Colour tends to be the first thing that people notice about logos, but shapes are just as important. In this series, we’ll look at common shapes used in design and what they mean. This article looks at round shapes, specifically circles, ovals and rings.
Circles are used in day-to-day life for a variety of reasons. When people think of circular objects, commonly the first few things that come up are wheels and rings. Logos that use circles make us think of;
Rounded shapes tend to lean towards feelings of community and the more social aspects of life – hence ‘circle of friends’ or ‘social circle’. Circles can also be used to create feelings of protection and perfection by appearing bubble-like and without harsh edges. Rings are used to convey love and relationships as they are a visual reminder of wedding and engagement rings.
Who Should use Round Shapes?
As circles show a primarily social aspect, they should be used by brands who wish to convey a sense of community. They naturally communicate positive emotions, so brands should also consider if their identity is mainly positive. With positive feelings being so closely associated with circles, it is important for brands to convey their message in a positive manner. A good example of the community aspect is the Wikipedia logo. The puzzle pieces building a sphere promotes their unique method of community contribution to the online encyclopedia.
Circles, ovals and rings have a variety of options that hold different meanings. Perfect circles are great to represent perfection and protection. Ovals, with their egg-like appearance, can be used to convey rebirth, fertility and even immortality. Health products commonly use ovals due to this. Rings are more frequently used to show love and community.
The Olympics logo is an excellent example of using rings. It is made up of five intersecting rings – each one representing a continent, which shows the world coming together as a community. With the addition of a variety of colours it promotes community and diversity.
What are the Limitations?
Circles and curves often promote movement and flow, so they tend to be unsuitable for brands and industries that are more corporate. Femininity is also commonly associated with curves, so using them within a product aimed at a male market can have a negative effect. It is important to remember this when using these shapes and take steps to mitigate these limitations.
It is important to understand the limitations of circles, ovals, rings and other curved shapes if you plan on using them. They are a common aspect in design and used incorrectly can send a confusing brand message, but if done well create a strong visual identity.
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