One of the fundamental elements of design is shape, and for good reason. A lot can be accomplished with the use of specific shapes. Whether harnessing an existing interpretation or playing with shapes to tell a different story, simple angles and curves can be used to your advantage. Here are a few examples of how:
- Shapes as symbols: Stop signs, arrows, checkmarks, X’s. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what these shapes signify. Our culture has developed many shapes into parts of our visual language. They tell us what actions to perform, where things are, the status of various processes. Shapes are a language people already understand. Use them to your advantage!
- Signature Shapes: Brands use shapes all the time as a way to efficiently signal their presence. To the right person, a recognizable shape acts as shorthand for your brand. A dark green circle to someone needing their morning pick-me-up, a pair of golden arches to someone needing a quick bite, and orange square to someone needing lumber for their next project. Shapes can’t necessarily make people want what you’re selling, but they can act as a signal for them when they do.
- Shapes to convey (e)motion: Beyond communicating directions or signaling a specific brand, shapes can be used to convey more abstract ideas, often subliminally. A square can be used to convey a sense of strength and solidity. A circle can be friendly and inviting. A sharply angled rhombus can signify speed and power. Irregular shapes and combinations of shapes can begin telling even more complex stories of motion and emotion.
Simple shapes can be powerful tools for communication if used deliberately. Think about what they say, what they mean to people, and what they could say in the right context.