Shapes are everywhere. From coffee cups to smartphone screens to the moon, our eyes are confronted by shapes all day every day. And with each shape comes a wealth of symbolism, meaning, and association. 

In business, the shape of a logo says a lot about the brand it represents. So to make sure we’re saying the right thing, we must first learn to speak the language of shapes.

In this post we’ll explore some of the basic shapes and what they communicate to us.

Circles

Partnership, stability, endurance, community, friendship, unity, protection. Circles naturally communicate positivity. And their likeness to rings is symbolic of marriage, which implies endurance and fortitude.

This is a good shape for eliciting trust, and showing your customer that they are safe in your hands.

Squares

Reliability, strength, power, and balance. You can’t knock a square over. There’s a certain precision and efficiency inherent in this shape. And it’s a solid workhorse. Great for businesses that rely on being perceived as strong and dependable.

Triangles

Energy, science, religion, law, strength, purpose. Many powerful organisations and institutions incorporate triangles into their branding. So this is a shape with very authoritative connotations.

Curves

Tenderness, support, comfort, compassion. The curve cares. Often utilised in the form of a smile, the curve is a gentle symbol for a softer approach. Great for companies that want to build strong and meaningful relationships with their customers.

Thoughts on shape

When thinking about the psychology of shapes, it’s important to remember that we don’t consciously register their associated emotions. When we see a circle, we aren’t suddenly flooded with images of unity and friendship. So it’s not essential that we take their meanings literally.  

That said, these associations exist for a reason. And being aware of the underlying psychologies can help businesses alter how their brand is perceived.  

For more on the psychology of design, take a look at our two posts on how colour affects branding: Winter Marketing: Colours For Evoking Warmth, Empathy, And Affability, and The Art Of Colour: How Palette Affects Brand