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Behind the Red Door: How Our Name Came to Be

Culture / 02.10.2022
Reid Carr / Chief Executive Officer

"Where's your red door?" 

That’s the question we usually hear when guests visit our office and don't see a red door at the front. My go-to reply is, "Red Door is a state of mind."

My response sounds tongue in cheek, but there is truth to it. When we were brainstorming our agency name back in 2002, we weren’t interested in using a random word or set of words. Instead, we wanted our name to stand for something, to be memorable, and tangible — as any good brand does. And it needed to work for us well into the future. To focus our vision, we developed a creative brief with these key questions and answers:

Q: What do we want our name to signify?

A: Connectivity and positive, enduring relationships.

Q: What do we want to stand for, as an organization or collection of people?

A: We want to stand for openness, attention to detail, and welcoming others.

Q: Do we want to follow cultural trends or run counter to them?

A: We don’t want to follow naming trends that will fade in a few years.

Turning Away from Trends

At the time, we were in the middle of the dot-com bust, but the Web had started to become "a thing." Brands were open to producing their first websites and promoting themselves online. Companies were dependent on traditional advertising for outreach because, while people were using the internet more and more for research, brick-and-mortar was still commerce.

Many start-ups used made-up words for their name, intended to secure the all-powerful ".com" top-level domain (TLD). Companies snatched up these TLDs at an incredible pace – similar to the property rush in today’s metaverse. At the same time, many companies used what I consider "default names.” These names reflected circumstantial attributes like their location. Think: address number, dorm room number, neighborhood, or city.

Forming Our Name

We didn't want a "default" or unmemorable word-jumble of a name, just for the sake of a temporary situation, such as .com being the only TLD. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if .com were our only option today?

We explored many names that, at a basic level, at least checked off “tangible.” But none hit everything we needed. That is, until “Red Door” showed up on the white board. Red Door not only satisfied our brief — but our vision, too.

What “Red Door” Means

Red Door is about connections — between people and ideas, across old and new media, between businesses and brands seeking help online, and within departments in your business. Doorways are "openings" where new ideas, colleagues, and clients enter. A red door is a detail. Attention-to-detail in our business is critical. A red door is welcoming and friendly. And, if you ask us, houses with a red door always have the best Halloween candy.

Red doors are also culturally significant across the globe. In Ireland, red doors represent good luck (or historically, ward off evil spirits) to the homeowner. A red door signifies prosperity in ancient China and Japan.

Why "Interactive?"

That’s another question we get all of the time. Some people assume that "interactive" is synonymous with "digital” — but they are two very different concepts. While digital agencies push their marketing message out to customers, interactive agencies have conversations with customers. Simply put, we interact.

We chose the interaction route in response to the changing marketing landscape. Back in 2002, brands began to quickly shift from one-way broadcast -- spraying messages at buyers -- to a two-way dialog with fragmenting audiences. Brands needed to expect a conversation with customers and interact with their different audiences in tailored ways.

Sure, we could have used a different industry term, like "media" or "advertising," but we didn't want to limit our work. The Web was forcing a shift in our tactics, and it increased the need for a balance between technical expertise and marketing principles.

In the end, we settled on "Red Door" to define who we want to be and "Interactive" to establish how we intend to do what we do.

Locking in a Logo

As brand strategists, we know that a name is nothing without a strong logo. We wanted to pair our name with an optimistic symbol that conveys all that we stand for: openness, attention to detail, and welcoming others. Openness is critical when we go looking for new ideas and technologies. Details help us differentiate ourselves and show others that we care. Finally, being welcoming invites all walks of life into our agency — and that’s a beautiful thing.

RDI-Logos-Over-The-Years.jpg

A Door to the Future

Sitting where we are today on our 20-year anniversary, our name will serve us for the next 20 years and beyond. The relationships we have cultivated since the beginning are the foundation on which we will build our future.

We believe in being a part of our local community as well as contributing to the industry more broadly. Since we started, the Web has evolved to transform how we connect, engage, and interact with one another, it has created new opportunities and yielded greater exposure. It has opened our world in ways we had never envisioned, so with our door, eyes, and hearts wide-open, we look forward to what innovations and connections await us on the other side.

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