Posted By P & L Blog

Frank Sinatra

Was Frank Sinatra right when he said that "orange is the happiest color"?  You probably wouldn't agree with him if you were a Catholic in Northern Ireland where the color has long been associated with Protestant loyalists.  The colors you use in your overseas marketing materials may send the wrong message if you don't know what they mean locally. 

Black is not always the color of mourning.  Koreans, Vietnamese and Chinese associate white with death and grief, and Indians may wear white after a family member dies.  

Thinking of going green? Westerners equate it with eco-friendly products, but it translates to a symbol of sickness in some Asian countries.   Some Colombians think it is just plain ugly.

We use red in warnings and alerts, but brides in China wear red wedding dresses because the color signifies joy and good fortune.  The Chinese word for red sounds like "hong", the word for prosperous. 

Diana Vreeland, a former editor of Vogue, said that pink is "the navy blue of India" because it is so widely worn.  It brings to mind Hello Kitty, Barbie and those ubiquitous pink ribbons in the U.S.  But pink may not be a safe choice: pink roses symbolize suffering and even death in Greek mythology, and pink beads represent poverty to Zulus.

As for orange, in feng shui it represents organization and concentration. For Hindus, it is a sacred color word by swamis. Orange is said to stimulate mental activity because it increases oxygen supply to the brain.  It reminds me of safety cones, Halloween, and anything cheap. How does it make you feel?

 

 

Xerox's International Color Guide can prevent you from making serious cultural blunders.

 

 

 Photo by Lewy. Licensed by Creative Commons.

 

 

 
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