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Brand Shapes

The overall shape of a logo becomes a recognizable identifier for a brand.

What type of brand is a circle? A square? A triangle? An egg shape? Shape, like color, makes an immediate impact. Like word marks that are recognized before they are read, the overall shape of a logo becomes a recognizable identifier for a brand.

Logo Shapes

An assemblage of different shapes often comprises a graphic identity. At the same time, graphic identities form a single shape once assembled. A logo’s internal shapes largely define it, since other aspects such as color may change over time or in different contexts. Which shapes are selected and how their interplay unfolds can become memorable components of a graphic identity: Are they contained or freeform? Complex or simple? Thick or thin? Symmetrical or asymmetrical? Singular or multiple?

Many logos strive for a sense of balance or simplicity by employing a circle or square as their primary external shape.

Logo Shapes
Is there a recognizable shape that people will remember about your graphic identity?

Shape Patterns

It can be very effective to borrow shapes from a graphic identity to create program elements.

Shapes that echo the logo (squares for a squareish logo, circles for a circular logo, etc.) can be used to create pattern or texture. These elements not only are useful in making the look of the program more cohesive, but they also can help make the graphic identity more meaningful and memorable.

Shape Patterns
Dominant shapes in the logo can create a visual motif for program elements.

More information is conveyed as program designers translate a graphic identity into physical spaces, allowing for layers of meaning to enrich the identity program. Consistent use of these shape elements will remind the viewer of the logo without being redundant.

Shape and Meaning

Identity programs can reinforce brand identities by echoing or suggesting brand promises. Simple treatments might suggest ease of product use. Patterns might suggest energy associated with customer service. Audiences see big and bold treatments as accessible, while small and understated graphics might suggest exclusivity. Shapes can also be used to illustrate a product or service, either literally or figuratively. Shapes can build on each other to tell a brand story and enhance the meaning of a brand identity.

Shape and Meaning
The "GO" logo references two primary shapes—a circle and an arrow—to convey a sense of the product in use (a golf ball being driven forward) on packaging and the product itself.

Originally published in Brand Identity Essentials.
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