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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Colour psychology: Red alert

Colour Psychology: Red (with fire in the background)

Colour choice is paramount when presenting your brand, so full consideration must be had before such decisions are made. As part of our colour psychology series, we look at why red’s long love affair with humans could make it the perfect partner for your brand.


Get the pulses racing with red branding


Red is the colour of love, passion, fast cars and winning teams. It’s the most complex colour in its relationship with humans. Red’s association with love may give it a warm, soft feeling but it’s also the colour of passion and fire. It’s the colour of danger and the stop sign.


Seeing red


Having the longest wavelength, red appears to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention. Royal Mail rebranded from green to enhance the visibility of their postboxes in the 1870s and when the postal operator also introduced the phone box in the 1920s, they followed suit. It’s still the colour we relate to the brand today – and many more.


Picture of red lips

Red may be synonymous with sports cars and soft drinks but it has also long been the go-to colour of the fast-food industry. McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dominos all use red. Scientists widely agree that warm colours stimulate appetite. Combining that with red’s ability to raise the heart rate increases the chances of luring people in.


Read more: What about blue? Check out our article on how blue is just as powerful.


Red card


Besides its visibility head start, red is a confident colour – certainly not the rainbow’s wallflower. This was considered part of the reason why a study by sports psychologists at the University of Munster found sports teams in red scored 10% more than those in other colours. Another study from the University of Durham looked at 42 referees in combat sports and found they awarded 13% more points to those in red.

Picture of hands with religious decorations and red clothes

Red devils


Red is just as complex culturally as emotionally. It’s important in Indian culture, representing wealth and power, and it’s the bridal colour for weddings. Travel several thousand miles west to Africa and it’s the accepted funeral colour, the opposite of Chinese culture where it’s strictly forbidden at send-offs. Red has a strong worldwide association with the political left and, in the predominantly Christian West, with the devil. If your business is international, or you’d like it to be, check the cultural connotations of red to avoid any surprises. Read more about red colour psychology in this article by Scientific American.


Interested in learning more? We’re all ears. Get in touch and let’s chat about developing your brand together.


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