The shape psychology of circles makes them a powerful element in design and it’s important to understand the meaning behind them.
Colour is a vital part of a brand’s identity – but just as important is shape. The silhouette of a design is often noticed before colour is registered. As such, understanding what shapes mean adds additional depth to a brand’s identity. This article looks at the shape psychology of circles. What do they mean and how can they be used within a brand’s visuals?
Like a vast magical portal, circles often hold mystical properties, their uniform, symmetrical nature promising connection, growth and even the allure of the infinite.
What Circles Represent
We see circles in many aspects of our lives – most commonly are wheels and rings which have their own associated meanings. It is little wonder that these shapes build on feelings of community and motion.
Circles are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used to represent the sun, the moon, or other celestial bodies, as well as more down-to-earth concepts such as a group or team. They can also be used to represent completeness or perfection, as well as representing cycles or ongoing movement.
The psychology of circles often builds on feelings 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.
Circular shapes evoke feelings of harmony, unity, and inclusivity in the mind because of their symmetry and lack of hard edges. The smooth, flowing nature of circles creates a sense of completeness that can be calming and reassuring. As such, they have silhouettes that create feelings of warmth and welcome – though often at the cost of structure and order.
Circles lend themselves well to industries that promise growth or a deeper connection. They are also representative of journeys as their shape builds feelings of a continuous cycle.
Who Should use Circles?
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.
Businesses with core values of inclusivity, community, or unity should consider using circles in their branding. They also lend themselves to a more creative and free-spirited mindset. As mentioned earlier, circles tend to give a warm and welcoming look, which can help businesses that need to connect with their clients on a deeper level.
The Wikipedia logo is a good example of the community aspect. The puzzle pieces building a sphere promote their unique method of community contribution to the online encyclopedia.
Circles are also frequently used in the health and wellness industries. These businesses demand a sense of wholeness and connection, and circles provide a fluid and welcoming feeling that attracts clients who are looking for a more holistic approach.
Circular shapes have many variations that can be used to create different feelings. Perfect circles are great for representing unity and inclusivity. Ovals perform a similar function, also creating a feeling of harmony and balance. Amending these slightly also gives access to other feelings. A spiral shape can be used to better show growth and progression, while a crescent shape changes the meaning almost entirely, giving an impression of change and transition. 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.
It is worth noting that circles are softer than most other shapes. Additionally, they can appear lacking in structure. Brands that want to appear creative or holistic get excellent use from them due to their fluidity.
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. A circle’s softness also makes it lack structure, making it less used in the construction industry.
Circles are also quite a common element of design. This can mean that they may not immediately attract attention. Businesses aiming to be authoritative should avoid circles as they may not attract the attention they require to stand out.
However, this can be overcome with the addition of colour and texture. Using these elements to add depth to your circles helps to create visual interest without losing their core meaning.
Conclusion – How does the Shape Psychology of Circles affect brands?
Circles make us think of inclusivity and community. They are welcoming shapes, fluid and warm. It is important to understand the shape psychology of circles, ovals, rings and other curved shapes if you plan on using them. Understanding what your clients see in them is crucial to your overall brand message. Although not as authoritative or structured as other shapes, they can still hold a visual appeal to clients who are looking for connection, unity and growth.
Like the endless cycle of the sun, you are showing that your brand is always moving forward. At best, you can give the impression that clients will be welcomed and included in your circle. This can be hugely appealing to certain clients and is a great selling point. If you’re planning on using circles and other circular shapes in your branding, be sure to explore the various variations and ways to add depth and meaning to your design
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