Red and Yellow Logos
April 26, 2005 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Why are all of the logos for major fast food chains red and yellow? Is this psychological, readable, an offshoot of McDonalds? The ones I have seen are McDonalds, Carl's, Wedy's, Burger King, In and Out, Sonic, KooKooRoo - I'm trying to find one that is not yellow/red.
posted by jonah to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I've heard that red makes people hungry, but I'm having trouble finding any documentation to support that assertion...
posted by knave at 7:58 AM on April 26, 2005


Subway?
posted by gaby at 7:58 AM on April 26, 2005


The lights show up better at night?
posted by mischief at 8:02 AM on April 26, 2005


KFC is white/red. Taco Bell is blue/white/yellow. Pizza Hut is red.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 AM on April 26, 2005


Interesting little related game: Fast Food Logos.

Damn, I'm quite hungry now... :)
posted by gaby at 8:04 AM on April 26, 2005


Subway looks to be yellow and white and green, I'm not so much looking for non yellow/red logos, but a reason why that scheme is so dominant.
posted by jonah at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2005


The Luscher Color Test is a good place to start. Color has direct physiological effects on the brain. Red increases pulse, blood pressure, and respiration. Blue does the opposite.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:11 AM on April 26, 2005 [1 favorite]


Ironically, yellow is often used by organisms to signal danger.
posted by orthogonality at 8:15 AM on April 26, 2005


Red increases pulse, blood pressure, and respiration. Blue does the opposite.

You obviously haven't read any of the political threads in the blue recently.
posted by grouse at 8:21 AM on April 26, 2005


Curiously: red and yellow seem to just be strong, attention getting colours. I don't know how much stock I put in that website though...
posted by gaby at 8:21 AM on April 26, 2005


Browns and "golden" colors tend to be the most appetizing. Although other colors can cue appeal, comfort foods in particular (warm, satisfying) should be in close proximity to brown (reds, oranges, yellows). However, brown is not seen as exciting or fun.

Red tends to cue appetizing and excitement. Vivid, warm colors like yellow and red supposedly cue speed and will cause people to eat faster, or at least give them the impression of speed.

The color green=healthy, natural, organic but surprisingly enough, not tasty. In fact, green tends to make people think it's good for you, but not delicious.

(Unfortunately, I have no research citation since I've gleaned this from focus groups, the design team at work and my snack food client.)
posted by Gucky at 8:27 AM on April 26, 2005


No doubt there have been a trillion focus groups and all the results have been stolen shared by the advertising industry. I suppose it all depends on what questions they are asked - I would think they've gone for the most eye catching - especially for logos/signs. I doubt they are trying to budge psychological feelings, as with say the color paint for the walls inside - they just want recognition and attention holding.
Good observation ortho. Heh.
posted by peacay at 8:33 AM on April 26, 2005


I heard somewhere that it's so patrons who decide to eat inside of the restaurant do so at a faster pace. Bright red and yellow aren't exactly pleasant and relaxing colors, so those who choose to sit down to eat won't stay long, this means increased turnover which means increased profits. Books like Fast Food Nation may have some more insight on the subject.
posted by benightedly_heedful at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2005


Ketchup and mustard.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 8:56 AM on April 26, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've heard that yellow is the color that can be seen from the longest distance (think taxi cabs).
posted by fletchmuy at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2005


White Castle. But I'm not sure how "major" they are.
posted by sad_otter at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2005


Is Long John Silvers still around? They were blue and white, right?
posted by thefinned1 at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2005


My feeling is that red and yellow can be seen from a long way off and instantaneously stand out from the environment. This is why Stop signs are red and yield signs are yellow. They are an immediate attention grabber for the eye because their purity of color generally does not exist in standard natural environments, which consist mostly of greens, browns and blues. Think about what colors animals use to indicate they are in heat or are courting - reds, yellows, oranges - bright and immediately contrasting with most of the environment around them.

If you are cruising down the road (and due to over-saturation of stores and strip malls this may no longer hold true - but back in the birth time of modern hiways it CERTAINLY held true) and you see something hugely red and yellow, you are not going to miss it. Think of every caution or alert signage in the human lexicon...they nearly all have red or yellow in them. Your eye can't avoid it.
posted by spicynuts at 9:27 AM on April 26, 2005


A&W is Brown, and Arby's is a sort of Orange.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:36 AM on April 26, 2005


From what I recall, *interior* designs of restaurants use "food" colours because it makes patrons enjoy their food more. Red plates, yellow tables, etc, etc. Blue, for example, would be a colour you ban from a restaurant because it makes people think "unedible/unsanitary".
posted by shepd at 10:44 AM on April 26, 2005


No doubt there have been a trillion focus groups and all the results have been stolen shared by the advertising industry. I suppose it all depends on what questions they are asked - I would think they've gone for the most eye catching - especially for logos/signs. I doubt they are trying to budge psychological feelings, as with say the color paint for the walls inside - they just want recognition and attention holding.

It's not that a small research study gets passed around the industry, it's that we get involved in research constantly and we get very, very consistent results on certain color families. (I would caution against blanket statements on "all orange" "all yellow" -- certain yellows are illegible. Certain yellows make people think of pee.) It's hard not to make generalizations when you dig through as much research as is generated by the industry. And very little of it is as simple as "That's a bright color. Pick that."

Every logo, every color scheme, every ad campaign, every alteration to a logo for all these chains goes through extensive research at every stage. They're not just asking "Which one do you look at first?" I wish we were. Focus groups wouldn't be 2 hours long each.

The psychology of it plays a huge part. That's actually all my job consists of -- creating the emotions brands are supposed to make you feel.

They (we) are using every trick in the book -- observational, emotionally digging, focus groups, one-on-one interviews -- to make sure the elements elicit as much tie back to the brand positioning (Does this make you feel like something you are "Lovin'"? Which one is "trustworthy"? Which one is "hearty"? Which one is "wholesome"?) and the desire to use (eat) the product.

Eye catching/attention getting is a small part of it. The problem with "attention getting" is something new and different is always attention getting. So why does everything look the same? If everyone was going for the exact same reaction, they'd all use the same colors, shapes and words. There's nuance -- both in the execution and the way the consumers receive it. (Thus, I'm employed.)
posted by Gucky at 10:50 AM on April 26, 2005


Interesting, thanks Gucky.
posted by jonah at 11:53 AM on April 26, 2005


Colour psychology is a really interesting area, something I've dipped my toe into but not really got any further. You've got some good answers there, but Googling under 'colour psychology' should get you some more.
posted by TheDonF at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2005


Bright red and yellow aren't exactly pleasant and relaxing colors, so those who choose to sit down to eat won't stay long, this means increased turnover which means increased profits.

This has never made much sense to me, and I'm starting to think it's an urban legend. After all, who has ever seen a standing-room-only fast food restaurant? And if so, does it really dissuade more people from coming in and ordering? You can get it to go!
posted by shannymara at 1:49 PM on April 26, 2005


Regarding a "standing room only" fast food restaurant, let me assure you, most In-and-Outs in my area are standing-room only from 11:30 to 2:00 pm, and again around 7 to 9 pm.

I second the "ketchup & mustard" theory, as that's the explanation I've always assumed. It's sort of a code, in that fast food joints pushing foods one typically decorates with ketchup and/or mustard (burgers, hot dogs, fries) get the red and yellow colors (Koo Koo Roo being an exception, but they have additional colors -- blue, I think -- in their logo), whereas fast food joints with products one usually enjoys sans ketchup or mustard avoid the red & yellow color scheme.

It could also be that the market leader (McDonalds) adopted those colors, and competitors have appropriated them to ride on the coattails.
posted by herc at 3:33 PM on April 26, 2005


AskMetafilter: good for you, but not delicious
posted by Eamon at 4:58 PM on April 26, 2005


Gucky you manipulator!
So, what should I have for lunch and what colour shirt says 'autumn' in a meaningful yet playful way?
posted by peacay at 8:20 PM on April 26, 2005


« Older Credit Unions in Northern Virginia   |   From the e to the i to the e to the i pi. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.