Red and green are the go-to color combination when you want to deck the halls. But would the pairing work for your business’s logo?
To understand how color functions in branding, we’ve been examining different pairs of colors — first, orange and black, then yellow and brown. In part three of our logo series, we’ll explore the power of red and green.
The colors you select for your logo contribute to the design’s visual appeal — they make it look good. But that color scheme can also reflect your brand’s personality. Is your business kid-centric? Is it a luxury brand? Is it quirky and energetic? There are certain colors that can help convey these ideas to consumers. Color psychology is the study of how color influences perception, and it’s often used in logo design to enhance a brand’s messaging.
Before we take a look at what red and green represent when they’re paired up, let’s see what they mean on their own.
Do we roll out the purple carpet or paint the town yellow? No, of course not. It’s red that we turn to when we want to describe anything that’s bold, flashy, wild or exciting, which is why companies that need to do a little grandstanding should give the color a shot.
Big brands in the retail and entertainment industries like Target, Kmart, Netflix and CNN — brands that rely on huge numbers of people tuning in and taking notice — have red logos. Obviously, most of us know red as the color of passion and romance. But love isn’t the only feeling the color can stir up — it’s also an appetite stimulant. Take a second and think about a few of your favorite fast food chains. Chances are high that most of them have red in their logos.
Does your brand promote healthy living? If so, then you might want to consider going green when designing your logo. As the color of plants and nature, green signifies freshness, health, growth and renewal. Accordingly, companies like Whole Foods, Morning Star Farms and the Sierra Club communicate their eco-friendly and health-conscious values, in part, through green logos.
Green is also linked to luck (think four-leaf clovers) and tranquility. In America, green is associated with money and wealth, so it works well in logos for financial service companies like H&R Block.
Why red and green?
With red being an appetite stimulant and green signifying freshness, this color combination has historically been popular in the food industry. However, the colors’ food-specific associations are really just a starting point for these companies. If you take a look at a few famous restaurants and soft drink companies with red and green logos, you’ll notice how the combination is able to communicate each brand’s unique, multifaceted identity.
Chili’s Grill & Bar
This Tex-Mex restaurant chain’s logo has changed several times since the company was founded in 1975, but its color scheme has remained the same throughout the years. Though we could say that the color choice here is appropriate because the red in the company’s logo subliminally makes mouths water as the green implies that the restaurant uses the healthiest ingredients, the colors also work for Chili’s for a reason that is a lot more clear-cut than that: The chain is called “Chili’s” and chili peppers are red and green. Like Chili’s, you can boost the power of your logo when the obvious reasons for choosing its colors complement the colors’ psychological undertones.
Quiznos is “bold” and “dares to be different.” So it’s only natural that they would use an eye-catching color like red to represent the audacious spirit of the brand. And because Quiznos also prides itself on the “uncompromising quality” of its natural, ethically-sourced ingredients, green is a logical choice.
Taking a page from the Chili’s playbook, red and green were also likely used for a more straightforward reason: The creation of the submarine sandwich is tied to the Italian-American community of the early 20th century, and the Italian flag is red, green and white. Red and green were a great choice for the Quiznos logo because the combination emphasizes the brand’s mission statement and the heritage of its product — it’s (like) a branding double whammy!
Even though Mountain Dew is an artificially flavored soft drink, its brand identity is linked to nature. Right away, a name like “Mountain Dew” evokes images of the great outdoors. But this isn’t the tranquil, organic side of nature — it’s more extreme. Early commercials did emphasize leisure with a jingle that went, “Give me a mountain and nothing to do. Give me the sunshine, give me a Dew.” But in the years since, Mountain Dew has been repositioned from a beverage befitting a sedate stroll into the energy booster you drink before climbing Mount Everest. PepsiCo, which owns the brand, calls Mountain Dew “the original instigator,” and Greg Lyons, PepsiCo’s senior vice president of marketing, said in an interview with BuzzFeed that all Mountain Dew products should deliver a “physical and emotional kick.”
Taking all of this into consideration, green works for Mountain Dew’s logo because it nods to the brand’s connection to nature. However, it’s the red that brings the kick that’s so central to the brand persona.
Put it together
When designing your business’s logo, you may find that a particular color scheme stands out as an obvious fit for your brand. Isn’t it hard to imagine a better combination than red and green for a restaurant called Chili’s? But that obvious choice becomes the perfect choice when the meaning behind the colors reflects your brand’s voice, persona and values.