Thursday, April 1, 2010

Little Blue Riding Hood?

Found this article last week and although its not new information it, provides an opportunity to think about the importance of red in fairy tales. From Marketing and the colour red:

So what does marketing have to do with one of the most common colours used in sport and on national flags? The answer is: everything! In brand conversations , colour matters. In a frenzied world where your advertising must shout loudest, red is the surest way to hit the decibel level, visually that is. Market research indicates that over 80% of all visual information is related to colour. Brands with legacy colour constructs like Marlboro and Coca-Cola take their colours very seriously. In fact, according to Cokelore, Santa Claus wore green until the cola giant began to promote Santa in red garb in the 1950s. [Not true, plenty of red Santas before Coke did it.]

But red’s popularity is its menace. Human predisposition for all things sangria red, candy apple, sassy cherry, crazy plum, raspberry glow and straight-up red, means more red in logos, packaging , web-sites and advertising. Take the telecom sector for instance, Vodafone, Virgin and Airtel, all scream red. When Hutch left, its pink stars left with it. However for Shripad Nadkarni of MarketGate Consulting at least Hutch had different colour point of view. “Colours have their own vocabulary. A brand must not associate itself with the entire spectrum of emotions the colour evokes,” he says. Problem of plenty particularly in new markets say design experts like Sujata Keshavan, MD, Ray & Keshavan. “Red is one of the most practically reliable and stable colours and no client rejects red. It is a mass colour and that’s a challenge. One can end up using the 134th shade of red.”

A colour, which one associates with all from Saint Valentine to Ernesto Guevara, marketers must use with caution. While the fiery colour works for Bono’s (Product) Red, the Red Cross and Red Bull and brands that want to send a strong message, it might not be suitable for a company in a slump. Although nowadays colours in marketing mainstream are hues of eco green, purity blue and calm pink, red still boasts some serious power when it comes to brands. For one it’s the quickest way to get eyeballs. Latika Khosla of Freedom Tree design says, “Red is an advancing colour. Marketers have traditionally used the colour because it conquers. However, if not used correctly it can cause dissonance and unwanted contrast.”

Now if only little Red Riding Hood had known what marketers know today the tale wouldn’t have had a Grimm end.

So the question is: Would Little Blue Riding Hood have been as effective a story? Red with the emotions and associations it induces is of course critical to the tale. Even in most of the pastiches of the tale, the red hood is rarely tampered with, sometimes the only recognizable element. Our ancestors knew this without market research. Weren't they a smart bunch?

1 comment:

  1. Red for sure is an evocative color, though I think nowadays the whole concept of the girl in the cloak in the woods is mysterious sounding enough, at the time of conception, the red was key, I think, to the story's success. At least, one of the keys.

    Interesting article!