In 1928, Robert Woodruff, then CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, made the decision to standardise the colour used by the brand by adopting Coca-Cola Red.

Over 90 years later, Coca-Cola and the colour red are an iconic pairing. In fact, red is Coca-Cola’s worldwide badge of recognition – quite literally recognised anywhere in the world. So, to celebrate International Colour Day 2019, we wanted to delve a little deeper into the power behind Coca-Cola’s iconic hue.

That’s why we asked Vice President of The Pantone Color Institute and all-round colour expert, Laurie Pressman, to explain how and why red affects us more than any other colour…

The power of red goes far deeper than you’d think

The psychology of colour

“Thanks to extensive research, we know that individual colours convey their own message and meaning, influence our perceptions and shape our responses.

“By creating an emotional connection in the human mind, colour can express and give meaning to fantasies and aspirations. Each colour has meaning that we either inherently sense or have learned about by association and/or conditioning. As such, consumer response to colour can remain constant, change considerably, or it can simply evolve.”

Red is the colour of extremes

“Red is the colour of passion, love, seduction, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the colour of fire and blood, and most of red’s symbolism today arises from those powerful associations in the past.

“In some cultures, red symbolises luck, success, fortune and prosperity. In China, for example, red represents happiness, good fortune and prosperity – which is why gifts of money are customarily presented in red envelopes. But, whatever its cultural relevance, red is always challenging, opinionated, outstanding and always a statement worth making.”

“If one says Red – the name of colour – and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”   - Josef Albers

How the colour red can affect us

“Red is thought to be inherently exciting to the human brain. It conveys energy, positivity and passion like no other shade range, and is the most sensual of all colours.

“Studies show that red affects brain function more than any other colour. Under red light lengths appear longer, weight seems heavier, time seems to pass more slowly, and people will even gamble more. Further still, the brightest reds make the boldest statements; arousing the strongest emotions and physiologically ‘getting the blood up’.”

Coca-Cola Red

“Coca-Cola Red is a classic shade of red – it’s not too brown, not too blue, not too yellow or orange, it just beams classic red. It has become so iconic because of its place among all the brand elements, which come together to tell a story – a story of positivity, happiness, a desire for adventure and a passion for life. Coca-Cola Red is even considered the brand’s second ‘secret formula.’”

Do you think Robert Woodruff created a second ‘secret formula’ with Coca-Cola Red?

The future’s red

“As we look to the future, the spirit of red that so inspired Robert Woodruff to adapt this now iconic shade to Coca-Cola endures.

“Red is a shade that transmits an aura of warmth and a reminder of inviting playfulness. A hue that comes from the heart, radiating positivity; imbuing us with energy, power and strength; fullness of experience; an infectious eagerness, a desire for adventure, a passion for life and the confidence to make our own unique mark on the world.

“We live for the promise of red and all of its rousing qualities. For while it is surely the colour of Coca-Cola, it is also the colour of life itself, and as such, how could we not reach out for red?”

Has International Colour Day put you in the mood to discover more about Coca-Cola Red? Here you can discover more about our move to full red packaging.