Posted on


It’s no secret that shape and colour are hugely important in branding and advertising, but what kinds of effects do specific shapes and colours have on peoples’ perceptions of your brand? Even small design decisions such as font choices can have an impact, so these choices aren’t ones that should be made lightly.

Colours and Emotions

The psychological properties of colours are well-established. Red is aggressive and stimulates hunger, blue is intellectual and inspires trust, yellow is optimistic, black is efficient and stylish. Big-brand organisations use the psychology of colour to stunning effect in logo design, and studying the logos of the most successful brands can be highly instructive in designing your own branding material.

For example, contrast the green logos of organisations such as Greenpeace and Starbucks, with the black of Chanel, the blue of Barclays and Visa, and the purple of Cadbury. Each colour evokes a different set of emotions, and each organization has chosen its colours very specifically to tap into those emotions: natural green, sophisticated black, calm blue, and nostalgic purple.

Suggestions in Shapes

Shapes work in a similar fashion to suggest different concepts. Curves, straight lines, and angles all evoke different concepts and feelings, and can encourage people to infer various different qualities about a brand depending on how these elements are incorporated into a design. For example, hard angles and triangles are seen as having masculine connotations, while curves and circles are viewed in a more feminine light. The multiple points of symmetry in square shapes imply balance and stability, while similar concepts are also suggested by rings, due to their role as symbols of marriage.

These considerations aren’t only relevant to images and shapes; font choices are affected too. For example, angular typefaces are typically seen as more dynamic or masculine, sans serif typefaces appear modern, and rounded fonts are softer and more feminine. Again, look at big-brand logos to see how font choices make an impact: the nostalgic colours of Cadbury work well with the logo’s old-fashioned font, while the bold and simple Chanel font is a perfect match for sophisticated black.

Putting Shape and Colour to Work in Logo Design

Concepts of shape and colour are easy to learn, but are not always so simple to use. It can be particularly useful again to look at the big brands. Think about the brands your organisation is most like, and look at the elements incorporated in their logos. This can help give you a starting point when thinking about what you want in your own branding material.