The Study of Shapes
Written By: DeAnna Strong
If we look at logos and branding that contain circles like Starbucks, Spotify, and Target at first
glance these all have different business types and different consumers they are applying to. If
we take circles at face value they represent a sense of unification and wholeness. If we think of
a round table where everyone seated has an equal amount of space and there's no one above
anyone or at the “head” of the table, then we can see that equality comes from circles as well.
Target is a supermarket, and many different people go into their stores everyday but they all
come for one common purpose which is to buy something they need or want. Spotify is a music streaming service that services all types of music not just one genre or artist. Starbucks services a wide variety of people with a vast menu of items that are for anyone and everyone.
With squares and hard edges in logos and brands like Lego, Microsoft, and Best Buy, we can
sense that a feeling of security, solidity, and organization take the forefront. Squares are like a
foundation for a house, solid, sturdy, and meant to last. For branding and logos with squares
you cater to an audience that trusts in the security of what they are buying. We have a sense of trust with squares and the four 90 degree angles because we can know what to expect. For
Lego the logo looks like one of their bricks, but it also is a great way to communicate that the act of building and making is important for kids, teenagers, and even adults. It's explorative,
innovative, and solid. For Microsoft, this is more focused towards tech consumers and the four
different color squares with the larger square in the negative space. These elements bring solid
product, reliability of technology, and trusted service to mind. With Best Buy they have a couple different elements but the “tag” shape within the square exudes that they have the best price within the four walls of their establishment for their consumers.
What is super interesting is when certain companies like Instagram bring elements of both
squares and circles into their brand for both design of the camera in the center, but also a sense of unification within the constructs of their app. The rounded corners of the square make it soft and welcoming to the consumers. It is a trusted space for people to share photos throughout their life and it is very effective at the emotions and branding it displays.
Another main shape in designs and branding for larger companies like Adidas, Mitsubishi, and Citgo is the triangle. Triangles are like a mountain and being at the summit is the ultimate
experience. Logos with triangles have a sense of unity like circles and squares but it's more
specific and adventurous. If you look at Adidas the slanted black blocks are headed into an
upward direction like climbing a hill or going towards your ultimate goal. With Mitsubishi, the
components of the diamonds make a triangle with Gestalt theory. Even though the diamonds do not have an outline to make a triangle we see the triangle with the smaller white triangles within it. Gestalt theory is the theory that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, like the Mitsubishi logo. The Citgo logo has a three-triangle logo that makes it look like a pyramid in the center with a high point. This pyramid is good at giving the idea of travel to the highest point or in a metaphorical sense having the best quality and service. Being at the top and seeing the fruits of your labor and having a sense of success.
Overall shape plays a very important role in defining your brand and logo because the message you give to your audience is one that will stick with them. What we do as designers is make sure the message you want comes across the clearest to your target consumers. Looking for a sturdy and secure feeling? We might lean towards squares. Wanting a sense of unity and equality? We might recommend a circle somewhere in your brand. Searching for a feeling of adventure and aspiration? We will look into triangles for you. Whatever you're designing and branding needs are, we will help you get there and explain our process as we go. *Starbucks, Spotify, Target, Lego, Microsoft, Best Buy, Instagram, Adidas, Mitsubishi, and Citgo own their own brands, and these were only used as examples of explanation.*