164 Color Works The Foundation
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
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
culture’s 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.