By: Shaz Poormand
The Psychology of Color is an interesting concept. According to this, color can impact our mood, our emotion, and even our behavior. Sound absurd? Well, consider how color has impacted your life. There’s probably a reason that you bought that cerulean bed linen set; the white car you’re proud to call yours; the pink toothbrush residing in your medicine cabinet. Think back and you may remember the reason for your choices.
I want to focus your attention on the color red. This bold color has specific applications: it’s used to draw your attention; it is associated with sensuality and arousal; and sometimes used as a warning of danger. This is probably not new to you at all. You’ve all heard that driving a red car (Ferrari or not) makes you more likely to get a speeding ticket. Come Valentine’s Day and there’s red galore! Red roses petals are strewn all over the place, red lingerie is in abundance, and if you’re single, you’ll probably devour an entire tray of Godiva’s heart-shaped chocolates whilst watching “The Notebook” (rented from a RedBox, of course). And on top of all that, who hasn’t seen one of these??
Now that we’ve established some of “red’s” applications, you’re probably wondering about the “why?” aspect.
Crowley (1993) suggests that some colors stimulate brain wave activity and skin conductance more than others. That is to say that across the color spectrum there is a universal impact that certain colors have on our nervous system. Red, in particular, has been shown in studies to increase perspiration, trigger brain waves and raise blood pressure and the rate of respiration (Adler, 1999).
While there is a link between color and behavior, most of the evidence thus far is anecdotal or limited to a few specific studies. Therefore, I’ve been left with little choice than to come up with my own theory (at least, I think it’s my own as I haven’t seen this anywhere else).
Red is the color within us. It’s the color that keeps us alive. Without our cardinal blood running through our veins, we would be nothing. The times that we see this source of red it usually draws our attention as it can be linked to danger, and can also be tied to the creation of life (I’m not going to delve deeper into that). Elsewhere, within nature, red berries are usually to be avoided unless recognized and the only fully red creatures we’re not averse to is the ladybug. The Mandrillus sphinx that have greater levels of testosterone, and are therefore more attractive to a mate, have more prominent red coloration shown on their nose, lips, and err…derrière. Our darling cheeks blush rosy red when we’re embarrassed; our noses, much like Rudolph’s, glow red when cold; our entire faces turn crimson red when we’re hot (or angry). Out of all the other colors in the rainbow, red is the one that acts as an indicator for us. We’d never actually turn green out of envy now, would we?
We’ve adopted red as a status symbol. From the elusive red carpet, to the exclusive red velvet rope (depending on which side of it you are standing on) red denotes power and demands attention. Culturally, the Chinese see red as the color of luck, which many brides wear on their wedding day. Elsewhere, red is affiliated with various political parties, such as The Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico.
So is the color red really a driving force for branding? Not entirely. It is important to recognize consumers as individuals with unique perspectives. Just because a color is more activating doesn’t mean that a consumer particularly likes it; the effect they associate with it plays a huge role as well (Crowley, 1993). In other words, we’re not all bulls rushing tusks first towards things colored red.
Red can be seen as good and bad by consumers, so careful selection of company logo, products and branding should be considered. In my opinion, the correct application of the color red will have people spending green, and lots of it at that!
“Responding to Color” (Source)
Crowley, A.E. (1993) The Two-Dimensional Impact of Color on Shopping. Marketing Letters 4 (1) pp 59-69.