The History and Meaning of Red
The colour red is a rich colour with an even richer history. The use of this pigment dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was considered as much a colour of vitality and celebration as it was of evil and destruction. From there, red was a staple hue throughout history, used in ancient Greek murals, on Byzantine clothing to signal status and wealth, and widely applied in all art movements from the Renaissance to modern art.
Red is considered a colour of intense emotions, ranging from anger, sacrifice, danger and heat, to love, passion and sexuality.
Best practices for shades of red in design
You see shades of red on screens almost every day. There are, within the range, from pure red to an infinite number of different shades: pinkish reds, dark reds, reds, reds, garnets, passion reds…
The reason is that the colour red has a remarkable nature. The user interface designer uses the red colours to attract attention.
Not all reds are the same. Apart from light and dark shades of red, there are two types of red: Tomato red and cherry red
Yellow-based reds are “tomato” reds. Blue-based reds are “cherry” reds. Some say that men are more attracted to tomato reds: women to cherry reds.
Context is everything when using red. For example, when red is placed on a black background, it glows with an otherworldly fire; on a white background, red appears somewhat duller; in contrast to orange, red appears lifeless. Notice that the red square appears larger on the black.
Regardless of how it is used in a design, a little red goes a long way.
The red colour codes
Their hexadecimal code is #FF0000.
Information about Red / #FF0000
In an RGB colour space, hex #FF0000 is made up of 100% red, 0% green and 0% blue. In a CMYK colour space (also known as process colour, or four-colour process, and used in colour printing), hex #FF0000 is made up of 0% cyan, 100% magenta, 100% yellow and 0% black.
Red has a hue angle of 0 degrees, a saturation of 100% and a lightness of 50%.
The colour hexadecimal #FF0000 has the RGB values of RGB: 100, G: 0, B: 0 and the CMYK values of C: 0, M: 1, Y: 1, K:0.
Application of red in advertising
Used in branding, it can pack a punch with the ability to increase desire. It’s no wonder when it’s the colour of fire and blood, as well as being associated with love. It is a bold, energetic and vivid colour that can symbolise strength, confidence and power.
Red increases the heart rate by activating the pituitary gland. Use it when conveying excitement or extreme emotions. Food companies use red in shop signage because it stimulates appetite and increases metabolism.
A recent study found that changing the colour of the price from black to red in an advertisement makes users think they are getting a bargain.
As red is highly visible and helps to bring text and images to the forefront, we suggest you use it as an accent on your signage to draw attention to your key messages.
Depending on the sector you work in, it will be recommended to use red for your branding or the opposite.
Tips for use: In many Asian countries, such as India and China, red is considered the colour of happiness, wellbeing and good fortune, so always be aware of the context.
Using red is good for businesses of:
Using the colour red is bad for companies from:
- Energy (solar, electric…)
Global meanings for red
- Red is one of everyone’s two favourite colours.
- Red is the most widely used colour in flags around the world. Approximately 77% of flags include red.
- Red is the international colour of stop.
- Red districts sell sex and pornography in all European cultures.
- The history of languages reveals that red is the first colour after black and white (all languages have words for black and white. If there is a third shade, it is red).
Contradictions and meanings of red according to cultures
- Red is the colour of good luck in Asia and is most popular in China.
- Most Japanese children draw the sun as a large red circle.
- In East Asian stock markets, red is used to denote a rise in stock prices. (Note: In North American stock markets, red is used to denote a fall in stock prices.)
- Red is an auspicious colour for marriage. Indian and Nepalese brides wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolises happiness and good luck.
How the colour red affects vision
Red is an attention grabber. It is one of the most visible colours, second only to yellow, which explains why it is used on fire engines and stop signs to activate the alert.
Red focuses behind the retina, which forces the lens to become more convex to pull it forward. Therefore, we perceive the red areas as moving forward. This may explain why red captures attention.
8% of the male population has a deficiency in red-green colour vision and cannot see absolute red.
Myths about red
They say that red raises blood pressure and speeds up the heartbeat. Yes, red is a strong colour, but its immediate effects are only temporary and don’t apply to everyone.