All Eyes On Red

Why any entrepreneur should consider incorporating RED into their strategy.
Photo credits: The Blog
November 23, 2023

Been thinking about (drawn to) the power of red. Since eyes always go to red, shouldn’t companies think more about it too?

Charlotte Sinclair, writer on the arts and travel for Condé Nast, so keenly grasps the power that RED has on all cultures and affairs.

In an article she wrote for Vogue UK, she articulates:

“We are hard-wired to red. There is no other colour that is so fundamental, so fused to our primal, human itches. Red takes no prisoners. It is emphasis itself, the double underline, the stop sign, the alert, the roadblock, the alarm, the danger, the oomph, the sex, the passion, the incitement, the excitement. It’s the colour of kings and queens, war and empire, theatre and power. It is both the Devil and the blood of Christ, hell and the Holy Ghost, the animal impulse and the beating heart, red dust and the planet’s magma core. It’s the colour of life and action, the chromatic equivalent of a lipsticked kiss (with tongues) and a bloody nose. Red is adrenaline, fireworks, the break with convention. It is shame and violence and blushing and rage.”

If this is not enough to make any entrepreneur or company leader consider red for their marketing strategies and ideas, she truly drives it home when she goes on so convincingly to say:

“Red is shorthand for high passion: think of Saturday-night red-rose sellers outside restaurants, love hearts and red knickers. It’s the colour of revolution, of Communism and reds under the bed, of Russia and China, Buddhism and Hinduism, cardinals and jezebels, horror films and high art, Rothko and Titian, The Red Shoes and Little Red Riding Hood, sports cars and high heels, poppies and bloodshed. (“I suppose the pain of parting will be red and loud,” says the prisoner in Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading. It couldn’t be anything but.) Film loves a character in red, from Julia Roberts at the opera in Pretty Woman to the couple of Don’t Look Now haunted in Venice by a figure in a red coat. Red is as clarifying as fire.

The history of the world is a history of red. The palaeolithic dead were buried on beds of red ochre, alongside vases of blood or wine, jasper and garnet stones, writes Michel Pastoureau in his fascinating history Red. In the Middle Ages, red was the colour of hell and damnation, but also the colour of the Holy Ghost and divine love. The high priests of ancient Greece, with their fire-worshipping ceremonies, wore crimson robes. Popes used to dress in red – think of Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X – until the colour became associated with immorality (scarlet women, painted ladies etcetera) and red accents were replaced with white. The only remaining touch to the papal uniform was a pair of red shoes, which Pope Benedict XVI had specially made for him. Pope Francis, making a point of his humility, has gone back to black ones. My favourite red fact – gleaned from Pastoureau’s book – is that those white togas in ancient Rome were, in reality, dyed crimson. And that the women of 15th-century Florence were so enamoured of red, wearing it for all festive occasions, that the city council had to establish a calendar of access to the waters of the Arno river for the dye workshops, since when the river was monopolised by the red dyers, the waters would be turned bloody and brackish, much to the fury of the blue dye workshops (not to mention the fishermen).

And did you know that Red Riding Hood’s ruby cloak can be attributed to the rural custom of dressing your children in a piece of red clothing to make it easier to keep them in sight? And that if you wear red while competing in sport you are more likely to win? And, conversely (as proved by experiments conducted at the State University of New York), if a test is presented to you in a red folder, will you do worse on it than if it’s in a blue folder?

Of course you did. Much of our reaction to red is understood by instinct. For example, you are more likely to have a better night in a velvet nightclub the colour of a harlot’s knicker drawer than in a venue of any other hue.

Red is life’s intensifier, with an edge of impolite danger, like pouring petrol on a barbecue. Even the tattiest of supermarket red roses have their own stuttering pulse of energy. In a world that can be dark and gray and very sad and often quite insane, a vivid, vivacious, life-affirming dose of red is often – and perhaps always – the only thing that will do.”

Vogue for “Red a Fashion Trend” article

NOW that you know all this, NOW that you know you have the massively potent tool of RED at your disposal, isn’t it time you start weaving it into your work?

Photo credits: Can Sun


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