Do you know the oldest cave art is a red dot? Yes, that is true! According to an article published on NewScientist in 2012:
“As cave art goes, it doesn’t look like much: a single red dot, hidden among a scatter of handprints and drawings of animals on the wall of El Castillo cave in northern Spain.
But this red dot is at least 40,800 years old, making it the oldest known piece of cave art in Europe. At that time modern humans had only just migrated out of Africa, raising a tantalizing possibility: that the dot was drawn by a Neanderthal. If that’s the case our extinct cousins may have had the rudiments of written language.”
And what is interesting of all is the use of the color red!
With the above confirmation, we can safely say that red was amongst the first colors to be used to depict something. Just like the ancient cave paintings, the modern world uses the color red to portray various messages through paintings and graphic designs.
Colors, texts, and shapes are used by big companies to market their brand and their products. Big brands understand the psychological impact that a color can have on humans. From Coca-Cola to FedEx, companies use color psychology to attract consumers.
Red: Meaning and Symbolism
Colors, when combined with different shapes, can have a completely different meaning. For example, squares and rectangles evoke the feeling of safety and security. These shapes are widely used by companies that sell home-based products. Such companies may use lighter shades of red with squares and rectangles to add a sense of love and protection. Again, a red triangle is used to depict danger! This amazing contrast that the color red provides makes it a favorite for designers and brands from all across the world.
Various studies have found that red is the opposite of blue. Blue has a calming effect, whereas red stimulates the mind to take immediate action. Red increases body temperature and blood flow. The color heightens emotions and makes a person more passionate.
Red is associated with violence and war, but it is also used by brands that are out to help people; the American Red Cross is a prime example.
Josef Albers, an American designer and abstract painter says:
“If one says ‘Red’ – the name of color – and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”
Red in Logos
Colors are powerful and for a designer, they are a lethal weapon! Designers harness the power of colors and intelligently use them in graphic designs. Red is one of the oldest colors to be used by the ancients to depict things that the modern man, with all his intelligence, has not been able to decipher.
In a logo, red may symbolize:
- Good times
- Positive vibrations
Apart from the above, red also symbolizes higher power and the beginning of a spiritual journey. Top brands such as Marvel, Coca-Cola and Netflix use the color red to depict varied emotions through their visual identities.
American Red Cross
Established by Clara Barton in 1881, the American Red Cross or The American National Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that focuses on providing disaster relief and emergency assistance.
Barton fearlessly worked for the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. She realized that the organization could prove beneficial for Americans and put in all her efforts to establish the organization in the US. Her dream was finally realized in 1881, with the American chapter being founded in Dansville, New York.
The American Red Cross logo is one of the most iconic visual identities in the world. The Red Cross portrays the flag of Switzerland—the organization’s place of birth.
Charles Geschke and John Warnock left Xerox PARC to form their own company. In 1982, Adobe was officially launched straight from Warnock’s garage. The company was named after Adobe Creek in Los Altos, which was right behind Warnock’s house.
Fun fact: Steve Jobs offered $ 5 million to buy Adobe in its first year, but both Geschke and Warnock refused. Later, they agreed to sell 19 percent of the company share.
The adobe logo has gone through five redesigns in its history. The current emblem was adopted by the company in 2020. The red and white color scheme portrays the company’s progressive values. The logo also depicts energy and innovation.
The world-renowned soft drink was invented by John Stith Pemberton in 1886 and was marketed as a temperance drink. The soft drink became a super success as soon as it was launched. In 1888, Asa Griggs Candler, an American businessman, bought the recipe from Pemberton before forming the Coca-Cola Company in 1892.
Fun fact: The Coca-Cola recipe is a top guarded secret to this day!
Frank M. Robinson, Pemberton’s bookkeeper, can be credited with creating the logo. The wordmark was executed in Spencerian script, which became the bedrock for all future redesigns. The red and white Coca-Cola emblem features amongst the top visual identities in the world.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Cable News Network (CNN) was founded by Ted Turner and Reese Schonfeld.
CNN is best known for dramatic news coverage and over-sensationalizing stories. The Gulf War, 9/11 Attacks and 2008 US elections are among the major events covered by the network.
Fun fact: CNN was America’s first 24-hour channel dedicated to news!
The 24-hour news channel redesigned its visual identity three times since its launch. The current version of the logo was redesigned in 2014. The red and white color palette looks professional and adds elements of energy and passion. The perfectly balanced logo also looks futuristic.
YouTube, the second most visited website in the world, was launched in February 2005 by Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley. Many stories are doing the rounds about how the idea for a video streaming platform evolved. According to Karim, the idea for a video sharing-platform occurred when he could not find the video clips of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Fun fact: YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google!
The YouTube logo is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. The logo uses a red, white and black color palette which depicts elegance, energy, passion and purity.
AIDS (Red Ribbon)
AIDS was first clinically reported on June 5, 1981; however, New York Native, the gay newspaper, first described the disease in May 1981. After a dramatic rise in cases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formed a task force to monitor and understand the sickness. The CDC began referring to the disease as AIDS after a meeting was held in 1982.
Fact: AIDS was first referred to as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID)
The red ribbon is used to show support for people living with HIV Aids. The red ribbon also stands for drunken driving prevention and drug prevention. The iconic symbol is used to increase people’s awareness about the life-threatening disease.
I Love New York
The I Love New York logo and slogan have been in use since 1977 to promote tourism in New York. The New York State Department of Economic Development owns the logo.
Fun fact: Milton Glaser, a legendary American graphic designer, made the logo in the back of a taxi in 1977 using nothing but a piece of scrap paper and red crayon!
The I Love New York logo is amongst the most iconic visual identities in the world today. The red heart stands for love, passion, positivity, excitement and exploration. The simple design is a reminder that creativity is best kept uncomplicated and effortless.
Netflix, an American over-the-top (OTT) platform, was founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings in California. Initially, the company was launched as an online DVD-rental store. In 2013, Netflix began producing its very own Films and TV series.
Fun fact: Morning Consult, a data intelligence company, ranked Netflix as the 8th most trusted brand in the world.
Netflix has changed its logo five times, which includes a smartphone version. The OTT giant currently uses two logos: the solitary N logo and the wordmark. The streaming media service uses a red and white color palette in their logos. Red portrays the energy and passion of cinema and white depicts a movie curtain.
Canon, best known for its camera and lenses, was founded as Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory in Japan in 1933. Today, it is one of the most recognized brands in the world.
Canon changed its visual identity five times in its history. The current wordmark was redesigned in 1956. The color red, in the wordmark symbolizes passion, purpose and determination.
Formula One or F 1 is one of the premier racing events in the world. The F1 cars are considered the fastest in the world due to their aerodynamic downforce.
One of the best racing events in the world can also boast about having one of the most iconic emblems in the world. The bright red logo depicts energy, passion and SPEED!
Successful brands are those that think of benefitting the consumers in new ways. While it is true that a business is about making profits, in the end, integrity and value matter the most. All the above brands offered something unique to the world, which they depicted through their amazing red logos.
PJ has a background in management consulting and software development. At DesignBro, he combines both. Personal favorite brand of PJ is Jeep.