At the end of my last blog post which addressed the topic of harmonizing symbols and brands, I said I’d write an article describing various symbols and their possible use in a branding context. The number of symbols available is practically infinite; so for this blog post I chose to explore the meaning and use of some basic geometric shapes and animals.
More neutral and universal than any other shape, geometric shapes are often at the root of branding because they are easy to identify and they are an excellent border for a brand name and/or another symbol. Here’s the signification of three common shapes.
Circle: The circle is the symbol of perfection, of processing of time and also signifies infinity. In addition, the circle is associated with the notion of a group (circle of friends, literary circle, etc.) and may be used in corporate branding for social services, for example, or for professional associations or organizations.
Square: The square is a more “serious” shape than the circle. Moreover, in English, although it is pejorative, a square refers to people who don’t like change and who prefer stability. Thus, the square can describe more conservative, conventional companies who tend to worry about appearances.
Triangle: The triangle is progression, development, evolution! The triangle is at the base of the pyramid and always points to the top when used by companies looking to clearly express their desire for growth.
The use of animals in branding makes perfect sense when a company is directly related to the animal. It’s logical that a sheep farmer, for example, would use this animal for its visual identity. However, when automotive, textile or insurance companies decide to represent themselves with an animal, you may have to look further for the meaning behind the symbol.
Ram: The ram is the symbol of the “male.” The ram is powerful, instinctive and full of vitality. Companies that use this animal as their symbol are often targeting their products to men looking for strong emotions.
Crocodile: Symbolism of the crocodile is mainly negative. A powerful and voracious animal, it devours everything in its path. Nevertheless, companies may see it as a way to communicate to the competition their tenacity and determination to win.
Elephant: This massive animal is more subtle than it seems. Symbol of peace and prosperity in Asia, it also means prosperity for Africans, as well as strength, longevity and wisdom. The elephant is one of the rare animals with awareness of itself and which can feel empathy, which makes it an ideal symbol for social services, pharmaceutical or insurance companies or organizations that call on collective memory.
As I mentioned above, so many symbols exist and I could write pages and pages on this topic. But as it’s better to do it in small doses, I’ll give more examples on symbolism in my next blog post.