What do logo shapes say about your brand?

Think about a household-name brand: Do you envision its website, its store, or its logo? There’s a good chance you’re seeing the latter, and your business can likewise create a logo that leaves this strong a mark. Color is one factor in doing so, but shapes are just as important. Learn why — and how to harness this effect — below.

The psychology of shapes in logo design

The psychology of logo shapes depends on many factors. Key points to know as you’re designing a logo with shapes include:

  • Roundness. Ovals and circles often appear gentle, grounding, or inviting in logos. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Starbucks logo. Its circular shape may partially explain why customers are drawn to Starbucks as a place to prop up makeshift workstations (of course, the coffee helps, too).
  • Sharpness. The sharp corners of squares, rectangles, and triangles can impart a sense of regality, stability, or professionalism. That’s why the American Express logo is square: Few finance brands are so immediately associated with a luxurious lifestyle. Triangular logos are less common, though if you look closely, you’ll see one centered in the Google Drive logo, one of the most popular and relied-upon suites of cloud-based business apps.
  • Natural occurrence. Some logos with geometric shapes don’t quite meet a neat definition of round or sharp — just like many naturally occurring objects. These objects are often the basis of logos that convey comfort, hope, or just that your brand is nature-oriented. Sometimes, they’re a small part of the logo rather than its foundational shape, as with the Tropicana logo, which replaces the dot in its “i” with a leaf.
  • Lines. Vertical line shapes in logo designs can suggest ascension or power. The best everyday example of a vertical logo shape might be Soundcloud, in which the vertical lines on the left at once represent soundwaves and a powerful listening experience. Horizontal lines may feel more concrete or mobile, as with the IBM logo. This logo’s lines suggest the sort of speed and motion fundamental to computer processing.
  • More significant meanings. Plenty of logo shapes’ meanings extend beyond their basic psychology. Pink ribbons, for example, have long signified breast cancer awareness, which is why the Susan G. Komen Foundation logo contains one.

You can harness the power of the psychology of logo shapes when creating your own logo in Namecheap’s free logo maker. With just a few clicks, you’ll be taken to a large icon library filled with inviting circular shapes, powerful lines, and the sharp authoritative nature of squares and triangles. Within minutes, you’ll have a logo of your own that represents your business’s best values. Feeling inspired? Get started now! Need some more ideas? Keep reading for some famous logos that utilize shapes effectively.

8 shapes with logo examples

Some common examples of logos, shapes, and their meanings include:

1. Circles

As explained earlier, round shapes are gentle and inviting, and circular logos hit these marks especially well. They can also represent completeness, perfection, and, when more than one circle is present, interconnectedness. 

The most oft-cited example of all these effects is the Olympics’ five interconnected rings. These circles are grounding and communal, and that’s intentional. People who watch the Olympics often do so to feel connected to their communities and celebrate ways to uplift global unity. Both these reasons for watching the Olympics tie back to groundedness and community.

Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash

2. Squares and rectangles

Squares and rectangles fall under the sharp category described above. In addition to the regal, professional feelings that sharp shapes impart, rectangles and squares are known to evoke stability. The concrete corners and edges of these shapes suggest a balance and endpoint missing from circles.

You can see this balance in the Microsoft logo. Its four squares (and the larger square containing them) represent how Microsoft’s numerous software platforms organize your work. Notably, this effect is somewhat different than how American Express uses its square logo. That’s because square and rectangular logo shape ideas resemble everyday objects, which bends neatly to your graphic design goals.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

3. Triangles

Triangle logo shapes also fall into the sharp category, though they’re considerably less common than square logos. That said, most triangle logos use isosceles triangles (those with two edges of equal length). The orientation of these shapes can alter their impact. 

A triangle with its base (the edge of unequal length) on the bottom imparts stability as a rectangle or square would. The Delta logo, which is the rare equilateral triangle logo, also includes an isosceles triangle to convey that its flights will go smoothly. The shape itself may serve as a double meaning, too: the Greek letter delta is the shape of a triangle.

A triangle with a titled base appears more dynamic. Interestingly, that’s the route another prominent airline took with its logo. Qantas, which is as prominent as Delta in its native Australia, has a logo that approximates a titled isosceles triangle. While the actual shape of the logo is that of an airplane’s rear wing, the resemblance to a tilted isosceles triangle can’t be denied. This logo attests to the dynamics and motion of flight.

Photo by Josh Withers on Unsplash

4. Spirals

Spirals combine roundness and natural occurrence for an enticing, assuaging effect. Ubisoft’s spiral logo, for example, draws gamers to the brand’s many immersive, transcendent gaming experiences. Jamba’s spiral has a similar effect for juice and smoothie lovers, though its tornado-like appearance at once appears natural and represents the swirling of blenders, which certainly aren’t natural.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

5. Curves

Curves are less shapes than they are logo elements. They’re parts of logos you might not think much about until someone points them out to you. For example, when you see the Disney logo, you primarily take in the company’s name, though a small part of you realizes the brand’s typeface is unusually curved. And Disney isn’t associated with childlike glee just because of its movies and series: Curved logo outlines and shapes are associated with joy and positivity.

Photo by Valentin GIRARD on Unsplash

6. Organic shapes

Organic shapes draw inspiration from nature. With organic shapes, the natural element isn’t a small part of the logo, but its foundation. Take the Gatorade logo as an example: Its big orange lightning bolt evokes the energizing electrolytes in the brand’s drinks.

When you draw upon these natural occurrences, you can harness their meanings in nature to help communicate your brand. Gatorade’s logo isn’t necessarily one of comfort or hope (the common associations of natural occurrence), but its lighting bolt is derived directly from the power of nature.

Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

7. Horizontal lines

As explained earlier, horizontal lines can represent groundedness and speed. AT&T, for example, takes advantage of this logo shape psychology to represent its efficiency. After all, nobody wants slow, unreliable phone service. 

Unlike the previous shapes on this list, horizontal lines are easy to overuse. More than a few in your logo can feel too speedy and dull the lines’ grounding effects. For best results, use horizontal lines sparingly in your logos, outlines, and shapes.

Photo by Lux Productions on Unsplash

8. Vertical lines

Last but certainly not least are vertical lines, which convey boldness, growth, and ambition. For example, the Cisco logo’s vertical lines suggest constant motion, which is appropriate for the cybersecurity brand and the way its products keep up with technological developments.

Photo by Anthony Tedja on Unsplash

Get creative with Namecheap’s free logo maker

All kinds of shapes can be found in logos, but not all business owners consciously think about how their shapes will make customers feel. However, with an understanding of what certain shapes are designed to mean and the subtle messages they send, you can harness the power of those associations to create a memorable, standout logo that perfectly represents your company. Try out some ideas in Namecheap’s free logo maker tool, and see where they take you: The perfect logo might result.


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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