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I am in the process of designing a nice OPEN sign, and I noticed that the vast majority of them are red. This seems bizarre to me, yet green open signs look odd. I just wondered if anybody knew why red seems to be the chosen colour.

To clarify, I am talking about an OPEN sign which will be placed in a sandwich board and stand outside a shop. But it can refer to any sign that indicates a retail establishment is open for business. I would also like to use the image on the website, though obviously in a smaller size, to be shown during the opening times.

Here is a for instance:

Open sign

If you Google "open sign" and look at the images, you will see that the most common colour is red. The green ones you see tend to be signs instructing you to push to open. The most common sign for open for business is red.

closed as primarily opinion-based by DA01, Graham Herrli, Erics, Matt Obee, Benny Skogberg Jan 31 '14 at 10:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I've made the question clearer and added an example. How do I flag this as no longer being on hold? – Relaxing In Cyprus Jan 25 '14 at 14:47
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    @DominicLloyd With the edit, this question still appears rather opinion-based, and thus is likely to remain closed. Is there anything more specific, demonstrable, or actionable you want to know about the sign? – Graham Herrli Jan 26 '14 at 0:45
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    Brandon, you are quite right. If you google "open sign" and look at the images, you will see that the most common colour is red. The green ones you see tend to be signs instructing you to push to open. The most common sign for open for business is red. I really don't see how I can be any clearer than that. – Relaxing In Cyprus Jan 26 '14 at 20:50
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    I posted on Cogsci and got a very good answer within an hour, so thank you for the suggestion @RedSirius cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/5527/… – Relaxing In Cyprus Jan 27 '14 at 13:12
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it was cross posted and answered here: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/5527/… – DA01 Jan 31 '14 at 3:46
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I've been thinking about this all day and then it kind of hit me. This may sound simple and I have no scientific references or anything, but if you think in terms of a traffic light, you have green for go and red for stop. Same with a stop sign. So our brains are trained to stop when we encounter red lights and red signs. So with that reasoning, I think the reason that so many Come in we're open signs are red is that your brain interprets that as:


STOP!

Come in. We're OPEN!

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The majority of the light that we see (and have evolved to be sensitive to) is in the cyan/green/chartreuse area of the visible spectrum.

Sensitivity to visible light

Even though we are sensitive to these colors, habituation causes us to not process ambient stimuli containing them (just like how we don't process the sound of a fan in our room). However, our eye will be drawn to man-made objects that capitalize on the colors on the far sides of this spectrum (think of how well neon red & blue open signs grab your attention regardless of the ambient light).

All of this is totally dependent on the environment, though. If you're in some kind of district that is lit with red light, a green light will probably grab your attention.

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