What does red mean in design?

Red is a powerful color, but that power can go in two very different directions. Learn the meaning of the color red and how it can affect your designs.

“My love is like a red, red rose,” wrote the famous 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns. And he’s right – red is the quickest shorthand to spell amore without letters. But there’s more to red than that.

As a designer, you know that colors have many meanings, but you may not know what they actually are. Here we explore some meanings of red and how to use it effectively in your designs.

The color of extremes.

Red has meanings on two different ends of the human emotional spectrum. It can symbolize passion and strength. There’s a reason why everything is red on Valentine’s Day — the color of love inspires people to strive for their romantic goals, for example.

But it’s not all hugs and kisses. Red is also a symbol of wrath and danger. Angry people often say they see this color, plus the Stop sign is red as well. While red can be positive or negative, it’s definitely the color of action. Red gets people moving, whether it’s towards the target of their passion or away from a risky situation.

A powerful design element.

You can use red to draw attention to important elements. For example, you can highlight information on posters in red, or use it in software UI design to warn the user about making an irreversible decision. To reiterate, red is an attention-demanding color that spurs people into action.

Remember, tho — a color’s shade can change its meaning. Bright tomato red is more aggressive than a berry pink. You need to consider the purpose of your design carefully before you choose what kind of red to use. Discover more tips to help improve your design projects.

Get your audience to spring into action with captivating red designs. Make everything from logos and icons to illustrations and poster art with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.