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THE SCIENCE OF PERSUASION

What All Successful Fast Food Brands Have in Common – Red!


Although there is no evidence that suggests McDonalds, Burger King or Pizza Hut chose their logo colours based on scientific research, they may have been onto something when they chose to incorporate the colour red!

Red is a vibrant and bold colour that grabs the attention of consumers as it increases the visual saliency of the logo. From a historical observation of logo development over the past century of different fast food brands, red has been a consistently popular choice of colour.

According to Neuro Design by Darren Bridger, “colours such as red evoke higher levels of emotional excitement.” It also suggests that red has an evolutionary explanation and has been used to denote a sign of warning. Warning signals cause the body to produce adrenaline and thus increase the heart rate. Cortisol levels spike which could possibly result in an increased craving of sugary, salty, fatty foods which many fast food outlets offer.

Other sources suggest that red evokes a sense of urgency and a call to action response. The concept of urgency ties in well with the objective of fast food brands to deliver food quickly and conveniently. As a result fast food outlets have extended on this objective by providing drive-thru services and speedy home delivery.

General research in colour psychology however, has created interest amongst marketers as they understand the importance colour plays in building brand identity. It can even increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent according to a study conducted by Loyola University Maryland.

Colour also plays an important part in influencing our moods and feelings, and thus the feelings evoked by a brand’s identity. A 2006 study from the journal of Management Decision found that between 62-90% of a person’s subconscious assessment was based on colour alone.

Understanding how the brain processes and interprets colour is a complex phenomenon and each individual’s emotional response is ultimately determined by their own experience and interaction with colours from childhood.

As explained in an Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience by Dr. T. Ramsoy (which, by the way, offers a great introduction into the field), humans see objects as a whole due to the process of visual cognition which occurs in the ventral temporal cortex of the brain. This includes processing of all features of an object, from colour and contrast to movement, so we view an object as a coherent whole.

Thus, marketers need to find the perfect balance of the overall design of a logo to provide consumers with a holistic presentation. They need to understand that colour itself cannot be the only deciding element when determining the effectiveness of a logo; as font and overall design must also be taken into consideration. But if you're a fast food brand, a little bit of red could go a long way in attracting, enticing and exciting your consumers.

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