The shape of your logo says a lot about your business. It can tell customers if you are friendly or serious, scientific or artistic, traditional or cutting edge. Just like color, logo shapes have meaning and this article is here to help you learn about them. Next time you need a logo you’ll know exactly what shape to use.
Time to get in shape!
Soft, round, organic shapes
If you were playing a game of catch with a friend what would you rather they throw at you—a sharp object or a soft object? The answer is pretty obvious. Even though logos don’t necessarily come flying at you through the air, they can still elicit a similar response. In general, soft, round and organic shapes are less intimidating than sharp ones. They feel harmless, friendly and inviting. In this section we’ll look at how these feelings can be applied to different types of businesses.
Circular, elliptical and ovoid logos
Circles, ellipses and ovals can portray many values and feelings. In the examples above we see these shapes used to portray gentleness with calm farm scenery; light-heartedness with cute animal illustrations; friendliness using an illustration of an seemingly approachable business man; and inclusivity for a family dental logo.
Round logos can also be used to take playfulness in a youth oriented direction as seen in the examples above, which encapsulate colorful, children oriented illustration.
While the soft and gradual curves of circles, ellipses and ovals often lend themselves to gentler applications, these shapes also have a history of being used for badges and stamps, which exist in industries with traditional, authentic or even vintage qualities. The examples above show how these shapes can be used to create a badge or stamp style logo.
Organically shaped logos
It’s not quite a circle, an ellipse or an oval, but it’s soft and round-ish, so what is it? Let’s call these “organic” shapes, because they capture the naturally occurring shapes of nature. Organic shapes are used to create those soft fuzzy feelings that a mathematically perfect circle can’t. They symbolize land for a private investor, portray hope and helpfulness for non profit and represent drops of juice for a cold pressed juice company. If your business has natural or earth oriented qualities, think about using an organic shape!
While less common in logo design, spirals are interesting and useful. They can feel hypnotizing, centralizing or flowing. In the examples above, spirals are used to represent tribalism for a women’s life coaching business, to represent flow and strategy for a marketing, strategy and technology company and to portray personal introspection and transformation for a inspirational speaker. Sound familiar? Try a spiral logo!
Sharp and angular shapes
While sharp and angular shapes are often more intimidating than round soft ones, they aren’t to be avoided. In fact, these shapes are perfect for communicating power, intelligence, stability or just plain coolness! In this section we’ll take a look at how these shapes might relate to your business.
Square and triangle logos
A defining feature which separates angular shapes from soft shapes is the presence of corners. Corners are, by definition, sharp and abrupt. What might that mean for your business? Precision, stability, dependability. In the examples above, squares and triangles are used to represent professionalism for a lawyers and a marketing consultant, to represent stability and control for a home furnishing company and to portray maturity and intelligence in a personal logo.
Squares and triangles are also inherently more “edgy” than circles (no pun intended). In the examples above, triangles are used to portray an alternative way of life for a sustainable textiles company and to give a badass look to a saloon.
Some other values that squares and triangles might represent are power, technology and sleekness.
Logos containing vertical lines
Another form which logos take on is one composed of lines. Vertical lines feel powerful and established, like a stake in the ground. In the examples above, verticals lines are used to represent superiority and strength for an inn and to represent power and rising-up for a supplement company. If your company shares these values a logo with vertical lines is a good choice.
Logos containing horizontal lines
In contrast to vertical lines, horizontal lines are grounding. They can make a logo feel calm and secure. In the example above horizontal lines are used to represent communication and calmness for a company which brings together information and communication technology sectors in Africa.
Horizontal lines can also be used to represent speed and movement for a delivery company.
Cultural logo shapes
Outside the basic shapes, we also see many shapes with specific cultural meanings, such as crosses, hearts and ribbons.
The example above used a cross to represent health. Crosses are also commonly seen in religious logos.
It should come as no surprise that hearts are common shapes in dating apps. Hearts can also be used for animal rescues, food kitchens or non-profits—basically anything that plays on your emotions or empathy.
Ribbons have been in use for a long time to signify awareness. The example above uses a ribbon to bring awareness specifically to breast cancer.
Get your logo in shape
Logos are simple images, but they pack a lot of meaning. As you go about designing yours, make sure you’re thinking about which shapes communicate the message you want to send.