Logos are often the first thing customers notice about a brand. It can convey a simplistic, modern feel. Or it can show off a brand’s care for the environment. Each brand needs a distinct, effective logo — and you can save a lot of rebranding headaches by picking the right one from the start.
Logo psychology, or how a logo’s appearance influences a customer, acts as the foundation of building a strong brand symbol. These principles guide logo design, which involves the creation of logos using best practices and principles.
By picking the most impactful shape, color, and font, you can set your branding up for success.
Table of contents:
- Shape Psychology in Logo Design
- Best Shapes for Logos
- Color Psychology in Logo Design
- Font Psychology in Logo Design
Shape Psychology in Logo Design
Multiple studies demonstrate that people have different reactions to certain shapes. One study found that customers who value competence prefer angular shapes. Another shows that round shapes evoke feelings of happiness. Picking one shape over another can change how people perceive your brand.
Consider the difference between two triangles, one up and one down. The upward-pointing one conveys stability. On the flip side, the downward-facing one projects risk and innovation. Either one works as a logo shape. But the desired reaction depends on what you want your business to convey.
Best Shapes for Logos
Companies use three types of logo shapes: geometric, organic, and abstract. Many companies feature circles, one of the most popular shapes, in their logos. However, this does not necessarily make it the best shape for a logo.
When looking through different shape options and ideas, put your business first. Ask yourself the following questions as a starting point:
- What will my target audience resonate with?
- What does my company represent?
- What kinds of logos do my competitors use?
Circles and Ovals
Circles and ovals stand out from other geometric shapes because of their roundness. They convey feelings of wholeness, motion, timelessness, and security. Circles also have feminine associations due to the softness of the shape. The shape can bring up feelings of community, love, and harmony.
Google Chrome combines three colors to form their iconic circular logo. Given the privacy and data concerns around browsers, their logo shape conveys security and reliability needed in a browser.
Squares and Rectangles
On account of their 90-degree angles, squares and rectangles convey stability, reliability, and symmetry. The shape’s sharp edges help build a logo that projects dependability and solidity.
Domino’s Pizza logo features two squares that form a domino. Consumers expect big pizza chains to deliver fast and consistently, so their logos convey the message of consistency.
When looking at logos, you’ll find very few triangles. A triangular logo can help your brand stand out in a sea of circles and squares. Consumers associate triangles with stability, inventiveness, and creativity.
Airbnb uses an upward-facing triangle with rounded edges as its logo, helping them communicate their mission to make traveling unique, immersive, and creative.
Vertical and Horizontal Lines
Vertical and horizontal lines play with how consumers view your logo. Vertical lines make a logo look taller and more narrow, projecting feelings of strength, advancement, and leadership.
Horizontal lines make a logo look wider while conveying tranquility, efficiency, and community.
IBM uses a simple, font-oriented logo with horizontal gaps. Since IBM sells hardware and software that help businesses be more efficient, the horizontal lines on their logo complements that mission.
Some brands ditch traditional shapes for more organic ones, such as trees, mountains, or animals. You can convey different meanings depending on the shape. For example, a tree projects environmentalism and growth, while a mountain conveys adventure and opportunity.
Jaguar uses an aptly designed logo with a leaping jaguar, which ties back to their powerful cars. Their logo brings up feelings of power, drive, and adventure seeking.
Other companies mark themselves with more abstract logos, such as drawings or a combination of different shapes. An abstract logo can convey anything the company wants, but by standing out, it projects modernity, originality, and distinctiveness.
Starbucks’ iconic green-and-white logo features a twin-tailed mermaid, a nod to their nautical-inspired name and origin city of Seattle.
Color Psychology in Logo Design
Research into color psychology shows people have emotional and psychological reactions when viewing colors. Red evokes feelings of hunger, while cyan blue keeps people awake. The color you choose for your logo matters just as much as its overall design. It can help you stand out, make customers trust you, and more.
Each color has different positive and negative psychological and emotional associations:
Blue: security, strength, wisdom, and trust; coldness and unfriendliness
Purple: wisdom, wealth, and sophistication; decadence, moodiness, and excessiveness
Orange: confidence, creativity, courage, and warmth; frustration, deprivation, and sluggishness
Red: excitement, energy, power, fearlessness, and passion; anger, warnings, danger, defiance, aggression, and pain
Green: relaxation, health, prosperity, hope, and freshness; boredom, stagnation, and blandness
Yellow: optimism, creativity, extroversion, youthfulness, and warmth; fear, irrationality, and anxiety
Black: sophistication, power, and elegance; oppression and coldness
White: purity, innocence, simplicity, and modernity; plain, boring, and empty
Pink: femininity, youthfulness, and imagination; childishness and rebellion
You can see how some of the biggest brands in the world align with each color’s association. Many fast-food companies, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Arby’s, flash hunger-triggering red on their logos and branding. A plethora of fashion brands, including Chanel and Gucci, use sleek-looking black.
When deciding on the best color for your logo, consider the following questions:
- What do my competitors use? Do I want to stand out or blend in?
- What kind of feelings do I want customers to associate with my brand?
- Do the positive associations with a color outweigh the negative?
Font Psychology in Logo Design
Similar to shape and color psychology, font psychology revolves around how people react emotionally and psychologically to the type of text used. Your brain looks at the font, attaches it to an emotion or feeling, and then associates it with the brand.
You can choose from millions of fonts, all of which fall into different categories, including the following:
Short vs. tall: sturdiness and security vs. elegance and luxury
Condensed vs. spacious: tightness and closeness vs. openness and relaxation
Lowercase vs. uppercase: empathy and innovation vs. strength and mightiness
Italicized vs. straight: movement and efficiency vs. rigidity and structure
Light vs. bold: thinness and beauty vs. masculinity and strength
Round vs. angular: comfort and softness vs. formality and stiffness
Simple vs. complex: straightforwardness and simplicity vs. uniqueness and individuality
Serif vs. sans serif: elegance and formality vs. cleanliness and simplicity
Many businesses use fonts to convey the mission of their brand. The maker of crayons and art tools, Crayola, features a short, rounded font, adding softness and comfort to their branding targeted at children. The New York Times features a bold, serif typeface, projecting the strength and formality expected of the publication.
Choosing a font follows a similar process as selecting a color or shape. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What fonts do competitors use?
- Can my audience read the font easily?
- Which font association (e.g., strength, beauty, etc.) matters most to the business?