insight into how creating images with your customers mind is more effective than spelling it all out for them.

A brilliant first insight into the use of shapes when creating your brand logos and definitely food for thought. It’s both easy to read and informative without being overly packed with information about the psychological ins and outs of all shapes.