Logo Design: The Power of Colors, Font and Shapes

Learn about the psychology of colors, fonts, shapes, and composition in logo design and how to use it to create a logo that influences the customer on a psychological or subconscious level.
A logo is the most compelling brand symbol. This is because an image or one word can convey values that thousands of written words can only hope to get.
A brand logo and its associated colors increase brand awareness by 70%. That's why understanding the psychology behind successful logo design and how it affects customer behavior is vital.
With so many design options available, creating a logo that will positively influence your target audience and convey the right emotions and messages can seem overwhelming at first.
So, what exactly do you need to know when using psychology to create a logo? You need to learn how to use the psychology of color, font, shape, and composition when designing a logo. You also need to know how to influence brand awareness and buying behavior.
Specific colors can stimulate certain emotions and convey different concepts. This is called color psychology or color meaning. The colors you use in a logo will reflect your company, express its values and reinforce your brand identity.
You can make better design decisions if you understand the intricacies and influence of color on how people perceive your Logo and, therefore, your brand.
Researchers at the University of Missouri, for example, found that the specific colors used in a company's Logo have a significant impact on how people feel about that Logo and the brand as a whole.
According to the study:
  • Blue logos evoke feelings of confidence, success, and reliability.
  • Green logos evoke feelings of environmentalism, toughness, durability, masculinity, and sustainability.
  • Purple logos evoke feelings of femininity, glamor, and charm.
  • Pink logos evoke feelings of youth, imagination, and fashion.
  • Yellow logos evoke feelings of fun and modernity.
  • Red logos evoke feelings of competence and confidence.
Colors don't have to be bright to psychologically impact a person. Take black, for example, which conveys protection, power, elegance, and sophistication, or white, which represents purity, cleanliness, innocence, and perfection. Companies may also use gray to denote practicality, brown to denote reliability, or gold to denote luxury and elegance.

The psychology of logo shapes
Logo design also takes advantage of shapes to influence customers' thoughts and opinions, successfully conveying certain messages about a company. In fact, consumer research confirms that logo shapes can determine how consumers perceive your brand's beliefs, products, and services. Circles, squares, triangles, and vertical and horizontal lines, for example, carry different meanings that logo designers should understand and use when creating logos.
Many of the world's most recognizable brands, such as Starbucks, General Electric, and Pepsi, include circles in their logos. This is because of their ability to convey a variety of positive emotional messages and because their shape is softer and more welcoming than the sharp corners of triangles and squares.
In addition, circles are consistent and robust, with no kinks or twists, making them a symbol of strength and stability. Circles can help your company look more reliable when used in a logo. Because of their association with marriage and rings, processes are also associated with notions of unity and commitment, allowing them to form a stronger bond with the consumer.
One recognizable company with a circular logo shape is Target. The Logo uses two concentric red circles to form a «bull's eye» that reflects its name, making consumers more likely to recognize the brand at a glance. However, Target's bull's-eye-shaped Logo conveys another important concept of brand reliability to consumers. The message: whatever you're looking for, you'll find it — or hit the bullseye — at Target. 
Squares are another familiar shape used in logo design: companies like Home Depot, Microsoft, and American Express choose square logo elements. Squares can be used to convey feelings of power, strength, safety, and security. Since some of the world's most «secure» things, such as a safe, house, or vault, are rectangular or square, it's easy to see why people perceive squares in this way.
Because of their symmetrical, sturdy, and secure composition, squares are used to convey the values of proportion, balance, and professionalism. For example, the Logo of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which operates three strong and robust square shapes, inspires a sense of confidence and trust. The squares in the BBC logo also portray the news organization as a reliable, trustworthy source of information. 
Triangles can evoke various associations, including power, a sense of hierarchy, movement, or perfection when used as a logo shape. Three well-known brands that use triangular logos include Adidas, Mitsubishi Motors, and FILA. Because triangles push in a specific direction, they contain energy. They may not evoke the same sense of safety and familiarity as rectangles or squares, but they can help demonstrate your brand's ingenuity and innovation. 

Take, for example, the Logo of construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. The company logo has a triangular shape with strong, bold edges and conveys a sense of strength and masculinity. Its corners point upward, indicating a positive direction or movement.
The way lines are represented in a logo can affect the audience's perception of the brand. For example, vertical lines are compelling; they evoke a subconscious sense of power and elegance. Like squares and rectangles, they also convey professionalism and express the concept of movement.
One example of a company that uses vertical lines in its Logo is SoundCloud. The Logo conveys both power and imagination by combining vertical solid lines with the curves of a cloud. Technology company Cisco also uses vertical lines in its Logo to bring foresight, versatility, and boldness. 
Horizontal lines, on the other hand, create a sense of calm, stability, and serenity. When used in a logo design, they are very different from vertical lines and can encourage consumers to feel calm and confident.  
A great example is the IBM logo, where the horizontal lines soothe the senses, and the blue color in the Logo contributes to the overall idea of reliability and trustworthiness. Logistics company DHL also uses horizontal lines in its Logo to emphasize the speed and reliability of its services.
The psychology of logo fonts
Some logos also include text in their symbol or consist entirely of text. The fonts used in such logos are not random and are not chosen because they look appealing. On the contrary, the fonts used in logo design should reflect the brand values and, at the same time, instantly convey the intended message of the company.
People have certain thoughts and emotions that they associate with specific colors, and the same can be said for the psychology of typefaces. Serif fonts convey a sense of heritage and respectability, which is why brands like VOGUE and Rolex use them in their logos. Serif fonts are clean and welcoming, and these values are conveyed in the logos of Google, Netflix, and Microsoft. 
The font can convey the elegance of handwriting. That's why the font is perfect for the Logo of Hallmark, a company that makes greeting cards. Finally, modern fonts can be bold and energetic, making them the best choice for brands like Disney, SEGA, and Baskin-Robbins.
The Psychology of Composition
Shapes, lines, and colors are the foundation of effective logo design. However, the way these components are assembled also affects the perception of the Logo and the message it conveys to consumers.
For example, a scattered or uneven arrangement of elements conveys playfulness, disorder, or unruly. In contrast, orderly and symmetrical designs convey formality, stability, and submission. 
Overlapping elements create visual connections. Therefore, logo designers should pay attention to how shapes and lines combine. In addition, the size of components in a logo design indicates priority. The larger the component, the more attention it attracts and the more meaningful it seems.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) logo is an excellent example of effective composition. The word NASA stands out in the center of the design in large white letters. Its circular shape represents the planet, the stars represent space, the red v-wing represents aeronautics, and the circular orbit around the agency's name represents space travel. 
Each of these elements is perfectly centered, creating harmony and balance, but it is NASA that stands out the most because of its large size. The contrasting red V-shaped color emphasizes what the brand is best known for — aeronautics — and the circular orbit crosses the brand name, drawing attention to the letters «A» and «S,» further emphasizing «aeronautics» and «space.»
The influence of logo design on consumer behavior
As we discussed in the previous section, all aspects of logo design, including colors, fonts, and shapes, can symbolize ideas and express a consumer's mood. While it's obvious that a logo influences the consumer, let's take a closer look at how and why this happens.
Understand how a logo affects the consumer by familiarizing yourself with three psychological concepts: symbolism, differentiation, and priming.
Logos use strategic symbols to convey a direct message. Symbols are often present in our collective consciousness. For example, the heart symbol, which we intuitively understand as a symbol of love and relationships. In addition, arrows represent movement and direction, and stars can signify religion, patriotism, or glory.
These abstract symbols are simplified forms that express a basic concept. Symbols are often used as a visual language because they have clear, universal meanings that transcend cultural and linguistic barriers. Regardless of whether they appear in the form of images or text, symbols have a profound psychological impact on consumers. 
Product differentiation refers to marketing efforts that cause consumers to distinguish one brand from another. It occurs when a consumer associates an emotional feeling with a brand that differentiates it from others. 
Ultimately, the Logo differentiates a brand from its competitors in order to give emotional value to that brand over others.
Certain words, images, and even sounds can «tune» the brain to expect certain things. This is how a logo design evokes a particular thought or action. When you see a familiar logo, your brain automatically associates it with past studies, feelings, and experiences related to that brand. This can influence people to make a decision to not only choose the brand once but to become loyal to it. 

A study done with the Apple logo further proves this. Researchers showed people the Apple logo they could see too quickly and then gave them a creative test. These participants did better on the test than those who were shown the IBM logo, a logo not normally associated with creativity.
At the time of the test, Apple had recently completed a successful campaign featuring dozens of creative individuals and the slogan «Think Different.» The Apple brand has become associated with the concept of creativity, in part because of this marketing. When test subjects were shown this logo design, they were motivated to think more creatively.
Logos influence purchasing decisions
While some may argue that price is the only element that influences these decisions, this is usually not the case. Emotional factors, including familiarity, brand loyalty, self-identity, social identity, and status, are other key players in purchase decisions. 
Consumers often use emotions, especially personal feelings and experiences, to evaluate brands rather than relying solely on information such as product qualities, features, or benefits. This is because consumers highlight the same personality traits in brands as they do in other people.
Thus, brand personality should accurately explain who they are and what they represent to potential customers. Your Logo should summarize the brand's message and nature so that people can understand at a glance what you are about. That's why logo creation is one of the most important components of your brand identity and why you should take a thoughtful, professional approach to logo design.
Psychology is the key to a successful logo
The success of any logo is ultimately determined not only by the quality of its design but also by how people interpret it. In order to influence customers on a psychological or subconscious level, a logo must be relevant, meaningful, and aimed at the appropriate audience. By understanding the psychology of color, font, shape, and composition in logo design, you can create a branded logo that tells a story about your company.