Shape Psychology in Graphic Design

Vladislav Gavriluk

Vladislav Gavriluk

CEO & Founder at Arounda

The connection between visual elements and human psychology is a crucial yet often overlooked factor affecting our perceptions and emotions. Explore shapes in psychology to better understand this concept.

At Arounda, we value the practical significance of shapes in design while working on our clients’ projects. Our experience has revealed that using shapes thoughtfully enhances customer engagement and effectively sets the desired tone.

Join us in discovering the fundamental concept of shapes’ role in graphic design. Examine various use cases and learn how to make shapes suitable and impactful.

Table of Contents

Shape Psychology in Design

Shapes are essential for designers to tell stories, evoke emotions, and influence how users see things. For a deeper understanding of what is shape in graphic design, delve into their various types and the profound meanings they bring.

Squares and Rectangles

Squares and rectangles are fundamental design elements. They are prevalent in man-made environments. These shapes communicate dependability and a sense of safety. Their precise, straight lines and angles represent structure and order. 

Squares create an impression of containment and assurance akin to a warm and reassuring embrace. They are a steadfast canvas for conveying messages and building a brand identity. But their overuse may result in monotony.

Much like squares, rectangles exude a sense of trustworthiness and security. Moreover, they bring an extra dimension of equilibrium and symmetry. This shape is also an excellent choice for conveying professionalism and establishing trust. Additionally, rectangles have the power to bring authority, resembling architectural designs and corporate branding.


Triangles convey different emotions depending on their positioning. They often remind us of energy and dynamism. Therefore, you can use this shape to represent motion and direction. Note that triangle points determine its meaning. Pointing up symbolizes stability and balance. In contrast, pointing down suggests risk and instability.

This shape naturally guides the viewer's eye toward the top. With that in mind, slim triangles are excellent for highlighting essential design elements. Also, when triangles point left or right, they represent movement (forward or back), like the iconic “play” button for videos.


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Circles, Ovals, and Ellipses

Circles often represent eternity, symbolizing the endless cycles of life and the universe. With their lack of sharp angles, circles have a soft, inviting look, setting them apart from other shapes. Thanks to their inherent sense of wholeness and completion, circles are usual for graphic design elements like logos, outlines, and small web icons.

Also, consider ovals and ellipses as variations of circles. They maintain the same inviting quality while introducing an elongated, stretched aspect. Like circles, these shapes convey unity and a sense of protection. At the same time, ovals and ellipses are welcoming, drawing viewers into their complete forms.

Pentagons, Hexagons, and Octagons

Polygons are less standard shapes for graphic design. However, due to their intricacy, they have a unique role in the visual world. These shapes often symbolize everyday objects, serving as icons or logos.

The geometric features of polygons make them handy when creating design puzzles. With their help, you can build complete compositions and organize information. This shape is notably prevalent in infographic design. That’s because polygons are fundamental in visually simplifying complex concepts.

Abstract Shapes

Abstract shapes are a versatile and engaging aspect of graphic design. They often serve as visual symbols for abstract concepts or simple representations of natural forms. When working with abstract shapes, remember that individual elements may have specific symbolism. However, it takes on a new, conceptual context.

These shapes can be highly stylized and need careful interpretation. They have a dual purpose, conveying both direct and symbolic meanings. So, graphic designers frequently use them, especially when creating logos and icons.


The unique form of spirals often symbolizes the cycles of life, growth, and transformation. This shape is a versatile and meaningful design element. 

In nature, you can find spirals in seashells and unfurling flower petals. These objects inspire designs reflecting life's beauty and intricacy. Spirals represent growth and the ongoing life cycle. They signify our continuous learning, evolution, and progress.  

Spirals bring elegance and complexity to designs, giving them a modern and innovative touch. They are valuable for projects that promote forward-thinking or creative ideals. With their help, designers add depth and meaning to their work.

Natural Shapes Meaning

Natural shapes are inspired by the beauty and diversity of plants and animals. They often carry specific and easily understandable meanings. For example, a rose symbolizes love and passion, while a lion represents pride and bravery.

Natural shapes create a strong bond with the natural world. They are suitable for outdoor, eco, and nature-focused design projects. These shapes let designers integrate elements of the environment into their work seamlessly. It establishes a profound connection between the audience and the natural world.

Symbols and Icons

These design elements may serve as quick visual guides for complex ideas or objects. They transform those concepts into easily recognizable forms. Symbols and icons carry a deeper meaning, representing the broader significance of physical objects.

In infographic design, symbols and icons reduce the need for text, drawing attention to the essentials. They communicate information efficiently and simply.

However, remember to use symbols and icons wisely. They can create visual clutter and clarity. Finding the right balance is crucial to ensure these elements enhance the design without overshadowing the intended message.


The influence of shape psychology in design on users is profound, often operating beneath their conscious awareness. Use this powerful tool to communicate your intended ideas to your audience effectively. Shapes set the mood, inspire action, and streamline information.

At Arounda, we have rich experience working with various shapes in UI/UX and graphic design. Our specialists choose the most appropriate options to convey unique concepts. 

Whether you're seeking to improve your icon, web design, or marketing materials, our proficiency in shape integration can bring your creative vision to life. Reach out to us and start transforming your design today.

Vladislav Gavriluk
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the shape psychology in graphic design?

    The shape psychology definition begins with the notion that each shape holds a unique meaning, affecting our thoughts and reactions. Shape psychology in graphic design involves using various shapes to elicit viewers' emotional and psychological responses. Designers use shapes' inherent characteristics and associations to convey messages, establish brand identities, and create visually engaging compositions.Shapes play a fundamental role in the design. They influence how audiences interpret and engage with visual content. Understanding shape psychology empowers designers to make intentional shape choices that resonate with their target audience.

  • How to use shape psychology in design?

    Consider the following tips to make the most of shapes in your designs. When choosing shapes, match them to the tone of your message. For example, if you're designing a logo for a security company, use squares or circles to convey stability and trust. Consider the context behind your design. The shape’s meaning changes depending on its background. To create visual interest in your design, experiment with combining different shapes. They will guide viewers and highlight key elements.Remember that color can significantly impact the shapes’ emotional associations. For instance, a blue circle evokes feelings of safety and protection. Meanwhile, a red circle conveys urgency and action. Consider using color wheel combinations to reinforce the desired emotions.Simplicity is a fundamental design principle. Avoid overloading your design with too many shapes or making it overly complex. A clean and uncluttered design has a more powerful impact and resonates more effectively with your customers.

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