Colors like symbols have specific meanings associated with them. Since the times immemorial civilizations have made use of colors for manifesting emotions. Different cultures have varying connotations for colors. So while you are marketing a wider target audience worldwide understanding various cultural color implications would help conveying your message. Moreover over the years the ideas related to colors’ psychology have changed. Many eastern societies have adopted the western ideas and vice versa. Here I am listing some colors’ inferences as used in different societies.
Usually the color “red” is associated with energy, passion, warning or danger. It is also called the color of “love”. In Eastern societies, red connotes good luck, this is the reason it is worn by brides in India and Pakistan. In Western culture, red combined with green implicates the feeling of “joy” or “celebration”. Whereas in eastern culture, the same inference is taken when red is combined with white. In China “Red” is the most versatile color that is worn on weddings and funerals alike. It is the “color of festivity”, therefore most of the celebrations in China including the New Years’ Eve are “red themed”. In India red is the color of “beauty, fertility and wealth”. In Japan red symbolizes “life and anger”. Australians take red as a ceremonial color.
The color range signifies fun, friendship, happiness and autumn. It is also the color of optimism and communication.The negative implications of this color include pessimism and showiness. In Western cultures “orange” is the color associated with affordable items or comfort. It is also the “Halloween color”. Eastern cultures take “orange” color as a sign of happiness and spirituality. It is the color symbolizing religion in Ireland. The Irish flag has it along with green and white. In India, mild orange is considered a sacred color. In Netherlands “orange” is an exclusive color used by the Dutch Royal family. Orange is also the color of “youth, heat and energy”. This is the reason most of the youth’s products we come across have orange color tones.
Being the symbol of hope, comfort and caution yellow is one of the most striking colors. In the Western societies, “yellow” represents joy and optimism. The negative implications include cowardice. It is also used strongly as a color of “warning”. In eastern cultures yellow signifies imperialism and purity. In China “yellow” shows masculinity, honor and royalty. In India and Thailand “yellow” is the sacred color. It is taken as the color of Buddhism and represents wisdom. In Egypt and Burma it is the color of sorrow. In Japan yellow implicates courage, joy and beauty. In France wearing yellow means you are jealous. Yellow is also known as the color of cleanliness, therefore the retailers use yellow color schemes for hygiene products’ packaging to make them compelling for the onlookers.
Also known as the color of nature, “green” connotes life, money, health, luck and security. In the West “green” is taken as the color of good luck, spring, Saint Patrick’s Day and Christmas. In East this color is representative of new life and optimism. In USA “green” implicates money or jealousy. In China green is taken as the color of fertility, exorcism and new life. Its’ negative connotations include disgrace. In India and Pakistan it is the color of Islam, virtue and hope. Japanese wear green to show youthfulness and eternal life. In Ireland “green” implies Catholics’ population. In Egypt it is the color of spring. In Middle East and Saudi Arabia “green” is emblem of luck, prestige, fertility and religion. Brighter tones of green color are used for conveying the meanings of safety. This explains why banks and most of the pharmaceutical companies use green themes for their logos.
One of the favorite colors of people around the world, blue implies calmness, authority, stability and nature. Western societies take “blue” as the color of peace, trust and baby boys. The negative meanings associated with “blue” include depression. In the East blue represents immortality and generally taken as the color of females. In India “blue” is the color of Lord Krishna. In Japan it is the color of life. In Korea it is the opposite, blue symbolizes mourning. In Belgium baby girls wear blue. In Egypt and Middle East it is symbol of protection. Different religions have varying blue color implications, in Christianity, it is the Jesus’ color, in Judaism it represents purity and in Hinduism it is taken as the Lord Krishna’s color. Blue has very strong political meanings attached to it. In USA, UK, European politics it is used for manifesting moderation and conservativeness.
The color of creativity, purple generally signifies fun, femininity and royalty. In the West purple is the color symbolizing fame, wealth, authority (particularly military). Eastern cultures also take purple as the color of prestige. In India, it is used as a manifestation of sorrow and comfort. In Thailand purple is worn by the widows. In Brazil too, it implies sorrow and death. In Europe and Japan purple color is used to show off wealth, royalty and honor. Opulence of luxury and wealth are represented through “purple”. It is also one of the preferred celebrity colors.
The symbol of purity, peace and salvation, white has more multicultural contexts than any other color. In the West white is the color perceived with weddings, spirituality and angels. In the East however, white is worn for funerals and death. It is the color of sorrow. In China white implies humility, purity and bad luck. In India white is used for expressing sorrow, usually worn at the death of close family members, relatives and friends. In Japan white is taken in the similar context. In Thailand and Korea, white color signifies purity, innocence and morality. The strongest universal implication of white is birth and death. This connotation is vividly used in the movies for conveying a certain message to the audience.
The color of mystery, darkness, power and simplicity. Black used to have more negative implications. However in the recent times black is becoming the color of attitude and fashion. In the Western societies, black is used as a symbol of power, mourning and rebellion. In East it signifies wealth and success. Indian people use black color for showing darkness, negativity and anger. Japanese take black as the color of night and mystery. Thai people associate black color with unhappiness and evil. Judaism has similar inferences regarding this color. In Africa, black represents wisdom. Australians merrily use black in their art designs. It is also worn on festivities there. The most explicit meanings of black are power and strength, which is why corporate world use this color for branding.
This color represents practicality, comfort, elegance and sensuality. Also called the color of “earth” brown connotes richness and comfort. In the Western societies, it is the color signifying stability, humbleness and nature. In the East especially in India it is taken as the color of sorrow. In Nicaragua, it shows displeasure. Chinese consider brown as the earthly color in their horoscopes. For its strict association with nature, brown is widely used for organic products’ packaging as the target audience is more likely to perceive the product “natural”.
The color of femininity, love, fun and youth, pink is becoming a hot favorite color in fashion industry. The Western culture associates this color with care, romance and love. In both Eastern and Western societies pink is a feminine color. In Europe pink is worn by the baby girls however conversely in Belgium it is the color for baby boys. In Japan pink is popular with both the genders. In Korea pink symbolizes trust. Being the color of women breast cancer organizations and NGO’s working for women’s issues use this color in their logos and manifestos. The brands catering to women products also prefer pink for their packaging designs.
If you know some more meanings related to the colors mentioned above, feel free to enlighten us in the comments below!