You see brand logos every day without even realizing. Whether it’s Apple, AT&T, or FedEx, they are everywhere from buses to storefronts. An integral part of a logo is shape, as a shape instantly creates a message and tone without any words. Branding is literally what forms the connection between a company and consumers. In layman’s terms, a brand is a name, term, symbol, design, or in many cases, a combination of these elements.
For example, The AT&T logo is extremely effective as it symbolizes global communication, through the circular design and highlight and shadow effects. In this way, as it is a telephone provider, it complements the company’s mission—to connect users everywhere. At the same time, the design is versatile enough that it can be altered for various purposes, while still being recognizable.
Never underestimate the power of a brand design, as a recent study discovered that brand images can even trigger religious reactions; Dr. Gemma Calvert found that when a person looks at a logo of a well-known brand, their brains register the same pattern of activity as when they view a religious image.
Brand Your Shape
While it may seem obvious that shape, especially in combination with color, make a tremendous difference in terms of meaning and context, there are cultural associations evoked by shape and color that are common to all: red is passionate, blue is calming, yellow is playful. It is essential to keep these cultural perceptions at the forefront of your mind when considering an overall design. We often associate certain colors with particular industries and organizations, such as red for a stop sign or Red Cross event.
Usually circular shapes are more inclusive and cyclical, and thus popular, for many designs. On the other hand, using shapes like stars and hearts only lend themselves to particular industries, such as healthcare or education. Conversely, squares and rectangles may seem dull and predictable, whereas a check mark is dynamic.
Some brands, such as FedEx, successfully swap out color in their logos to designate different meanings to their services: for instance, green is for ground mail and orange is for air mail. In this sense, it is not just brand recognition FedEx achieves, but service recognition as well.
When considering a logo for a new business or redesigning your brand, consider how branding will contextualize your services and how shape will attract clients in your target audience.