How to Use Red in Branding

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array of red pantone colors

Red is one of marketing’s favorite colors – it provokes and is very noticeable. There’s nothing right or wrong with red in and of itself, but there are pitfalls to using it in your brand. Let’s dive into the positives and negatives of using the color red in marketing and branding.

Positives:

  • Red is striking; it will definitely get you noticed.
  • Red is a ‘power’ color: it denotes action, fearlessness, passion, urgency.
  • Red can also mean spicy, hot and stimulate hunger. Think of restaurant logos like Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A, KFC and Arby’s.
  • Red provides great contrast against white or black backgrounds.
  • Red pairs well with purples and blues.

Negatives:

  • Red can be seen as too aggressive. Statistics show that red cars are involved in more accidents than cars of any other color.
  • Using red for text: When used alongside black text, it’s commonly acknowledged that red text means ‘error’.
  • Due to accessibility issues (i.e., color blindness), red is problematic for website use. Avoid using it in text, action buttons, and forms. It’s fine if your logo is red, but find other (complementary) colors to use for text, buttons and backgrounds.
  • Using red can be limiting. When used in lighter tints, it becomes pink, and pink has a narrowly defined use in marketing.

What’s a Good Alternative to Red?

  • Orange is a great alternative to using red! It grabs your attention, and pairs beautifully with blues, purples and greens. When used as a tint, you get wonderful peach or apricot tones. And whereas red can look dated, orange has a more modern feel.