What Does the Color Red Mean? When to Choose Red for Your Logo & Brand Color Palette
Red is a very powerful color. Just looking at it raises your blood pressure and whets the appetite. Red is physical, it is the color of life itself. Red blood, red lips, full red tulips and roses. Apples beckoning you to eat them, bright red berries enticing you with promised sweetness. Red screams come closer and consume me.
It is associated with masculinity, and exudes strength and power. (Let's just be clear here – women have just as much strength and power, this color just happens to communicate the strength and power of the male variety.) Super heroes done red capes, and countries often choose it for their flags.
Red is one of the colors that jumps out at you and makes you think it is closer than it really is. Which makes it an excellent choice for stop signs and red lights. It also makes it an excellent choice if you have a brand that you want to be noticed.
The most prominent brand of all time uses red as its main brand color:
In fact, before Coca Cola, Santa Claus wore white. Which makes sense, it's the color of snow and winter. But then in came Coke and published the iconic image of Santa in Coca-Cola red robes downing a bottle of the sugary liquid. And ever since, at least in the U.S., Santa has donned only red ensembles.
Side note - it is in thanks to Finnish artist Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976), commissioned by the US Coca Cola company, who painted the first Santa in red drinking coke in the 1930s.
In languages that only have two words for colors, those are black and white. But in languages that have three words for color, those are black, white, and red.
If you want to build your brand around one of the following, red would be a good choice to use as your main brand color,
For example, here are some brands who want to make us hungry for food;
And some who want to make us hungry for adventure and excitement;
Once you have decided that red should be in your palette, next you will need to choose the shade of red. Here is where our secret weapon of applied color psychology comes in. If this is the first time you have heard of color psychology, go ahead and jump over to my explanation here. You can also download the Brand Personality Traits by season handout to see if you can get a better idea of which of the four groups your brand should be based in, based on the traits you want your brand to be known for.
Here are guidelines for which shade of red to choose, depending on which group your brand is based in--
Group 1: Spring reds will be light and cheerful. They will have more yellow in them vs. blue. Think scarlet.
Group 2: Summer reds have touches of gray, and no yellow. Mauve and maroon fall into this category.
Group 3: Autumn reds are vibrant and rich. They have more yellow in them. Think of the old masters paintings with that rich, vermillion red, or of leaves in the fall that have transformed from green to red before alighting to the ground.
Group 4: Winter reds are crystal clear and powerful. They are primary red, crimson and ruby, imagine deep red berries in winter against the white of new fallen snow.
What to watch out for when choosing a red
If you have chosen the right shade of red to match the color harmony of your brand palette, it will communicate the energy, passion, and excitement you mean to communicate.
However, if your brand color palette contains more than one color, or multiple shades of the same color, please take caution to choose all of these hues from the same harmonious color group.
If you mix in a disharmonious color, the negative aspects that the red will communicate include:
The best example of the misuse of red was when it was mixed with pure black in the Nazi swastika logo. The only colors that should be paired alongside black in branding are those in Group 4: Winter. If your brand is based in a different group and you would like a dark black-like color to use in your copy or on your website, opt for a darker shade of gray from that group.
Using applied color psychology to confidently chose your brand's color palette
Choosing colors for your brand palette doesn't have to be as hard as rocket science, and in fact can be much more quickly chosen with confidence when using the science of applied color psychology. The steps to choosing brand colors that attract and communicate are as follows,
I'm hoping that you are now a bit more acquainted with the color red and what it means, especially related to branding and communication. I challenge you to start noticing the brands that use red. What do they sell? How would you describe their brand personalities? What are they trying to convey with the use of red? Which of them is conveying a personality similar to your brand?
Do they pull you in more quickly than other brands? Do you feel your pulse increasing?
Good luck with your color choices!
Witty, fitting, memorable names for brands don't generally fall out of the sky right when you need them. Coming up with a name for your brand takes time, insight, patience, and alertness. This comprehensive guide covers the three phases of naming your brand:
Phase 1: Creating a List of Name Contenders
Adjective + Noun Formula
One simple exercise to start with when naming your brand is something that I learned in grad school. The nice, big, conference-style room that my Brand Development course met in every week happened to be in use on the day we did this, so our group roamed the halls of the art school until we found an empty closet/break room. We filed in and filled up the couches, then our instructor handed out sheets of paper and has us write columns of nouns and adjectives. Then we cut out our words and in small groups spread the words out on the little coffee tables and the magic began.
Names such as "The Red Door," "Salty Cucumber," and "Victory Socks" emerged. Some combinations were pitiful, but you would hit on a duo every so often that when read out loud, set off notes of angels singing "halleluiah."
I encourage anyone in the beginning stages of creating their brand to try this strategy. You could take it to the next level by coming up with words that fit your brand's personality, such as "elegant," "cool," and "classic" for a brand anchored in Group 2/summer.
I also teach how to put together a brand thesaurus when starting out so you have a list of branded go-to words when writing copy. The thesaurus could be a good place to start to pull words from for the brand naming exercise.
Short Names = Memorability
Why do we only pick two words when doing this exercise? The most memorable brands have short names. Think about when you introduce yourself. Even if you have a middle name, most of us only ever use our first and last names publicly. It makes remembering the names of new people a whole lot easier. And what is a key pillar of a successful brand? Memorability.
Some brands have only one name, (personality brands included), such as Amazon, Yelp, or Madonna. Others are made up names, such as Häagen-Dazs, Waze, and Google. Made up names can be handy for purchasing your website's domain name as there is a good chance no one has claimed it yet. However, they take a lot more creativity to develop as they need to be relatively short and related to what your business is about. Häagen-Dazs was created to sound Danish, as Denmark was known for dairy. Waze, the maps app, sounds like all the "ways" you can get somewhere. And Google was a play on the word “googol,” the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
A fun exercise to come up with this type of name would be to write out a brainstorm of as many words you can think of related to your business and see if changing a letter or two creates a new word that makes sense.
Or, if the essence of your brand is strongly tied to a certain culture, is there a word or phrase that you can use and change the spelling or pronunciation to look or sound like it came from that culture's mother tongue? For example, in Maine, the natives end many words with the "ah" sound. If you were going to run with the Salty Cucumber, you could tweak it to Salty Cucumbah and now its meaning has sharply turned in a new direction. Instead of a fine food brand, I'm envisioning a coastal pub.
Asses the Names of Your Competitors
I am not a fan of calling people working in your same space competitors, because if you position yourself correctly you are in a category of one, but for this scenario, I'm calling them competitors. Who or what are the top brands in your space? Is there a trend in their names? For example, in the online marketing community, the general rule of thumb is to use your first and last name as your brand. In new online businesses, it seems these brands mostly fall into the made-up word category. Go check out brands in your space and see if there is a pattern to follow.
IBM did it. UPS did it. Most associations and nonprofits do it. Using an acronym of a longer descriptive name can be a simple solution to naming your brand, however, this type of brand name requires more education on your part to communicate who you are and what you do. If you are starting a personal brand, steer clear.
When You're Completely at a Loss
First, sleep on what you have come up with so far. Wait at least a week to see if anything new crosses over from your unconscious mind to your conscious mind, it could be just the nugget you were looking for.
If not, head on over to Shopify's list of 10 Business Name Generators to Help You Create Your Brand. If you have put in the work this far, you should be able to come up with some more final contenders here.
Phase 2: What to Watch Out For
Phase 3: Trademark & Domain Name Check
Check the US Trademark Database
Once you have come up with something that seems to hit the mark, head on over to the US Trademark database, where you can look up to see if it is already in use.
Click on "Search Trademark Database" and then "Basic Word Mark Search (New User)".
I did a test for salty cucumber and at this moment in time it is up for grabs!
Domain Name Check
After the trademark test, next head on over to Better Who Is, which will allow you to look up the domain name,
This website searches ALL domain registrars to see if what you are searching for is already taken, and who owns it if it is taken, and when their registration expires. Unfortunately, www.saltycucumber.com is reserved at least through December at this time. I see that it has been registered through GoDaddy, so I did a quick search at GoDaddy to see if the company had purchased it so they could re-sell it, or if it had in fact been registered by someone. It had been taken, however, a quick change of the ending, and saltycucumbah.com was available! Hello coastal pub!
Did you generate some great brand names? If you generated some fantastic ones that don't necessarily work for you, leave them in the comments to share the wealth!
Brand stylist, colorist, graphic designer, web developer, marketer & mom, dedicated to making the world a more harmonious place