What comes to your mind first when you think about some of the most iconic brands in the world? Yes, you are right, it is their logos! Be it Apple or McDonald’s, the logo is the first thing that comes floating to our minds. In this article I will talk about how designers intelligently combine logo shapes, colors and fonts to make the face of the company timeless and memorable.
Have you always wondered how logos seem to attract people so easily? Do you want to use some of the psychological hacks used by designers to create your own logo? Well, your wait is over! ‘5 Ways to Use Shape Psychology in Your Logo’ in the bonus section of this article will help you with just that.
Let’s get started.
What is a logo?
Simply put, a logo is a symbol which is used to promote public recognition. A logo serves as the visual identity of a brand and helps foster brand loyalty. A good logo provides insights into how a brand functions and what it values.
Apart from being the face of the company a logo helps the business stand apart from the crowd. It provides a unique mark that helps foster brand recognition. Given below are a few reasons why having a logo is important:
- Grabs attention in matter of seconds
Times have changed and so have preferences of people. The current generation is marked by speed: fast food, fast cars and fast life have resulted in shorter attention spans of people. Companies have about 2 seconds to impress potential customers and this is where LOGO makes a grand entry! A logo quickly grabs the attention of the people and communicates what the brand has to provide in a matter of seconds.
- Foundation of brand identity
Humans are emotional beings and successful branding is all about influencing people’s emotions through your brand story. While it is true that a logo only forms a part of branding, it serves as the foundation of brand identity as it influences every other element of the brand’s narrative. From letterheads to billboards and from landing pages to social media, a logo acts as an anchor to communicate the brand story.
- Separates you from competition
Think hard about how your brand is different from the others. While there may be 100 tea shops in your city, yours might be the only one that uses clay cups to serve tea. You can single out the point and use it in your earthy logo to convey your point to potential customers. A logo truly has the power to separate you from the crowd giving you the much deserved visibility.
Having a logo has its benefits, but why does it impact the mind and does so with precision? Well, the answer is PSYCHOLOGY! Fonts, colors and shapes affect the mind in various ways. Logos combine the three to evoke various emotions and feelings in people influencing them to become loyal customers.
Psychology of fonts
A study conducted by the Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL) at Wichita State University found that traditional fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial were considered “mature” and “stable” but “unimaginative at the same time. Fonts like Comic Sans were considered “happy” and “youthful”.
The shapes of various letters and fonts have various psychological effects on people; therefore, you must be careful and select the right font which would perfectly fit your brand’s personality.
How do I know which font style will be the best for my business?
Conventional? You can go for Arial or Helvetica. Offbeat? Maybe Kirsten or Papyrus could be exactly what you are looking for.
You should look for traditional and clean fonts when going for a business logo. Traditional and clean fonts such as Arial, Helvetica or Times New Roman will let people know you’re trustworthy and credible.
Tea shops, gift shops or coffee shops should avoid overly clean fonts. The fonts you choose should let people feel relaxed and comfortable exactly like your tea or coffee shop.
Let us now look at various fonts and different things they communicate:
Due to their classical nature, serif fonts are ideal for companies that want to portray the feeling of being “established” inspiring trust and respect. Times New Roman, Garamond and Georgia are some popular choices in the serif font category. Academics, editorials and financial companies widely use serif types.
Slab serif fonts
Generally regarded as the “sub-set” of serif fonts, slab serifs have their uniqueness and contain specific slab sections. Some popular slab serif fonts are Rockwell, Museo and Courier. Associated with confidence and bold attitude, slab serif fonts are used by companies that want to impress the market with new innovative ideas.
Sans serif fonts
Sans serif fonts, like Arial, Helvetica and Century Gothic, are picked by brands that want to convey clarity, simplicity and no-nonsense demeanor. Technology companies and clothing brands mostly use the sans serif fonts.
Fancier than their serif counterparts, script fonts are generally favored by companies that want to evoke the feelings of femininity and artistry. Script fonts also convey the ideas of elegance and creativity. Zapfino, Lucida Script and Lobster are some examples of script fonts.
“Modern fonts” have been around since the eighteenth century and are designed to be simple and legible. Mostly used to convey the feelings of intelligence and style, modern fonts are used for attracting young people. Matchbook, Klavika and Politica are some modern fonts.
Display and decorative fonts
With display and decorative fonts, you can choose to get as creative as possible. You can convey an array of emotions through the use of display and decorative fonts. These kinds of fonts are ideal for almost any kind of business since they can be used in any way you want. You can even create your very own custom typeface as design decorative fonts can be designed from the scratch.
Bombing, Gigi and Jokerman are some commonly used display and decorative fonts.
Color psychology of logos
Colors have a language of their own: whether you realize it or not, they communicate with us all the time and have a huge psychological impact on the mind.
Though, how every individual perceives colors may be different, they all have some basic qualities. Let’s take a quick look into what various colors mean:
Red: Connected to love, passion, life and anger, the color red is generally used by designers to quickly grab attention and evoke the feelings of warmth and excitement.
Green: Designers use the color to evoke the feeling of good health, knowledge and sustainability.
Yellow: Connected with light and energy, yellow is used by designers to convey the message of happiness.
Blue: The color represents integrity, trust, reliability and honesty.
Purple: Creativity, spirituality, respect and loyalty are often associated with purple.
Pink: The color evokes the feeling of love, romance, compassion and sophistication.
Black: This is the color that is associated with seriousness, intelligence and intellect.
White: Exactly the opposite of black, white evokes the feelings of innocence, purity and peace.
Brown: The color is associated with being organic, rugged, natural and earthy
Grey: Connected to refinement and neutrality, grey is often used by designers to evoke the feeling of practicality.
Colors have diverse meaning and are interpreted differently based on culture and geographical locations. Therefore, if you are looking to deliver the maximum impact through your logo designs, conducting an extensive research on your audience may prove fruitful.
It is extremely important to understand how mixing different colors in a single design may have varied psychological impact on the audience, for example:
- Mixing bright colors makes the design look youthful and childlike.
- Going for a monochromatic scheme will allow you to experiment with vibrant colors while maintaining a more unified feel.
- The classy combination of black and white will allow you to express sophistication and maturity.
As a designer, choosing and mixing colors that convey “brand-appropriate” emotions should be the number one priority.
Psychology of shape
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research the shape of a logo can influence people in more ways than one. The shape of a logo not only conveys what the brand offers, it also tells people about its core values.
Why are logo shapes so crucial?
The human brain is actually hard-wired to remember shapes more than texts. The human brain assigns meanings to complex shapes and easily retains them. A distinctive shape is easily etched in the memory: Nike and Apple logos are the best examples.
The shape of a logo can do the following:
- Convey various ideas in a matter of seconds.
- Guide the eyes very smoothly from one element to the other.
- Create and build trust.
- Convey varied emotions and moods.
- Create a sense of depth.
- Connect with the audience on many different levels.
Let us now look at some shapes and how they impact customers.
Playful and energetic, circles are used to symbolize motion and completeness. They are very common in logo designs and portray the following:
- Positive messages: Circles are softer than triangles and squares. They are more welcoming and attract people with its positivity.
- Unity: Just like a wedding ring, circular logos convey an important bond.
- Strength: Circles are sturdy – they don’t break easily. Using them in logos can make your business look reliable.
Circles have been brilliantly used in logos all over the world. Circle in the iconic NASA logo depicts stability and their devotion towards space exploration. The circles in the Olympic logo convey the message that people from every background or race can participate in the global event.
Squares depict balance and proportion. In fact, it is the favorite of designers and probably the most used shapes of all. A square can inspire trust in people who are out looking for strength and safety.
The YouTube logo has slightly rounded edges which resemble an old TV. The BBC logo is powerful and strong which conveys a sense of reliability.
Squares are widely used by designers; therefore, a risk of it getting boring and outdated cannot be ruled out. Designers must use various color combinations and other design elements to make it look interesting: Microsoft logo is the best example of squares and colors brilliantly combined.
Not as popular as squares or circles, triangles can be equally appealing when used strategically. Triangles can convey power, innovation, energy and hierarchy when used with various colors.
Though triangles are not favored by businesses that want their customers to feel safe, they are used by those brands that want to boost brand awareness. Delta Airlines, for example, have used the triangle in their logo to convey speed and movement.
Circles, squares and triangles get all the attention when designers think of logos; however, there is one more shape that brands and designers overlook – lines.
A horizontal line communicates tranquility and calmness and a vertical line evokes the feeling of sophistication and strength.
Vertical lines are extremely engaging and draw the eyes of the viewers downwards to the company name. While vertical lines convey professionalism like squares, they depict motion like triangles. The vertical lines in the SoundCloud logo are a great example of creativity and power at once. The combination of vertical lines and curves of a cloud takes the SoundCloud logo to the next level.
Horizontal lines, in contrast, represent tranquility and calmness. Logos with horizontal lines are different from their vertical counterparts as it makes the customers feel protected. The IBM logo is the best example of a company insignia with horizontal lines.
Organic shapes are nature identical shapes, such as leaves, trees, stars, skies, oceans, animals, mountains and so on. Organic elements are used in logo designs to convey the message of warmth and comfort.
The Gatorade logo has thunderbolt as the centerpiece of its design and conveys raw energy. The best way to use organic shapes is to first think about how it could boost your brand narrative just like the Gatorade logo.
Now that you know how logo psychology works, let’s put it to test by using shape psychology in your logos.
1. Choose the shape that is right for you
We explored various shapes and how they can impact people. You know your business best, so think about the ways you want to communicate with people and use the shape that best fits your brand
2. Combine shape and color
Combining various colors with shapes can have varying results. A yellow circle would depict energy, whereas a blue circle would depict a peaceful spiritual journey. The right combination of shapes and colors is crucial in building your brand.
3. Choose a shape relevant to your brand
You must be extremely careful when choosing a shape for your brand. The shape you choose must accurately describe what your brand does. The shape you choose must also be in line with your brand’s narrative. Childcare or service-oriented companies may choose circles, while insurance and finance companies should stick to squares.
4. Choose the right fonts
Shapes and colors are really important but neglecting the right typeface for your company could prove to be a costly affair. Fonts have their own shapes and convey a variety of messages.
5. Stay simple
The “golden rule” in logo design is to “keep it simple”. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in experimenting with ideas, fitting too many ideas in one logo design could prove problematic
I will repeat what I’ve already mentioned a few times; a timeless piece of logo is a well thought out combination of shapes, colors and fonts. The three together can evoke various emotions that would help people stick to your brand.
Head of Design at DesignBro and is responsible for UI/UX Design, managing the global designer community, and ensuring quality levels of both designers and designs remain high.