Shape, Colour, Content

Since the dawn of early human language, symbols have been a powerful way that we communicate with one another. It’s hardwired deep into our psychology to interpret symbols, make connections and say so much with so little.

Therefore, it’s not surprising to note, that when the human brain perceives a brand - it’s shape that ranks number one in the sequence of cognition, before colour and even content.In her book, Designing Brand Identity, Alina Wheeler notes that the sequence of cognition is comprised of three sequential steps: shape, colour, content.

As a result - when we make decisions around which logo to use, or which one is the most distinctive and recognizable, then shape is of the utmost importance.


We need to consider how the shape of the logo differs from the shapes used around it and in competition to it. What can be done to the shape to make it more unique? Distinctive shapes leave a faster imprint on the memory. Symmetrical shapes achieve balance and a create a sense of harmony.

By deciding what affect we want to have on the viewer, we can use shape to stand out and communicate the right message.In fact, research suggests that there is much more to a logo than just aesthetic appeal. A study conducted by an international team of researchers, suggests that people make complex assessments of a company or product based merely on the shape of the logo.

“Five experiments document that the mere circularity and angularity of a brand logo is powerful enough to affect perceptions of the attributes of a product or company.” - Journal of Consumer Research.


After shape comes colour. Colour triggers our emotional response and evokes associations. Distinctive colours need to be chosen carefully not only to build awareness around your brand but to express differentiation.

How can we use colour in unique and innovative ways in contrast to your competition? How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand? Colour should be used intentionally to set the right emotional tone.


And finally, its time for content - ie. your wordmark. While visual elements can be remembered and recognized directly, a word must be decoded into meaning. It happens quickly of course but it takes a bit longer to settle into memory. If you’ve decided to use a wordmark as your stand along logo - it’s of utmost importance to make sure that the overall shape, your typography choices and the chosen colour create enough distinction for it to be easily remembered by your customers.

By tuning into the sequence of cognition: shape > colour > content - you can start to navigate the factors that will help make your brand unique and memorable.

By using a distinctive logo alongside your wordmark and by paying keen attention to typography, colour and the associations they produce, you are much more likely to stand out and be noticed.

To your unbridled success,