Whats in a Color? Meanings Across BordersThis article was originally published on the Acclaro blog.Category: CultureWhats ...
BLACK & WHITEIn Western cultures, black is associated with death, evil, and eternity. In some Eastern cultures,however, it...
About Acclaro: Acclaro is an international translation and localization company thathelps the world’s leading brands succe...
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Whats In A Color

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Whats In A Color

  1. 1. Whats in a Color? Meanings Across BordersThis article was originally published on the Acclaro blog.Category: CultureWhats your favorite color?Colors, like words, do not carry universal meaning. We all have different reactions to varioustones and shades depending on how and where we were raised, our past experiences with it,and our set of preferences — which can change inexplicably.The fact is colors carry a lot of meaning — but that meaning varies drastically across languages,cultures, and national borders. If you are aware of some of these differences, you will be able toavoid embarrassing cultural mistakes when referring to and using colors among colleagues,friends, and clients — and it will help you to market your product effectively in global markets.Below, a simple guide to three colors around the world.Page 1: Whats in a Color? Meanings Across Borders Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  2. 2. BLACK & WHITEIn Western cultures, black is associated with death, evil, and eternity. In some Eastern cultures,however, it often carries the opposite meaning; in China, black is the signature color for youngboys, and is used in celebrations and joyous events.White, on the other hand, symbolizes age, death, and misfortune in China and in many Hinducultures. Across both East and West, however, white typically represents purity, holiness, andpeace.BLUEBlue is often considered to be the "safest" global color, as it can represent anything fromimmortality and freedom (the sky) to cleanliness (in Colombia, blue is equated with soap). InWestern countries, blue is often seen as the conservative, "corporate" color.However, be careful when using blue to address highly pious audiences: the color hassignificance in almost every major world religion. For Hindus, it is the color of Krishna, andmany of the gods are depicted with blue-colored skin.For Christians, blue invokes images of Catholicism, particularly the Virgin Mary. Jewish religioustexts and rabbinic sages have noted blue to be a holy color, while the Islamic Quran refers toevildoers whose eyes are glazed with fear as ‫ زرق‬zurq, which is the plural of azraq, or blue.ORANGEThanks to the World Cup this summer, the world was reminded of the Dutch obsession withorange. (Orange is the national color of the Netherlands and the uniform color of the soccerteam.)On the other side of the world, however, orange has a slightly more sober meaning: withinHinduism, orange carries religious significance as the color for Hindu swamis. ThroughoutSoutheast Asia, Theravada Buddhist monks also wear orange robes.So before you starting talking enthusiastically talks about your color preference to foreignfriends or colleagues, you may want to find out more about that color and its culturalsignificance.Also, be aware of color choices as they relate to your company’s campaign copy and graphics —whether it be printed collateral, a website, or advertising campaign. Know your target marketand their respective color conventions so you don’t inadvertently send the wrong message.For more colors (e.g., red, green) you can read our complete article: The Meaning of ColorsAcross Borders. We also recommend this useful visual representation by Information isBeautiful.Page 2: Whats in a Color? Meanings Across Borders Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  3. 3. About Acclaro: Acclaro is an international translation and localization company thathelps the world’s leading brands succeed across cultures. We translate websites,marketing campaigns, documents and software to give clients an authentic voice inkey language markets. North America: 1-866-468-5106 Worldwide: +1-914-468-0222 www.acclaro.com sales@acclaro.comPage 3: Whats in a Color? Meanings Across Borders Copyright © Acclaro 2012

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