This Is Why So Many Logos Are Red

Yep, science has a reason why you can't resist those bright red logos you see everywhere.

red logosShutterstock (4)

There’s a reason you can’t resist the siren call of McDonald’s, Target, and Netflix. What is it about these company logos that makes people stop in their tracks?

They share a common color: red. That’s not by accident. People make judgments within a minute and a half of seeing a person or an object, according to the digital marketing firm WebpageFX. And as much as 90 percent of that impression is based on the color alone.

Marketers use certain colors in their logos or advertisements to evoke emotions and feelings that encourage people to buy, says Emily Carter, a web marketing analyst for WebpageFX. So what is it specifically about red?

“Red is associated with increased heart rate, and it’s used to create a sense of urgency,” Carter says. “This is why you’ll often see red tags for clearance sales. The color red is also said to stimulate appetite, and it’s used by a number of restaurants, food, and beverage brands like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg’s. On the other hand, the color blue, like we used in our WebFX logo, is often used by corporate businesses, as it conveys a sense of security and trust.” Find out what company logos looked like when they were young.

Your attraction to red isn’t only because you’re hungry and looking for a good deal. The photo receptors in your eyes are particularly sensitive to long wavelength light, which we see as red.

“There’s an incentive to make logos red because red is the most visible color,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist and artist with the National Eye Institute. He and other researchers have studied how color translates across languages.

“There’s overwhelming evidence that red is a special colr,” Conway says. “Of all of the colors, across all of the world, in all of the world’s languages, we communicate red most efficiently.”

The color can be associated with both positive and negative emotions, which figures into how companies use it. Red may be angry and aggressive at stop signs, or it can signal love and seduction and Valentine’s hearts. But it always stands out. Next, check out the secret messages in company logos you see all the time. 

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.