Colour Guide: Why Consider Red For Your Promotional Products?

Let's talk red. Love it or hate it, it's a powerful colour that can elicit instant subliminal emotions - it's love, it's hate, it's passion, it's danger. And it's also an excellent attention-grabber, too.

In our new series, we'll be exploring the importance of colour in branding and promotional merchandise, and the role that shades can play in helping to choose products that become synonymous with your business. 

We're starting with red: linked with fire, passion and love, it's a colour that has emotional ties but can also make a bold statement all of its own, too. Read on for our whirlwind guide to red and all you need to know about this vibrant shade.

MORE: explore the different shades of red via our Pantone colour charts.

The History & Science Behind The Colour Red

Red sits at the very end of the colour spectrum, nestled next to orange. Whilst it's one of the three primary colours (along with blue and yellow), it's also the complementary colour of greenish-blue cyan - spot it on the wheel below. For the physics boffs out there, the human eye can see red when looking at light with a wavelength that sits between 625 and 740 nanometers; monkeys are able to distinguish red but other mammals (such as domestic pets) see it as grey instead.

colour wheel

Reddish pigments made from crushed ochre were one of the first colours to be used in prehistoric art, as well as in ancient ceremonies and celebrations (the Romans, for example, daubed the colour on to their bodies to celebrate battle victories). During the Renaissance period, red denoted luxury and wealth; in the 19th and 20th century, it became a colour linked with rebellion and revolution. 

Red telephone box

What Does Red Traditionally Represent?

  • As the colour of blood, red is intrinsically linked with romantic notions of bravery, sacrifice and battle. It's a colour of strength and heroism: it's bold and brave. 🛡
  • Red is also synonymous with love and passion - which is why it's the colour of choice for Valentine's Day celebrations across the globe! ❤️
  • Tying in with passion, red is also often used in sportswear, with world-famous teams such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal using the colour prominently within their kits. 🥊
  • In many Asian countries, red is considered to be the official colour of luck and happiness. 🎈
  • On the flip side, the strength and visibility of the colour are great for grabbing attention, making red the perfect core colour for warning or instruction signs on the road. 🛑

Which Famous Companies Use Red In Their Branding?

Some of the world's biggest companies use red prominently in their advertising, with their own unique tones helping to form a brand identity that's instantly recognisable to consumers across the globe. We're talking YouTube, Virgin, Levi's, Air BnB, Kellogg's, Red Bull... And so many more!

Case study: Coca-Cola

The famous curling letters of the 'Coke' logo are iconic - but why are they red? The colour dates back to the much-loved drink's very first foray onto shelves in the late 19th century, when it was sold to pharmacies as a digestion aid (no, really). Coca-Cola painted its barrels red in order to help officials distinguish the contents from alcohol. The colour stuck and now, over 130 years later, it's still in use. 

Red vending machine

The brand's famous 'red disc', which features the logo clearly displayed in the centre of it, was introduced in 1948, further securing that distinctive shade of red as being intrinsically linked with the soft drink. The goal? To present customers with 'a promise' - that the moment they see the red circle outside a shop front, they know they'll be able to head inside and enjoy their favourite drink. 

Case study: McDonald's 

Whichever country you're in, one thing's for sure - there will almost certainly be a McDonald's nearby. The fast-food chain's famous 'Golden Arches' are often matched with a bold red, whether it's a block beneath the 'M' or a background behind it. Apparently the colours - which make for a welcoming combo - have scientific reasoning behind them.

Red drive through sign

Red is considered to be en emotionally stimulating colour and, with its additional connotations of health and sporting prowess, is arguably an 'active' colour. Yellow, meanwhile, is a 'happy' colour that's highly visible. Together, the two combine to create a logo that's as lifting as it is appetite-inducing. 

It's also worth noting that a significant handful of online and social media platforms use red within their core branding, too; from the chart below, over half of the platforms use red or an associated shade within their logo. 

Red social media icons

And while we're on the subject of stand-out red logos - you might have noticed that our very own Total Merchandise logo is red. Why? Our co-founder David Stoddart explains...

Red is normally a colour associated with danger and warnings - it's a stop sign, it's an alarm. For me, it was the complete opposite. When we launched in 2004, there were a lot of logos in very serene, corporate shades of blue out there - Facebook and LinkedIn, for example - so red really stood out as something that was different and noticeable." 

Red Total Merchandise logo

It's Not Just About The Logo: Why Should You Consider Red For Your Promotional Products?

Okay: your business' logo might not be red. In fact, it might be a million miles away from it! That's not to say, however, that you can't invest in red promotional products to create meaningful impact for your business. For example: our classic Stress Love Heart is available in red or pink and offers to ensure your branding will pop whichever you choose - and a black or white logo would certainly stand-out exquisitely against that postbox red.

The beauty of Total Merchandise's wide range of promotional products is your artwork can be made to stand out on any colour or material. Whether your logo is embroidered onto a printed t-shirt or embossed onto a branded diary, you can be assured that your artwork will pop against the background colour.

Which Red Products Could You Consider For Your Upcoming Marketing Campaign?

Total Merchandise has a huge range of red promotional products available, and we also offer a Pantone-matching service on a huge range of branded items, too. The meaning? We can recreate your own unique shade of red if so desired, resulting in a product that's as bespoke to your brand as it is irresistible to your customers. 

Red product flat lay

For a quick fix of red inspiration, cast your eye over four of our favourite simply red branded products - and if you see something that catches your eye, simply fill out our enquiry form to receive your bespoke quote!

#1 The Classic: Promotional Mug

Our chunky Durham mug is ideal for printing (in up to four colours) with your artwork. Whether used at home or in the workplace, demand for mugs will always be high, meaning a promotional mug will be a sure-fire hit with your customers. Dispatch is available in as little as 10 working days!

#2 Fun Twist: Printed Rubber Ball

For branding with bounce, search no further than this logo-printed rubber ball. About the size of a tennis ball, this fun toy makes a great tie-in for sporting or fitness-related campaigns.

#3 Paper Perfection: Promotional PU Notebook

This luxurious notebook features a smart border around its edges, giving it an extra touch of sophistication. We think the red is perfect for adding a touch of luxury to note-making, with the colour guaranteed to pop in bags and on desks.

#4 Tune In: Printed Earphones

Our best-selling Cocoon Earphones are perfect for enabling your customers to take your branding on-the-go with them, with your logo clearly printed on the outer case.

Get the ball rolling with your next promotional order today. Want an instant inspiration fix? Browse our best-selling promotional products.

Written by

Katie Clark | Digital Marketing Manager

With over a decade in print and digital journalism, Katie possesses a wide skill-set that incorporates everything from SEO to PR. Joining the team in early 2019, her expertise lies in writing sparkling copy about promotional merchandise and related topics, as well as managing social media activity and developing creative solutions to keep the Total Merchandise brand at the forefront of people’s minds. With a background that includes event-planning and volunteering for charitable organisations, she has a first-hand appreciation for the needs and questions a customer might have when acquiring promotional products for their organisation. In her spare time, she loves reading, going to the cinema and learning to cook.

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