THE COLOR RED IN MARKETING
Updated: Aug 12
This is an article “The Color Red in Marketing” by Marc Primo Warren
Colors are essential in the world of marketing. Designers spend hours and hours reviewing palettes that go with copies to ensure that collaterals have a specific effect on targeted consumers. One mistake can spell a huge difference in how an ad can create appeal for better branding and sales. For most designers, red is one of the best bets to capture that appeal.
Art and copy ultimately differentiate brands from one another as the combination of marketing elements convey the story behind your product or company. Red is one colorful tone that can represent energy, passion, or action, and when combined with other hues, it is able to create something more suggestive than its usual symbolisms.
To get a better understanding of how red works in the realm of marketing, here are a few insights that can help you use the color more effectively.
Red as a standard
Red can bring out an array of emotions when integrated in your design. Its warmth often commands attention, but is more suggestive of specific emotions rather than its aesthetic value.
However, there are plenty of things that we see around us which have already assigned red as their standard color such as hearts, roses, chili, and strawberries among many others. Symbols like the Red Cross, China’s flag, or stop signs also predominantly assume red in their designs to signify various meanings (support, patriotism, and warning respectively).
Red in brands
In marketing, the color is widely used by most iconic global brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, YouTube, and Netflix, mostly for how it is associated with excitement.
Let’s take Coca-Cola’s red and white combo, for example. While the colors may not really have a connection to the product (with white’s innocence and purity combined with red’s energy), it still works wonders for the brand because of how the company’s marketing experts set out to define the logo throughout its history. The trademark design was so influential that in 1931, the brand helped etch the image of Santa Claus in red and white into our minds after the brand’s production of a Christmas commercial.
Another example is how the YouTube logo of red, white, and black conveys excitement and a call to action by how the red functions as a play button against a white background, with the brand text in black.
Red as we know it
Colors are used in various media to signify a range of emotions that can both be good or bad. While brands often use it to convey energy or passion, a school teacher will mark a wrong answer on your test paper with red ink to indicate displeasure, while horror movie posters often use the color to connote blood and send a shiver down your spine.
Red’s versatility and how we have come to associate it with social cues only suggests that it is important to recognize its two sides in the emotional spectrum before we integrate it with our design. Some tactics that are commonly used include adjusting its tone with lighter shades to address a feminine audience looking for a softer appeal, such as how Japanese make-up brand Shiseido used it. Darker tones of red, on the other hand, can suggest energy and authority such as in brand logos like Red Bull or Adobe.
It takes a good eye to determine how the color red should work with your design’s palette. Being clear on how you’d want to convey your brand message might need some lighter tones and complementing hues, or maybe even background colors to accentuate symbols and evoke a call to action. However you use it, the color red can certainly be an eye-catcher as far logos or ad designs go.