It’s important to properly understand colour psychology before starting any design project. Choosing the right colours can send positive messages, encourage customer recognition, and even boost sales. Choosing the wrong colours can have the opposite effect.
In Colour psychology 101: Understanding the power of colour
, we explained how we’re affected by colour and the importance of understanding your audience – because the feelings evoked by colour can vary depending on where in the world you live.
But there is one exception to the rules of colour psychology, and that’s when a colour is related to a specific shape.
Just as there are three primary colours (red, yellow and blue), there are also three primary shapes – squares, triangles and circles. And each of these shapes have a direct emotional connection to a primary colour – a square is associated with red, a triangle is linked to yellow and a circle is connected to blue.
Red makes a statement. And red squares, or square-like shapes, amplify that statement. Think of a stop sign. Though it’s a hexagon, it is related to a square and it makes an obvious statement. Now think of a red carpet rolled out for a star-studded event. That elongated shape makes a bold declaration as people stroll along, but does it evoke the same feelings when it’s rolled up in the corner?
When you think of the colour red in logo and branding design, the most effective and long-lasting ones are square-like shapes. Think of the red box design of the Netflix logo and the LEGO logo.
Logos in blue tend to be round based. Think of GE, Wordpress, Volkswagon and even the NASA logo. They all evoke feelings of trust, depth and strength.
If red squares make a statement and blue circles are about strength and trust, then where do yellow triangles fit? The most obvious connection is found on your drive home. Yellow triangles are warning signs, which evoke feelings of caution. This is why yellow doesn’t translate well into the world of logo design – because few companies want their customers to be cautious.
Will you find these primary shapes in colours other than the ones they’re most readily associated with? Of course. But look around; some of the most effective logo/symbol designs are based on a variation on these three shapes with a variation on these three colours.