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The Red World

'Pink is the new Black' was the statement that held true for a long long time (read months) in India. Soon however, it seems shades of red will take over this mantle.
There was a time when red was far from being the colour of choice for any outdoor media or promotion. The only company which banked on the positives of the colour 'red' was 'Eveready Batteries' with its catchy 'Give me Red!' campaign. Bringing to mind communism in all its forms, red was a colour that was not favored by companies or any other form, except of course the wedding trouseu - which just had to be red in most parts of India.

Perhaps the rebellion of the orange-loving Hippies was too close for comfort to be reminded of more shades of that vibrant hue in everyday life. Even 'Goldspot' the only orange fizzy drink of the 80's was discontinued despite its decent sales, and I have a strong suspicion it was because of its campaign - 'The Zing Thing'. 80's and 90's were a time to sit back, relax, and be solemn. It was a time to be 'elegant', 'quiet' and most of all, conservative. You kept your ambitions close, your outlook unadventurous and maintained your dignity.

Today however, red in all its glory has made a strong comeback. Billboards all through cities are vying for each people's attention, an what better way of making a strong impact than using a strong colour? Afterall, who will look twice at some company with a simple grey and white logo?

India is today a flourishing economy, and this is reflected by the advertisement we see all around us. Telecommunication and Banking are two industries which have gone all out after an era of repression and staidness are now splurging and trying to occupy user mind-space through strong Out-of-home media (OOH). It is a time to 'break-free' of the stoical outlook of the past two decades. Slowly the movement has gained momentum, and phased in through the times of 'Pink' in its many hues, Red is coming in.

Banks, hitherto known to be the establishments of conservatism, are now making their presence and change in philosophy felt through their advertising, and brand new, refurbished logos.
Gone are the days of matte blue and white logos with circles and dots signifying trust and long term security. SBI and Central Bank of India perhaps are the only remnants of that era. Today even 100 year old Bank of Baroda flashes its presence via the orange sun-glow lines around the huge 'B'. ING-Vysya bank was one of the first to introduce orange in Indian Banking with the Orange Lion. Most people would remember the television advertisement of saving the coin with 'orange' trust, or something thereabouts.

However, HSBC through its continued presence through all the years can be attributed with the colour red and white. Though of course, the red here is a small splash within the white, today, it seems to be more apparent in its many ads, where, is it my imagination, but red seems to be emphasised in other aspects.

ICICI bank was one of the first banks to combat the size of any other Govt bank, and it did so aggressively using the orange and white ICICI Bank logo. where the orange is closer to a shade of red than to Orange. HDFC came as an in-between, using its withe, blue and red combination - a bridge between the old and new, fresh, Indian yet International look. For a long time people could confuse it as an International bank, of the HSBC realm.
UTI bank uses a deep shade of red, quite burnished and clotted in colour, but today, after having been taken over by Axis Bank, it seems to have become a shade brighter and redder.
Punjab National Bank, as the name suggests, should be a staid national bank, but it also had a logo revamp and is a bright yellow 'P' of Punjabi in a deep red background. Now of course, it is Centurion Punjab Bank, and the logo will soon undergo another change.
Yes Bank used a red tickmark within its blue and white logo, while Dena Bank uses a red goddess outline within the staid Blue of its 'D'.
Canara Bank, with a complicated hand-holding-flower kind of logo perhaps remains the only with a large part of blue remaining, but you can see the usage of orange and red in all its OOH and other media promotions.
Withing international Banks, Deutche and Barclays remain with their distinctive blue and whites, but Citibank has already introduced the red 'bridge' between the two 'i's of blue.
Standard Chartered perhaps remains the only bank with a colout other than just blue on its logo - green. Its a refreshing change to see blue and green, albeit blue is a common colour, the combination with green makes is literally, a shade different.

Coming to communications, all broadband providers are red-oriented. As for telecom, Reliance is blue and red, Vodafone is red and white, Airtel too is red and white. Idea mobile service is perhaps the only one with a yellow in blue colour combination, but then its reach is not pan-India, and has few takers. Tata Indicom is a greenish-yellow within blue, but is definitely not as successful as the Reliance CDMA. Can that be attributed to its service, marketing push? Or to the absence of red? For, the 'Walky' with its red seems to be doing pretty good business.

Silouhettes with a splash of red are not an uncommon sight, true 'Sin City' style. Movies are cashing in on the red phenomenon. And nobody seems to tire of the 'red siren' typograph.

All in all it seems red is definitely 'in' and here to stay. Far from the 'danger' symbol, today it is the way to denote your presence and your eagernes to move ahead. Here I have taken mostly one sector, but the presence of red can be felt all over. Even in Government advertising.

Today Fanta has replaced Gold Spot, and is definitely living up to the 'zing' image of GoldSpot.

As for Eveready? Well, it still exists, but the "Give me Red!" uniqueness seems to have died a quiet death.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
17th Oct, 2007 12:24 (UTC)
we are writing for BE, are we? :D nice article, and MMA would be happy and will give u 10/10 for ACM assignment ;) (8 for the paper and 2 marks cuz he is biased! ) ;>
nice observations. just one thing i dont agree with is a) Idea is pan india and quite successful in its own league. And Indicom is more successful in the market it covers. Its just that the size of the competitors for both of them is so huge that they seem like loosers.
And , just a thought - whats the odds that one of the prime colour will feature in anything thats visible?
18th Oct, 2007 08:00 (UTC)
Re: :)
yeah its a prime colour, but how much of it did you see till a decade ago?

And banking is as conservative as you can get. Look at any other industry ad. They are red too.
Idea is still not pan-india, it has its pockets, though much higher penetration than before.
And success is afterall as some ppl say, 'relative'.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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