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The psychology of logo shapes and colours

The power of a logo to evoke an emotional response can have a substantial effect on the way your potential customers view a particular brand, company or service. A powerful logo may look simple and easy but there is nothing simple about creating and effective logo.

Yes the most well known logos may look like they have just been picked by chance, but they haven’t. An extensive process of planning and creating has taken place to ensure the optimum effectiveness from the logo.

It may sound ridiculous and almost like the brands are trying to brain wash us (they’re not) with the fact that that certain shapes and colours have a psychological effect on us. Our subconscious minds respond in different ways to logo shapes. Different styles, shapes and colours all can simply imply different meanings to different people. For example- The Nike swoosh can be interpreted as movement and power by using curves and finishing with a sharp point.

Particular logo shapes send out particular messages, such as:

Circles ovals and ellipses tend to be seen as positive and emotional messages. Using a circle has connotations of unity, friendship, relationships. Rings have the connotation of partnership suggesting both stability and endurance. Curves can be seen as movement or feminine.

Straight edged logos such as squares and triangles suggest stability and balance. They offer a precise logo, creating a greater impact through their connotations of stability, power etc. Designed with the wrong colours e.g. cold and harsh colours the logo can look very uninviting and not portray the company as hoped to.

Using more dynamic colours can prevent this issue and create a statement that is effective for your potential audience.

Triangles have the association with power, science, religion and law. These are view as male attributes so it’s no surprise that triangle logos appear slightly more in companies with a male target customer.

Vertical lines are something our subconscious associates with masculinity and strength where as horizontal lines are associated with calm and tranquility.

Typefaces are another thing our subconscious is prejudice about. If a typeface has curved, soft and rounded edges it gives a more youthful tone where as the opposite shows a harsh and dynamic tone to the typeface.

Before you begin the logo designing process for your client, we suggest writing down a list of attributes and values that your clients business wants to portray. Establish the direction that your client wants to go in and whom their target customers are. Whether it’s young, old, classic, contemporary, commercial, domestic, all of these values should be considered so you can design an effective logo or typeface for your client.

Once the values and direction that your client wants to head in has been established you can then begin the design process, this won’t be a quick process (unless you have the easiest clients in the world). There will be design work, changes, more design work, the colour may not be right, the client may not like any of your designs, the designer may not like any of their designs, the list goes on. It’s all about understanding and knowing your client- this will make your process a lot easier.

These 5 design tips are what we think will help the process:

  1. Logo 101- A Logo must be simple, memorable, enduring. versatile and appropriate
  2. Do your online research
  3. Establish a design process- e.g. design brief, research, design, reflect, present
  4. Learn from others and avoid clichés- research into why and how logos in your clients field have been successful, don’t overcomplicate things and don’t go for the cliché, make it unique.

Have a look at our portfolio to check out some of the branding we have completed for some of our existing clients over the years!

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