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Best Practices for Graphic Designers, Color Works by John Cantwell, Eddie Opara

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Colours in Culture Chart by David
McCandless condenses the portrayal
of color cross-referencing 10 cultures
and 62 attributes around the world into
a fitting dynamic infographic
Consumers look toward colors in purchasing goods.
80 percent of consumers believe that color increases
brand recognition; this high value reinforces the
confidence within brand by consumers. When buying
a product, 85 percent of consumers purchased the
product because of the color.
The Cultural
Significance
of Color
fig. 001
164 Color Works The Foundation
6.2
The Cultural Significance of Color
Color is a symbolic decision, and its perception can be dependent on
the context. There are also many symbolic and ritualistic affinities to
particular colors. For example, holidays such as Halloween and Christmas
are associated with particular colors, as are causes such as Breast
Cancer Awareness. These colors have built-in emotional triggers.
But what happens to color and it symbolic value within different cultural
contexts?
When talking about color in customs, one normally talks about different
countries. But designers must also consider alternative cultures such
as religion, class, gender, and age groups, and understand that each
cultures perception of color differs. Designers must thoroughly inves-
tigate how these colors are used so as to not offend and to avoid ill
intention and negative issues for the client.
The following color matrix shows the symbolic use of color globally, and
through emotional behavior and status.
Cultural (by countries)
Cultural (by countries)
Red Yellow Blue
Psychological
Psychological Psychological
Cultural (by countries)
Beauty, Blood, Christmas,
Comfort, Courage,
Energy, Enthusiasm,
Excitement, Heat, Love,
Passion, Power, Sacrifice
Aggression, Anger, Battle,
Cruelty, Danger, Death,
Failure, Hunger, Immortal-
ity, Negativity, Revolution,
Stop
Intellect, Wisdom,
Optimism, Radiance,
Idealism, Warmth, Fun,
Happiness, Friendship,
Hope, Imagination, Joy,
Curiosity, Spirituality,
Enlightenment
Jealousy, Cowardice,
Deceit, Caution, Warning,
Weakness, Mourning,
Revolution, Envy
Knowledge, Coolness,
Peace, Masculinity,
Contemplation, Faith,
Loyalty, Justice, Vastness,
Intelligence, Spirituality,
Serenity, Cleanliness,
Security, Subconscious,
Power, Confidence, Tech-
nology, Success
Depression, Apathy,
Coldness, Detachment,
Immoral, Old-fashioned,
Confusion, Dominance
NEGATIVE
NEGATIVE
NEGATIVE
AFRICA
AUSTRALIA
CELTIC
CHINA
EGYPT
FRANCE
INDIA
MEXICO
NEW
ZEALAND
NORTH
AMERICA
GERMANY
ITALY
UKRAINE
EAST
ASIA
CHINA
INDIA
EGYPT
JAPAN
SOUTH AFRICA
SAUDI ARABIA
HINDU
CULTURES
CHINA
JAPAN
IRAN
GERMANY
EGYPT
FRANCE
NORTH
AMERICA
CATHOLICISIM
CHRISTIANITY
BUDDHISM
ISLAM
CHRISTIANITY
BUDDHISM
JEWISH
CHRISTIANITY
BUDDHISM
HINDUISM
POSITIVE
POSITIVE POSITIVE
Wealth
Land, Earth
Death, Afterlife
Celebration, Good luck,
Happiness, Long life,
Marriage
Conservatism
Masculinity
Purity, Soldier’s symbol
Religion
Nobility, Divinity
Conservatism,
Republican, Patriotism
Summer, Crime
Hospitality
Benevolence
Sacred, Imperial
Honor, Royalty,
Nourishing
Commerce, Merchant &
Farmer symbol
Mourning
Courage
Wealth
Strength, Reliability
The Festival of Spring
Taxis, Transportation
Children, Youth,
Innocence, Immortality
Surrounding ocean
Mourning
Employee dismissal
Divinity
Royalty, Aristocracy
Love, Working-class,
Prosperity, Legacy
Education (to teach &
to learn)
Cultural (by religions)
Cultural (by religions)
Cultural (by religions)
Wrath, Holy Spirit
Hell, Blood of Christ
Achievement,
Wisdom, Virtue,
Fortune, Dignity
Wisdom
Divinity, Holiness
Humility, Separation
from materialism,
Emptiness
Holiness
Virtue
Kindness, Peace
The god Krishna
Unconditional love
NATIVE
AMERICAN
CULTURES
NATIVE
AMERICAN
CULTURES
NORTH
AMERICA
166 Color Works The Foundation
6.4
Green Purple Orange
The Cultural Significance of Color
Cultural (by countries)
Cultural (by countries)
Psychological Psychological
Cultural (by countries)
Fertility, Money, Joy,
Growth, Healing, Success,
Nature, Harmony, Hon-
esty, Youth, Cleanliness,
Peace, Balance, Calming,
Abundance, Trust
Greed, Envy, Nausea,
Poison, Corrosion, Illness,
Inexperience
Luxury, Imagination,
Wisdom, Sophistication,
Rank, Nobility, Inspiration,
Wealth, Spirituality, Ritual,
Mysticism, Unconscious,
Inspiration, Sensitivity,
Contemplative, Opulence,
Luxury, Nobility
Exaggeration, Excess,
Madness, Cruelty,
Conceit, Immaturity,
Mourning, Indulgence,
Eccentricity, Cruelty,
Selfishness
Creativity, Social,
Invigoration, Activity,
Uniqueness, Energy,
Vibrancy, Stimulation,
Sociability, Health,
Exuberant, Cheerful, Opti-
mism, Adventurous, Con-
structive, Good Health,
Warm, Compassion
Crassness, Trendiness,
Loudness, Frivolous,
Flamboyant, Low class,
Warning, Prisoner, Crass
NEGATIVE
NEGATIVE
NEGATIVE
IRELAND
CHINA
UK
JAPAN
LATIN AMERICA
THAILAND
JAPAN
IRAN
EGYPT
UKRAINE
NORTH
AMERICA
IRELAND
EGYPT
INDIA
NORTH
AMERICA
CATHOLICISIM
CHRISTIANITY
BUDDHISM
ISLAM
USA
IRELAND
ISLAM
CHRISTIANITY
BUDDHISM
CATHOLICISM
BUDDHISM
HINDUISM
POSITIVE
POSITIVE POSITIVE
Patriotism,
Nationalism
Disgrace, Virtue
Heroism
Eternal Life
Corruption
Labor, Christmas (when
paired with red)
Will or Volition
Death
Mourning of widows
Ceremony, Wealth,
Power, Arrogance,
Enlightenment
The future
Virtue, Faith
Faith, Patience, Trust
Easter (when paired with
yellow), Bravery, LGBT
community
Protestant movement of
Northern Ireland
Mourning
Hinduism
The Field of Engineering,
Halloween, Thanksgiving
(when paired with brown)
Learning, Kinship
Cultural (by religions)
Political
Cultural (by religions)
Cultural (by religions)
Pentecost
Baptism, Renewal
Youth,
Mischievousness
Sacred, Respect, Venera-
tion, Paradise
The Green Party
St. Patrick’s Day
Skill, Instability
Advent, Lent
Sacred
Sin of Gluttony
Wisdom, Strength,
Dignity
The most sacred color of
Hinduism
NATIVE
AMERICAN
CULTURES
NATIVE
AMERICAN
CULTURES
NORTH
AFRICA
NORTH
AMERICA
Psychological
6.2

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