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August 27, 2008

The Power of Red

The Pope dons red Prada kicks, politicians break out red ties in election season and that darn Netflix package always seems to stand out in a crowd of manilla and ivory mail. Why red? Do humans have a penchant for the rainbow’s most fiery color?

This study released in 2005 discovered that red-clad athletes out-performed competitors donning blue uniforms and suggested that the win discrepancy occurred because of an innate association of red with dominance and assertiveness. New research goes further in exploring the power of red. Researchers at Germany’s University of Münster threw judged competitions like tae kwon do into the mix and found that referees awarded athletes in red an average of 13 percent more points than azure-wearing sportsmen. So, why exactly does red provide such a distinct advantage?

The German study attributed their findings to an unconscious bias, but did not conclude where the bias stems from--suggesting that the reason could be as simple as red being more eye-catching. Other studies suggest that our weakness for red comes from primates’ unique color vision that in the past allowed the first humans to forage the forest and successfully locate ripe fruit. Instinctive or not, red definitely boasts some serious power.

While red might not be the color choice for a business looking to soothe and relax customers, like say a meditation studio or spa, if a company hopes to grab a bit of attention and give off an assertive message, strong shades of red might do the trick. Redbox, Red Lobster, Red Hat, (Product) Red and countless other companies have created instantly recognizable logos, websites and packaging that all appeal to our predisposition for all things scarlet, cherry, ruby, and straight-up red.

You can read more cool studies like the ones cited by going here and here.


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