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Decoding Logo Shapes and Their Meanings

by Alice Jackson Tweet - in Logo Design

Decoding Logo Shapes and Their Meanings

What does a logo mean? Did you know different logo shapes have different psychological impacts on viewers’ feelings? A particular shape can influence people about the brand it’s associated with. We tend to think in a specific way when we see circular, triangular, or rectangular-shaped signs. But seldom have we known these shapes actually carry special meanings with them.  

So, before we look into the meaning of logo shapes and their relationship with brands, let us learn more about them. 

What is a shape?

We see shapes everywhere, with every small to big object having a shape. But what exactly is shape? 

A shape, in geometry, is the outline of an object. The outline is the boundary or external surface of the object. So, the shape is about an arrangement achieved by joining lines together. However, the lines are joined in a specific way to form the outer edge of an object or a person’s body. 

Not only designers but artists also use shapes to express their creative thoughts. The definition of shape in art is that a shape is a two-dimensional space. That means shapes are not necessarily created with lines. Color and values such as dark and light to have the impression of shadows also can create shapes. That helps create a three-dimensional appearance of an object. 

Whenever you get a custom logo design service, ensure to choose the right shape definition for better clarity and brand messaging. It will help establish an emotional connection with people, especially with a target audience. 

Exploring Logo Shapes and their Meanings

You have seen many logos of different local and global companies. These symbols help customers and people identify a business and its offerings. But have you paid any attention to see that each one of them has a specific shape, font, and color scheme? 

Like specific color theories, shapes also have meanings associated with them. When brands contact designers for brand design, they work closely with the creative team or designer to finalize a shape relevant to their core messaging. Even when you use a digital logo maker, you can check the specific meanings of shapes on the Web before making a selection.

Designers understand how to create an impact and convey the brand message to the target audience. They associate some attributes with logo shapes. While circular shapes evoke stability, femininity, unity, community, and friendship, triangular shapes stand for power, masculinity, law, and science. 

Square shapes express professionalism, strength, and efficiency. Similarly, while vertical lines best convey masculinity, aggression, stability, and progress, horizontal lines give the impression of tranquility, calm, community, and speed.

Here are different logo shapes with their meaning: 

01. Circle logos — unity and completeness 

Circle shapes have been prominently used to create logos. This is because circular shapes symbolize completeness and are associated with protection, continuity, and security. Since circles give the impression of being soft and round, they look pleasing to the eye.

Circle logos

The Olympic logo is an iconic example of a circular shape. The round symbol stands for unity. The overlapping of multiple circles conveys togetherness and community building that is crucial to a sports gathering at the global level. 

02. Square and rectangle logos — balance and stability 

Square and rectangle shapes convey balance and stability. Brands use a square and rectangular shape sign to signal that their companies take good care of customers. These shapes are also known for stability and reliability. Square shapes also stand for solidity in a business logo. 

Square and rectangle logos

But square objects are common shapes that we find everywhere. Creative companies and designers use these shapes to make the design appear relevant.  

The Ritter Sport logo is an excellent example of how the shape conveys the brand’s message. The company’s chocolate bars are square. So, its logo looks like a square container. 

03. Triangle logos — dynamic and mystical

Triangle shapes are less common, making them unique when creating logos. Such brandmarks with triangular shapes look dynamic and have some mystical appearance. Also, graphic designers can incorporate some playfulness in a logo using the shape. This helps position a brand differently in its niche market. 

Triangle logos

With the shape pointing upward in the Mitsubishi Motors, the triangular symbol’s meaning is about progress and modernity.  Its two points are grounded, which stands for the brand’s stability. Since the triangle logo can be rotated, it indicates its brand’s movements and dynamic nature. 

For example, the three thick diagonal lines making a triangular shape convey speed and motion quite relevant in sports. The same logo graces the sports shoes brand — Adidas. So, next time if someone asks what the Adidas logo meaning is, you can simply say speed and motion.  

04. Horizontal and vertical logo shapes — courage and progress 

Horizontal and vertical logo shapes are frequently explored to convey brand identity and message. Vertical lines stand for courage, progress, dominance, and strength. Creative people also use these lines to guide the eye in a specific direction. Horizontal lines express speed, community, and calmness. These lines give the impression of a wider logo appearance. 

Horizontal and vertical logo shapes

The IBM logo is a good example of how horizontal logo shapes are useful in creating an effective brandmark. Many horizontally drawn lines make the letters IBM of the brand name. Spotify is another example where the horizontal lines communicate connectivity since the brand is a music-listening app. 

Bumble is an app for building women-led relationships. Its logo has three small horizontal lines to express a sense of trust and community.  

05. Spiral and organic logo shapes — whimsical and fluid

Organic shapes are unique natural shapes that are still recognizable. These include fire, trees, flowers, etc. Due to the free-flowing nature of organic shapes, viewers and customers find them soothing. 

Spiral and organic logo shapes

Patagonia logo is a good example of an organic-shaped logo. It has a wordmark logo with its full brand name. However, there is a mountain landscape in the backdrop of the brandamrk design. The organic shape of the mountains in the logo stands for natural beauty and adventure.  So, the shape itself conveys that the brand is about adventure.

Spiral shapes are the ones that have a spiraling effect. Spiral logo shapes are more whimsical and fluid. They can have a circular or rounded shape while feeling hand-drawn or free-form. The Somersby logo has many soft spiral shapes. These shapes look like the foliage of a tree. The result is a very organically shaped brandmark.

Due to their “organic” feel, companies in health, wellness, and food industry often adopt these curvy shapes into their brandmark and overall branding.

06. Abstract logo shapes — versatile and vivid 

Abstract logo shapes are the ones that have no conventional and definite shape. You cannot get a specific meaning of the shape. Such logos mainly depend on the impression viewers get for conveying a meaning. These shapes make a logo look like a unique design that can also deliver different meanings. 

Abstract logo shapes

For instance, you cannot have just one Starbucks’ symbol meaning since it is an abstract logo. There is some historical background behind the sirens luring sailors to this logo. Still, it holds multiple meanings for the modern viewers. 

The Slack logo is not a conventional shape. It is neither circular nor square. It is a multicolor logo with no defined shape, and you can get your meaning. 

Similarly, the Squarespace logo is a non-conventional shape. The designer used the ‘S’ letter to shape the logo, but it still looks abstract to viewers. Tik Tok logo is another great example of an abstract logo with different meanings, though it is a musical note symbol but the brand it is used for is of social connections.

You’d be surprised to know that some of the abstract and descriptive logos are easily recognized by people than other logos. 

Tips to choose a logo shape  

Now that you are familiar with different logo shapes, it would help to know how to pick the right shape for your company logo. Here are some useful tips:

Consider your brand values and personality.

Make sure you know your brand value clearly before choosing a logo shape. Consider those values while comparing different shapes. Find out which shape will best convey those values. Also, the shape should be such that it helps project your brand’s personality effectively. 

The shape should align with your brand colors 

Consider your brand colors while choosing a shape for your business logo. Know that colors evoke different emotions. For instance, red triggers love, passion, and aggression, while yellow is the color of hope and brightness. 

So, ensure you choose an impressive logo shape with the right color combinations. Such an alignment of the shape with the colors works well to drive people’s attention to your brand.

Research your competition

Research your competitors ‘ logo shapes before creating yours. Find out what shapes are most common or used by them. You should then come up with a shape that is less used. That will help your brand stand out in your niche. 

So, these are the iconic logos and their significance in terms of their shapes. You can explore these shapes for your own brand logo. But choose a figure carefully. You should be considering different aspects of your business. 

Even when you make your own logo, first decide on the shape that best suits your brand personality. Know that one shape only applies well to some of the logos. 

Designhill is one of those platforms that lets you use a DIY tool or get a brandmark designed by a community of designers via logo contests

Wrapping Up 

Logo shapes are crucial design elements every designer explores to convey brand’s personality and message. Major shapes include circular, square, rectangular, triangular, abstract, spiral, and organic. However, only some of these shapes will suit your brand given the meaning you want to convey or business you’re into. You should choose the shape that best describes your brand personality and message. 

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1



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