Red, steady, go!


Vodacom is now red and no longer blue. If you didn’t know that, welcome back from Jupiter because everyone here on Earth – or in South Africa at least – could hardly have missed this recent change in the cellphone market.

In the past few weeks the South African telecoms giant has gone to great lengths to tell the public – via the media and even by staging a huge fireworks display for 70 000 people at a party in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium – that they’re now being branded as red.

It has caused bit of a stir in the industry. But what’s so special about the colour? Humankind has been programmed over millions of years to react to red, brand expert Jannie Hofmeyr says.

Red is a rousing colour that increases the heartbeat and makes blood pressure rise. It can provoke a fight-or-flight reaction and spur us into action.

Restaurateurs use the psychology of colour when they paint their restaurants red – it makes customers feel more energetic so they eat more.

Considering the strong psychological effect colour has, we wonder whether the colour change will make Vodacom’s customers use their phones more frequently.

Psychologists worldwide have done much research on the effects of colour and advertisers use this information in their ad campaigns to attract customers. Although Vodacom changed its branding colour to link it to Vodafone, the change could certainly affect the cellphone giant’s profits too.

Until now Vodacom has appealed mostly to people over 50, a study shows. But with its vibrant new branding it comes across as more playful, daring and interesting and could appeal to a younger market.

Colour can change emotions, moods and even appetites, says Reinette Bester, owner of Pretoria-based ad agency Creative Piranha. “Studies have shown schoolchildren perform better in yellow classrooms, for example, and hospital patients tend to recover more quickly in blue rooms,” she says.

Perceptive shop owners know impulse-buyers are attracted to red, orange, black and royal blue, while those who prefer leisurely shopping feel more comfortable in pink, turquoise, light blue and navy blue environments.

“Companies spend a lot of time and money on an issue like colour,” local marketing wiz Jonathan Cherry says.

“There’s definitely a psychological correlation between colour and behaviour. Companies know this and marketers exploit it to sell. And who can blame them? We live in a consumerist age.”

Read more about how colours affect you in YOU, 28 April 2011.

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