Colors have great significance in different cultures and corners of the globe. Look at road signs, national flags, and advertising for example. Were colors chosen by accident, or is there a deeper meaning behind them in various countries? In this article, we will explore a variety of colors that hold cultural significance in different parts of the world, and decode the meaning behind them.
Colors are extremely important because they play a big role in how we perceive our surroundings. They’re visually stimulating, which is why our brain is capable of quickly making connections. Color also plays a major role in how we view images or scenes across different cultures. Some colors have special meaning and are symbols in certain countries. Knowing what these colors mean can help in international marketing campaigns.
If a color is a symbol of a negative connotation in a certain culture, you should avoid using it if you want to have a positive emotional effect on your audience. Because of the importance of color symbolism in various cultures, many marketing companies pay close attention to what they use in international marketing and advertising. Knowing about the meaning of colors around the world will help build your stock photo portfolio that brands can use in their advertising.
Colors are used in warning flags and signs, for example, at beaches. Uniforms worn at international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, take the meaning behind colors into account. Interior decorators also consider color when designing, because it directly affects our mood and perception. It is also an important factor in uniforms worn by emergency services and uniforms worn by school children, which promotes unity across the school.
Meaning of colors in different countries
Knowing these varying meanings across different cultures is useful when creating visuals for a stock image portfolio. Red will be more popular in China, for example, than in the Western world. It is always important to consider color when photographing objects, street views, and people. Color has a large impact on how people interpret images.
- Red – Red roses are a symbol of love and passion, as is a red heart. However, red is a common color used to represent danger. Traffic lights use red to mean ‘danger’ In China, red is a common color that represents luck
- Orange – Is a symbol of warmth, coziness, fun, friendliness, and creativity. It is often associated with youth and having fun. In Western cultures, orange color is associated with autumn and Halloween. However, in Hindi communities, it represents humility and happiness, and is a sacred color. Buddhist monks wear orange clothing that symbolizes this sacred meaning
- Yellow – Often symbolizes sunshine, childhood, happiness. It can also represent danger, being a coward, and lying
- Green – Is universally accepted to represent a natural environment. Actions and ideas that benefit nature are usually referred to as green. In China, men refrain from wearing green hats as it can be a symbol of having a wife who is cheating on them. In Islamic countries, green is a sacred color
- Blue – Often a symbol of being calm and serene. In the West, it represents sadness and depression. It can also be a representation of security and strength, which is why it is used by Facebook and many Western banks. For Catholics, blue is the color of Virgin Mary. In Hindi countries, blue is the color of Krishna
- Purple – Most used as a symbol for royalty and nobility. Purple can represent fame. Also, it is significant in paying respect to magic, spirituality, and mystery. It is worn at funerals in Brazil and Thailand
- Black – In Western countries, it symbolizes death and evil, but also elegance, power, and strength. It is a good color in design, because it is strong and neutral
- White – Often symbolizes peace. It is a calm and neutral color, which is why it is also good for designs. It can represent being pure and delicate. However, in Asian countries, it is a symbol of death and mourning
Expressing yourself with color in photography and design can be impactful. It can also spread a subliminal message about your brand, depending on the cultural significance of the color in a given country. You need to take color symbolism into consideration when working on an international scale. The above mentioned explanations will help you decide which colors to use in your next project, and understand how they might affect your audience.