The Psychology of Shapes in Design
17 February 2021
By: Seyha Chan
Generally, different people will view the meanings of shapes differently and each shape attributes different emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. Shapes are the main design elements that also send the right message about your brand and keep your visual marketing strategy consistent. Through the psychology of shapes, a graphic designer can understand the characteristics and the meaning of using any kind of shape in graphic design in order to convey different feelings to audiences. In addition to that, there are three basic types of shapes, which are geometric shapes, organic shapes, and abstract shapes. Thus, it is important to understand the hidden meaning of shapes so that you can choose the best shape for your design.
1. Geometrical Shapes: Circles
Circle shapes are one of geometric shapes that do not have angles. In graphic design, the circle is the most popular and powerful one as they represent completion, wholeness, harmony, eternity, universe, mystery, earth, moon, and sun. Moreover, circles have different uses depending on their purpose. For instance, we can see circle shapes in logo design as for the logo background or outline, and in web design, circle shapes are used for small icons.
2. Geometrical Shapes: Squares and Rectangles
Square shapes are associated with straight lines and right angles that give audiences a sense of seriousness, rationality, security, and reliability. With these attributions, people would feel safe and contained. We commonly see squares in everyday life such as street signs, shop signs, or sheets of paper. In addition, these types of shapes are used in design layouts such as social media posts or business cards.
3. Geometrical Shapes: Triangles
Another geometric shape that has three edges and three vertices is the triangle shape. In design, triangle shapes are used to represent motion and direction. Additionally, the different position of the triangle gives different meanings. When the triangle is pointing up, it defines as energy, growth, balance, stability, and power. Also, when it is pointing down, it represents instability, risk, danger, and uncertainty.
4. Geometrical Shapes: Spirals
Spiral shapes simply use to represent the circle of life and growth. Spirals in graphic design have the most powerful effect as it relates to creativity, calmness, intelligence, and freshness.
5. Geometrical Shapes: Pentagons, Hexagons, and Octagons
Pentagons, hexagons, and octagons are known as polygon shapes in graphic design. These types of shapes are not commonly used because of their complexity, but we can see polygon shapes in real elements from our daily lives in form of icons or logos. For instance, street signs, the section of a beehive, or bolts. In addition, these polygons are very common in infographic design.
6. Natural or Organic Shapes
Natural shapes relate to originality, nature, ecology, organic, and refreshment. We normally see this shape in the real-world such as animals, flowers, trees, or leaves. Natural shapes set a clear meaning from the natural elements they represent. Specifically, these kinds of shapes make the viewers feel connected with the natural environment. In design, natural shapes are often used in outdoor or ecological design composition.
7. Abstract Shapes
Abstract shapes in graphic design refer to visual symbols or icons, which carry different meanings. These kinds of shapes are very common in logo design as it creates a unique idea through design. More importantly, the graphic designer uses abstract shapes to emphasize an idea in visual or infographics as it relates to authenticity, the duality of meaning, and detail.