Colors mean completely different things to people from various parts of the world.

Colors, in contrast, are beautiful perceptions of how we vision the world. You probably have your favorite colors you like the most, and associate those colors with a meaning to your life. So as with the billions of people around the world. People from different walks of life around the world have symbolic meaning to how they perceive colors. Your favorite colors may be your friend’s favorite too — how cute! But it might mean somewhat to another culture elsewhere.

My World Of Many Colors

The color red is often associated with ‘danger,’ and its often used to indicate places or things dangerous, like warning signs or places off limits to people. You strongly might agree with that, but wait until its Valentine’s Day, then you’ll realize that red seems to be the color of love, and all places labeled with red is now where people want to hangout for fun. Colors vary in terms of what we think they mean to us.

The color yellow, also, for instance, in most parts of North America, is instantly associated with the sun, school buses, and happy emojis. It symbolizes cheerful, upbeat, and energizing. But if you plan on painting your living room yellow to give your visitors an uplifting spirit, you better not invite your French or Chinese friends over. They perceive yellow differently.

In France, yellow symbolizes jealousy, envy, betrayal, weakness, disappointment, and contradiction. In the 10th century, the French painted the doors of traitors and criminals yellow. Whereas in China, yellow is associated with pornography. When the Chinese use the term ‘yellow picture’ or ‘yellow book,’ its in reference to pornographic images and websites. Meanwhile, most people from parts of Africa or Thailand might think you’re wealthy. Yellow is often associated with royalty or authority.

The Colors Of Our World

It is not only single colors that people find a meaning to, but the use of several colors collectively is what counts. Here’s a sample list (or see this chart for a deep insight):

Image: Unsplash / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • White: Westerner’s often associate white with purity or novelty, and its traditionally worn at weddings and parties. However, in some Asian countries white represents death, mourning, and bad luck, and its traditionally worn at funerals, according to the stock photo site Shutterstock.
  • Black: North Americans tend to see black as either sophisticated or grim, but in Africa, the color is generally associated with maturity and masculinity, and in West Africa, black is worn at funerals as a final tribute to the dead.
  • Blue: In the West, its traditionally a boy’s color, whereas in China, its associated with femininity.
  • Pink: On the other hand, its a typical girl’s color in the United States, but in Latin America, its usually painted on buildings, hence its associated with architecture. The Chinese didn’t have any symbolism to pink before western influences came to the country. Its still called “the foreign color.”
  • Purple: Also in the West, its generally associated with both royalty and spirituality, but in Brazil and Thailand, purple is the color of mourning.

Different Colors, Different People

Image: Flickr / Colors of Rajasthan | Jal Mahal | Jaipur

Its quite fascinating to learn about what colors mean. Its breathtaking, but can pose problems for artists, designers, and marketing agencies who want their products and services to reach people around the world.

It was speculating that, Pepsi-Cola saw a decline in sales in Southeast Asia, and had to rebrand it’s coolers from dark to an icy blue color in the 1950s, which was associated with death in some parts of that region. EuroDisney withdrew on the purple in it’s branding because the Catholic Church associates the color with the crucifixion instead of a merry making day.

Finally, if you’re looking forward to making an enterprise with your favorite colors — either personal or corporate — you have to keep in mind that your palette would be perceived differently by people from different parts of the world; and, If you’re looking forward to communicating globally, take varying color interpretations into account, too.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Jan 06, 2019.



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