For this episode, I look at one of my favourite shades of red – Coca-Cola red.

The company’s iconic shade originated in the 1890’s. A founding partner, Frank Mason Robinson, liked the contrast of using only red and white for posters and signage (he was also the one who developed the Coca-Cola script logo). Robinson’s early decision to consistently use red was instrumental in establishing the visual identity of one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Later on, the company introduced the red disc emblem which becomes an iconic shape for its signage, many of which go on to become collector’s items. And from the mid-1900’s, the company began painting its shipping barrels red so that tax agents would not mistake them as alcohol during transport.

For all of its uses, the colour’s formula was taken very seriously. The company was one of the first brands to develop visual standards manuals, which included paint specifications. In those days, when signage and posters were hand-painted, the Coca-Cola red is said to have been a blend of 3 different red paint colours.   

Today in brand colour theory, red is often said to increase our heart rate and evoke strong emotions such as excitement and passion. How much of that modern theory is influenced by Coca-Cola’s brand history – we can only speculate.