In this highly competitive landscape, branding is key. Beyond aesthetics, branding plays a vital role in establishing trust, conveying values, and connecting with patients and providers alike.
And the best brands in this space are immediately recognizable. People may see a color. A typeface. An image style. Whatever the cue or signal, effective brands have an ownable visual identity. And though color, typography, and imagery often dominate branding conversations, people rarely talk about shape—despite the immense power it can carry when it comes to brand recognition. In this post, we will explore the significance of shapes in healthcare branding, and how we can help brands own and use shape more effectively.
So, why shapes?
Shapes arrived here long before words and letters did. Our brains are wired to recognize and interpret shapes, which makes them a powerful tool to enhance visual communications. Shapes possess inherent symbolic meanings that help communicate ideas and emotions immediately. In healthcare branding, specific shapes can be used to reinforce essential messages, anchor design elements, and unify visual compositions.
What does this look like in practice? Let’s take an example:
For Birdi—a bold new online pharmacy and prescription delivery platform—we wanted to establish a single persistent shape that could be used across all brand communications. Drawing inspiration from pills and capsules, we came up with a framing element that gave the brand wings. (Sorry, so bad.). We knew we wanted something approachable and flexible, and the oblong shape, when combined with the monogram logo and photography, offered us tremendous range.
Shapes such as circles and squares are commonly associated with stability, unity, and reliability. Curved and organic shapes, such as ellipses or flowing lines, evoke a sense of calmness, serenity, and balance. When used in healthcare branding, these shapes help promote a sense of well-being and harmony, and create a welcoming and soothing experience that translates to the patient experience.
For Q’Apel—a life-saving neurovascular medical device company—we used shapes in a number of different ways. The organization has a series of products, each named for a specific animal. First, we used the shape of the letter Q as a monogram. Within this construct, we created a visual sub-brand system that could then extend across all of their various products, from Armadillo to Walrus. Literally. To showcase the fluidity of the products themselves (these are brain catheters, people), we created a series of curved lines that reinforce the messaging and provide visual texture. Combined with a dynamic color palette, the shapes bring the whole experience to life and create a unique sense of approachability in a space that absolutely needs it.
Shapes are extraordinarily flexible design elements. They give us range. Options. Flexibility. They can be used to create masks. Textures. Patterns. They can be cropped in an infinite number of ways. They can be broken up into pieces and reapplied in different ways.
For Dash—a healthcare technology platform looking to revolutionize the patient scheduling experience—the shapes were used in numerous ways. Their platform helps connect the gaps in healthcare and create better connections. Dashed lines were perfect. They applied to heroes. Headlines. Backgrounds. They’re broken up and used in creative ways. They’re cropped. They’re in the foreground. The background. Their structure gave us a remarkable amount of design freedom and flexibility and helped create a distinct presence in the market.
When it comes to your visual identity, consider leading with shapes. Their power in healthcare branding should not be underestimated. By understanding the symbolic meanings associated with different shapes and their impact on human psychology, healthcare brands can leverage this visual signal to establish trust, promote well-being, and create a lasting connection with patients and healthcare providers.
Okay, enough talk. Let’s talk shape. Just as importantly, let’s use it to create some contrast. If you’re looking to build a strikingly different brand experience, contact our Chief Everything Officer Carin today at email@example.com to see how Contrast can help get you started.