December 11, 2012 | by Liam

The Psychology of Shapes and Symbols in Graphic Design

Shapes and symbols have subliminal effects and are used with great effect by designers to ensure that the right message is portrayed. Shapes, boxes and borders are used in design to draw the eye, to add value to design and content, and to partition elements and enhance flow.


This blog post will highlight moods that are associated with different forms:


Circular shapes – Curved shapes are perceived as feminine and evoke such feelings as tenderness, warmth, love, friendship, care, support, protection, affection, comfort, compassion


Squares & Rectangles – psychological emotions that are conveyed by these shapes are reliability, familiarity, strength, stability, power, balance and dependability. Hence the expression ‘think outside the box’ meaning to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective.


Triangles – triangles are perceived as masculine and are seen to refer to energy, power, balance, law, science and religion.


Vertical shapes & lines – these shapes and lines convey masculinity, strength, power, aggression, courage, brutality and dominance.


Horizontal lines – these convey femininity, tranquility, calm, rest, peace, weakness, silence and stillness.


By paying attention to the psychology portrayed by certain shapes designers can use this knowledge to develop lasting logos, websites, brands and marketing materials that have more meaning to the consumer.


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