The Meaning of Forms in Design

When designing, the visual components are essential for the public to have an accurate perception of what we want to show them. People do not usually realise it, but we react differently to visual objects, affecting even our emotions and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to know the meaning of each of the forms we use in our designs.

Thus, we will position them with knowledge of the cause and looking for the desired effect. In addition, we will see how these meanings have been used in some well-known logos.

As we have spoken on other occasions, the psychology of colour is one of the essential aspects, and having a suitable colour palette says a lot about the meaning of our designs. By understanding the role of the psychology of colour and form, as designers, we can control the meaning of a logo. Each carefully chosen component helps people read the meaning of the correct logo.

Basic Types of Forms

We can gather forms into three basic groups:

  • Geometric forms – they are the first ones that come to mind when we think of shapes. Circles, squares, rectangles, hexagons … are formed by regular patterns and are easily recognizable. They give us an idea of order and efficiency.
  • Organic forms – they are mostly irregular with free and asymmetric shapes. They give us a more comforting feeling, since they tend to be forms that we find in nature, such as leaves, flowers or rocks. Although at this point, we would also enter, for example, man-made forms, such as inkblots.
  • Abstract forms – they are recognizable forms, but they are not real. They tend to be more stylized or simplifications of organic forms. They can also represent ideas or feelings, such as emojis.


Once we have done this first organization, we will focus on the different geometric shapes and their use in graphic design. And specifically, how they have been used to create logos.

We do not want to forget that these logos do not completely base their meaning on their geometric form. It is important to make use of other composition tools that we have at our disposal. Recently we gave you as an example the rule of thirds and its use in design. It is interesting to have all these references in mind and mix them effectively when designing.

The Forms and Their Meanings

At this point, we will make a list with some of the essential geometric shapes and the meaning and image that each one of them gives us, accompanied by examples of recognizable logos that make good use of their principles.


The circles give an aspect of fullness, something finished. Possibly, it is the most used form in logos, either as the form of the logo itself or closing it. They can also represent the constant movement. In this category you must also include other types of circular shapes, such as ellipses.


Squares / Rectangles

The squares give us an idea of stability. That cannot be moved easily. In addition, they are robust and safe, although if they are not used correctly, they can give a boring image. For this reason, they are often filled with a colour or a combination of colours, or other elements, such as letters or texts.



If you work with triangles, a very important aspect is to decide in which direction you will be pointing them. The triangles, as happens with the arrows, tell us different things according to where they point. For example, the right means progress, while the left is a kind of return to the past. Although, we must also take into account to what public we are going to address, since these addresses have this meaning in Western countries. That’s why you have to think according to the country when designing.


Pentagons / Hexagons / Octagons

Although we have cited these three geometric figures, we do so because they are polygons with more than four common sides. Of this list, they are surely the forms with more diverse uses. They can be used to give an aspect of depth to a two-dimensional image or to create a composition of shapes by means of small pieces.



The spirals have a very powerful format when we use them to design. And that is why we must be careful when we choose them. They give an image of being complex, so they tend to focus attention if the rest of the composition gives a calmer look. But if we use them alone, it is a very powerful form, with a lot of dynamism and intensity.


Curved shapes

The curved shapes are associated with movement, pleasure and generosity. They add an unexpected point to the forms. These shapes can be added to other shapes, such as squares, to give them a more relaxed look. They give a touch of softness.



The use of forms can be an interesting way to add a meaning or create a new visual interest in our design projects. As with any other type of effect, you have to take into account not using too many forms at the same time.

Most professional projects use forms in such a way that we are not even aware that they are being used. This is how it should be, keep it simple. If we play with forms, it is preferable to follow the trick of using variations of the form instead of using different types of shapes.

Comments (1)

  1. Liked the explanations. Very easily understood with the examples. I was looking forward to reading the explanations of the organic and abstract forms, but you didn’t cover this. Would love to read your explanation on these two forms with regard to logos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *