Branding , Yes& General

Seeing Red?

Grace Nowak

maintaining brand identity in the digital world can be challenging

Marketing professionals understand the importance of maintaining consistent branding across social channels. As we work to manage our own agency branding at Yes&, we have the support of meticulous and exacting designers who create content that 1) matches the Yes& brand and 2) conveys the right messages. Yet despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t come off looking quite right.

Recently, we’ve noticed that the quality of our Yes& branded graphics haven’t been as crisp as we would like when uploaded to social platforms. Our red ampersand graphic has appeared grainy, especially when enlarged. What’s going on?


The Investigation 

Resisting the urge to panic, the marketing team investigated the problem. Was there an issue with our files? We took a close look. Nothing seemed amiss. Perhaps we were dealing with a bigger, unknown problem?

Eager to close the loop on this mystery, we spiraled head-first down the rabbit hole. When we analyzed recent posts across platforms, we observed that graphics appeared pixelated when using the color red. The issue wasn’t with our logo. We had a bigger problem: red graphics across the board.

To determine if this was a common issue, we explored other brands that frequently use red in their branding. Bingo! Brands we commonly associate with the color red, such as Target, Coca-Cola, Pinterest, and Netflix, had the same issue in their social posts. Even brands like Google and the Olympics, whose logos incorporate several colors, had more distinct graininess when red appeared in their social media graphics.

What does "the red problem" teach us and what do we still need to learn?

It’s common knowledge that social media platforms compress files, which always look a bit grainy once posted. But why is it more pronounced with red? And how could major players in branding not notice?

The root cause of “the red problem” remains a mystery. Seeing the problem persist across major brands leads us to believe the answer is complex. Although there is no scholarly research on the perception of red on digital platforms, it’s a hot topic in online forums. Other marketers are similarly perplexed. A leading theory posits that the pixelation problem has to do with the way our eyes perceive red. Another theory points to the contrast between red and surrounding colors.

We don’t claim expertise in color theory, but we are experts in branding. Clearly, this issue goes beyond the perception of red. When it comes down to it, a few pixels in a red graphic might seem like a small thing, but building a brand is all about little things coming together to form a bigger identity. In the world of digital marketing and social media, the tiniest details can make a big impact.

“The red problem” is a reminder that digital challenges are universal. No brand, no matter how large, is immune to the quirks of digital marketing. To be sure, brands big and small are seeing red when it comes to the pesky nuances of adapting to a digital landscape. As the marketing industry continues to move online, understanding these subtleties will be key to ensuring that our brand vision is pixel-perfect.

here are some examples:


Meta logo vs Pinterst logo on LinkedIn



Olympics social media graphic


Pepsi vs Coca-Cola social media graphics

A red and white logo
Description automatically generated

Grainy Ampersand social graphic





Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

Let’s talk about what the power of "&" can do for you.

Grace Nowak
Marketing Coordinator