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Red Logos: When & Why Your Brand Should Use Them

You’ve worked in your industry for more than a decade — you’re an industry vet. In the past year, you formulated a business plan for your startup, raised enough money to launch it, and devised a plan to manufacture, sell, and distribute your offering.

You think that you’re ready to launch your business. Amirite? Unfortunately, you might have overlooked something that’s very important. Your business brand will need a logo — and you’ll want to select a color for the logo that triggers the kind of emotions that will convert prospective customers of your product into actual customers.

Understanding how people react to colors and logos

“When it comes to identifying your brand, your logo is probably the first thing your customers will think of,” reports the publication Fast Company in its article “What Your Logo’s Color Says About Your Company.” “While honing the narrative and message behind your logo should, of course, be your primary concern, research suggests that your logo’s design — and specifically its colors — have more bearing on your customers’ opinions than you might think.”

Some business executives may think it’s implausible that logos, and especially colors, matter. But a substantial amount of behavioral, neuroscientific, and psychological research proves that it does.

“People make a subconscious judgment about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on color alone,” the article reports. “In fact, almost 85 percent of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80 percent of people believe color increases brand recognition.”


Colors trigger emotions

Different colors trigger different emotions in people throughout the world, including your prospective customers.

Understanding which colors spark which emotions can give your company an advantage over its competitors and increase the effectiveness of your company’s branding.

For some companies, blue logos are advantageous because the color blue conveys trust. If your company sells professional services such as legal services, a blue logo might be preferable. For other companies, green logos are advantageous because the color green conveys growth and wealth.

This article, though, focuses on the color red and how it can be used to sell your products and services via your logos and other company materials.

Create a red logo

The psychology of red

Will a red logo benefit your company? You can probably answer that question if you learn what emotions red conveys and which companies use red logos.

Red colors spark the following reactions or emotions, according to research cited in this infographic:

  • Energy
  • Urgency
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excitement
  • “The intensity of blood and fire”
  • Passion
  • Aggressiveness

It’s no coincidence that stores often use signs with color letters when they’re trying to expeditiously sell products such as when there’s a clearance sale. It’s also common for media outlets to use red letters when there’s a breaking news story that they want their audience to read or view right away. Red conveys “Act Now.” That’s also why “call to action” (CTA) buttons are often red.

The article “The Psychology of Color: How to Use Colors to Increase Conversion Rate” points out that using red colors to make sales works for companies that are selling adventure, but not security. “No surprise, then, that the latest Ferrari 488 GTB comes in a deep pure color red,” wrote Neil Patel, who Forbes magazine called one of the USA’s top 10 marketers. “This should increase your heartbeat and spur you into action – assuming you can afford it, of course. This is a positive user experience for a sports car but perhaps not for money management.”


Red logos galore

You probably knew that red also works to sell products based on passion and love such as roses, but did you also know that red stimulates hunger? That’s why KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, and Wendy’s all use red logos, reports the article “The Psychology of Color in Logo Design.” Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Heinz, Dairy Queen, Lay’s, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Redbull also have red logos.

Many companies in the art & media industry, the technology industry, the retail industry, and the professional services industry also use red logos. Some of these include:

  • CNN
  • Time magazine
  • Oracle
  • Puma
  • Bank of America

Other companies that use a red logo include YouTube, Nintendo, Kmart, Netflix, Exxon, Ace Hardware, Target Corporation, Canon Inc., Avis, and Lego.

The predominance of food and drink companies on the list of companies with a red logo isn’t a coincidence. These companies want you to buy their product NOW. And the correlation between the color red and action is NOT just an American thing. It has global implications.

“Red is a powerful color,” notes the Scientific American article “How the Color Red Influences Our Behavior.” “It’s the color of Cupid and the Devil, the color of love and hate… Some of the hue’s significance has a biological basis. Many humans get red in the face from increased blood flow when they are angry…Seeing red also triggers some surprising behaviors. For instance, drivers blocked in traffic by a red car react faster and more aggressively than drivers barred by vehicles of other colors.”


Logos don’t have to be expensive

As a small business owner, you might be saying to yourself right now ‘sure logos work, but they’re too expensive for me.’

Logos, in fact, can be very expensive. An article in Entrepreneur magazine entitled “What Does the Color of Your Logo Say About Your Business?” reports that some prominent logos cost at least $1 million, but some prominent logos were also very inexpensive, including the logos of Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, Twitter, and Nike.

Based on how crucial they can be to buying decisions, it’s worth it to invest in your logo. A University of Amsterdam study reported that 67 percent of 2- and 3-year-olds can match logos with their products and 100 percent of 8-year-olds are able to do so, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

A company’s logo is particularly important when its color matches the emotions necessary to sell that company’s product and is used consistently in the company’s other marketing and promotional materials.

“The color of some logos is more powerful than the logos themselves — think the red of Coca-Cola or the pink of Barbie or the rainbow colors of Google,” wrote Entrepreneur magazine reporter Kate Taylor.

Red logos useful everywhere

Abroad, red signifies luck in China and mourning in parts of Africa, reports the Scientific American article. In many Asian cultures, it symbolizes very happy emotions as well as luck, wealth, and a long life.

“Red is the most powerful of all colors in Indian culture and holds many important meanings,” adds the article “What Colors Mean in Other Cultures.” “Among them are fear and fire, wealth and power, purity, fertility, seduction, love, and beauty.”

However, you should also know that the color red also reduces analytical thinking according to research conducted at the University of Rochester, reports a Forbes magazine article. Consequently, a red logo might not be a wise choice for your company if it sells a product or service that people generally think about for a long time before they make a purchasing decision.

As a business executive, what you need to know about the color red is that a red logo can convey a powerful first impression. And it can also trigger impulsive buying decisions if and when prospective customers see the logo again and again.

“Red regularly sways behavior,” the Scientific American article states.

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Amber Ooley
Amber Ooley
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