It?s a Colorful World: The Meaning of Coloration Across Borders

As children, we are often asked ?what?s your preferred color?? We thought that our color choice says a lot about who we have been, understanding that the questioner will immediately understand its meaning.

But colors, like words, usually do not carry universal meaning. We all have different reactions to several tones and shades depending on how and where i was raised, our past experiences by it, and our list of preferences ? which, like children, can change inexplicably.

The simple truth is colors carry a good deal of meaning ? but that meaning varies drastically across languages, cultures, and national borders. If you are aware of many of these differences, you will be able to prevent embarrassing cultural mistakes when discussing and using colors among colleagues, friends, and clients ? and it'll allow you to market your product effectively in global markets.

Below, a simple guide to five colors all over the world.


In Western cultures, black is assigned to death, evil, and eternity. In some Eastern cultures, however, would seem impossible to carries the other meaning; in China, black will be the signature color for young boys, which is utilized in celebrations and joyous events.

White, alternatively, symbolizes age, death, and misfortune in China as well as in many Hindu cultures. Across both East and West, however, white typically represents purity, holiness, and peace.


Red is probably the strongest colors, and its particular meanings in many cultures run deep:

China - Celebration, courage, loyalty, success, and luck, amongst others. Used often in ceremonies, then when combined with white, signifies joy.

Japan - The traditional color to get a heroic figure.

Russia - Representative with the Communist era. For this reason, it is suggested to be extremely careful when using this in Eastern European countries.

India - Purity, so wedding costumes will often be red. Also the colour for married women.

United States - Danger (think "red light!") and used in in conjunction with other colors for holidays, such as Christmas (green) and Valentine's Day (pink).

Central Africa - Red is often a colour of life and health. But in other areas of Africa, red is often a hue of mourning and death. To honor this, the Red Cross changed its colors to green and white in South Africa and other regions of the continent.


Blue is usually considered to become the "safest" global color, as it can represent anything from immortality and freedom (heaven) to cleanliness (in Colombia, blue is equated with soap). In Western countries, blue is usually considered the conservative, "corporate" color.

However, be careful when using blue to address highly pious audiences: the color has significance in nearly all major world religion. For Hindus, it will be the color of Krishna, and several with the gods are depicted with blue-colored skin. For Christians, blue invokes images of Catholicism, especially the Virgin Mary. Jewish religious texts and rabbinic sages have noted blue being a holy color, even though the Islamic Qur'an describes evildoers whose eyes are glazed with fear as زرق zurq, which could be the plural of azraq, or blue.


Until natural foods companies started marketing green beverages as healthy and good-tasting, many Western people thought green food was poisonous. Today, green is known as a more positive color. American retailers are leveraging the environmental movement to market eco-friendly goods, often using green-themed packaging or ad campaigns to point a product's compliance with "green" standards. Not so in China and France, where studies have indicated that green is not a good choice for packaging.


If the Dutch have everything to say about this, the World Cup will likely be flooded with many different orange this summer. (Orange may be the national colour of the Netherlands as well as the uniform hue of the country's famous football team.)

On lack of of the world, however, orange carries a a little more sober meaning: within Hinduism, orange carries religious significance as along with for Hindu swamis. Throughout Southeast Asia, Theravada Buddhist monks also wear orange robes.

So before your inner child enthusiastically discusses your color preference to foreign friends or colleagues, you might get more info like to find out more about that color and it is cultural significance. Also, be mindful of color choices since they connect with your company?s campaign copy and graphics ? may it be printed collateral, an internet site, or advertising. Know your marketplace and their respective color conventions which means you don?t inadvertently send an unacceptable message. We recommend this useful visual representation by Information is Beautiful.

Oh one more thing, the most popular colors at Acclaro are blue and orange.

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