The Meaning of Shapes and How to Use Them Creatively in Your Design

The shapes of objects in your design may be sending a message to your potential customer that you aren’t even aware of. Whether you put an image inside a square or circle or triangle can have an impact on what people think about that image.

Sometimes a shape is more than just a group of connected lines. The use of shapes can be obvious or subtle and appear within images or as elements in a design. Shapes have an endless variety of characteristics, each communicating different messages to your audience.

Geometric shapes are the basics that you learn about in elementary school. This style of shape is made with connecting lines and has recognizable geometry. Squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, and crosses are geometric shapes. This type of shape often has symmetry and has a structured look and feel to it. (We will go more in-depth about each of the most common geometric shapes below.)

Organic shapes are those that often represent things found in nature. These shapes are more free-flowing and less symmetrical. Organic shapes often represent things such as leaves, rocks, clouds, and even elements such as an inkblot. This type of shape has an innate harmony and can add visual interest.

Abstract shapes are super-simple versions of common elements or forms. Abstract shapes are often based on organic shapes but lack true definition. The most common form of an abstract shape is an icon using an outline element.

Squares and rectangles are the default shape for most projects for a reason. This common shape creates a sense of equality and conformity. The familiar shape is seen as stable and trusting. The square further relates to the earth, with each of the four corners relating to the four points on a compass.

Squares are the least common use of this four-sided shape. (Squares have four equal sides.) Rectangles, both with horizontal or vertical shapes, are equally popular depending on the medium. Websites, for example, are more horizontally oriented but mobile devices are often more vertical. Newspapers are more vertical while business cards are often horizontal.

Circles have more trendy usage and are used more commonly in websites and digital design than in print projects. Circles are most frequently used to represent things of the same shape that we know and create a sense of completeness.

Circles are almost always a closed shape. An element is contained within a circle or something is cut out of something else in a circular shape.

The most common uses for Triangles in design projects are directional or navigation tools. Triangles are often small in relation to the canvas and can sometimes be used in a block-style grouping to create a dynamic image or background theme. Triangles are closed shapes, made of three intersecting lines. An “open” triangle is called an angle.

Curves are the most free-flowing of all the shape options. The shape is associated with movement, pleasure, and generosity. Curves add a hint of the unexpected to something common.

Curves can also be added to other shapes for richer meanings. It is a popular technique to add curved edges to a square when creating an icon, for example. Because of this, curved shapes take on many of the other properties of the shape they accompany with the feeling of added softness.


There are an infinite variety of shapes and shape combinations. Most of the shapes you use and encounter will be geometric so try to work in organic shapes to create interest where appropriate.

When it comes to the use of shape in design and layout, designers use shapes to:

– symbolize ideas or concepts
– set a mood or emotion
– create a travel path for the eye around the design
– create depth or movement
– connect content and imagery in a layout

Now it’s time for you to put into practice what you’ve learned today. Log in to your Bannersnack account, let your imagination flow, and create something stunning out of geometric shapes.

If you are still unsure of your necessary logo and business card design, You may get in touch with us for advice and enquiries on whatsapp +65 8753 0413! 

Leave a Reply

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