Although colour tends to be the first thing that people notice about logos, shapes are just as important. In this series, we’ll look at common shapes used in design and what they mean. The first article looks at four sided shapes – squares and rectangles.
Squares and Rectangles
We see four sided shapes in all aspects of our lives – buildings, books, computer screens. It is little wonder that these shapes have cemented themselves in our minds as purveyors of order and stability. Logos that use squares make us think of;
Four sided shapes invoke feelings of balance and stability in the mind because of their symmetry. The feelings of trust and order lend themselves well to corporate fields, though this has changed the meaning of the shape somewhat to also include professionalism and efficiency.
Who Should use Four Sided Shapes?
Due to their stable nature, a business with core values like stability and trust should consider using squares and rectangles. They also lend themselves to a conservative mindset. As mentioned previously, they tend to give a professional look which can help businesses who need clients to trust them. Square logos often use the colour blue to double down on the trust aspect, like in the American Express logo.
Four sided shapes have many variations that can be used in a variety of ways. Perfect squares are great to represent trust and stability. Rectangles perform a similar function, also creating a feeling of uniformity. Amending them slightly also gives access to other feelings. A trapezium shape can be used to better show growth and stability, while a rhombus changes the meaning almost entirely, giving an impression of speed.
What are the Limitations?
Four sided shapes – especially squares – can be overlooked. As they are used so frequently, they do not tend to attract attention. This can harm some businesses, especially those that are more creative or exciting. If they are tilted too much, they also lose their stability aspect, though they do become more attention grabbing. It is important to remember this when using these shapes and take steps to mitigate these limitations.
One way to achieve this is through use of colour. This can help negate the dull and unimaginative aspects of the square shapes. The Microsoft logo uses different coloured squares to achieve this.
Using the four colours in the logo, it becomes more attention grabbing, without losing the benefits of using squares. It also speaks of the deeper brand, alluding to the Windows system by using an abstract window format. The logo shows stability, trust and order, whilst giving an impression of diversity through use of colour.
If you’re planning on using squares, rectangles and other four sided shapes, it is important to understand their limitations. You may not be as attention grabbing as other brands, but if trust and stability are your core principles, this may not be a bad trade off.
If you are looking for more information regarding brand identity, contact us here.