Reddie Red

What is Reddie Red? For that matter, how do you even distinguish a color from another? You can’t really describe a color without showing somebody. It sounds like a silly question, but what I’m really asking is, has Reddie Red always been the exact same shade and has Henderson always been the home of the Reddies?
According to the 2021/2022 Henderson brand toolkit, the red that’s associated with the university is known as PMS 201 C. PMS stands for Pantone matching system, and is the industry standard for identifying colors. Think of the paint chips you’d grab at your local paint store. The hex value of Reddie Red is 9D2235, the RGB is 157/34/53 and for CMYK you’d use 7/100/68/32.
This may sound like gibberish, but it’s more important to the university than you might think.
“Henderson does not pay to use a Pantone color,” said Tina Hall, vice chancellor of advancement. “Pantone 201 is used by a number of universities and companies.”
One could assume that a university’s colors would not change that often. I mean, what’s wrong with the red(s) we had before? It’s not like they expired or suddenly became ugly. But, from year to year there can be a slight change in the red that’s classified as Reddie Red.
“Paintings in early yearbooks show the red to be a true red and not a shade of maroon or burgundy,” said Dr. David Sesser, Henderson’s university historian.
In a 2014 PDF entitled “Visual Identity and Brand Standards,” the RGB is 169/29/54 while it’s still classified as PMS 201 C. It has a CMYK value of 23/100/79/15. Pantone is known for never changing, so how can 2014’s Reddie Red differ from today’s?
Well, there are a number of different reasons, but it mostly comes down to the fact that Pantones can act as umbrellas for several very similar shades and that both these shades of red will bring up Pantone 201. Yet, if you place them side by side, you can still see a difference. Albeit a miniscule one.
It really is impossible to get every shade of red on campus to be uniform, obviously. A Henderson sweatshirt is going to be slightly different from the football jerseys, and even more different from the shiny letters on top of the Garrison. But this can present a slight headache for those in marketing and those who create graphics for the school with a heart.
If you create a video or poster using the current shade of red and somehow find yourself switching to the 2014 red, this can cause an eyesore as the two similar shades clash.
And then there’s the Pantone system, which generally gives two options for every shade. Coated and uncoated (C and U.) This subtle difference can really change the way a color looks. Pantone 201 C, which the university uses, is not interchangeable with Pantone 201 U.
According to Sesser, the original colors that represented Arkadelphia Methodist College (Henderson’s name at the time) weren’t even red and gray at all. They were pink and cream. The colors were used during an 1896 intercollegiate debate contest. The red and gray can be traced back to 1905.
“Before OBU or Henderson ever existed, two baseball teams played in Arkadelphia in the late 1870s,” said Sesser. “The teams were named the Red Jackets and Ouachita. We have no evidence that these names were later selected by either college due to their use by these teams and it just seems to be a coincidence.”
The old story goes that Henderson got their “mascot” of the Reddies after the team was called the Red Jackets and even the Red Men. The name Red Jackets is credited to Nellie Hartsgeld in 1908. It was shortened to Red by writers of the time, but the name Reddies prevailed in the end as it sounded the best in cheers and chants.
“Two theories exist as to how red came to be the primary color of the university,” said Sesser. “Although there is little to no evidence readily available to support either.”
One involves confederate soldiers, and the other involves American Indians. There is scant evidence for either theory, but they are both interesting ideas of how the university got its color scheme.
“If the idea was to honor Confederate soldiers, gray should be the primary color used by the university,” Sesser said. “The best evidence that red references American Indians is when Henderson-Brown College and Hendrix College merged in 1929. The mascot of the new college was the Red Warrior, replacing the bulldog. The red in the name only lasted a short period, but Hendirx continues to be known as the Warriors.”
So next time you say that you bleed Reddie Red, think about what that really means. Just as the college has gone through its fair share of name changes, it has also seen an evolution in its school colors.
From pink and cream of 1896 to the maroonish red and gray we know today.
“With all that said,” Sesser said. “It is unlikely that we will ever really know exactly how the color red came to be so closely associated with Henderson.”