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Colors: Connotations and Symbolism

india-color-300x288Not everyone knows it, but colors have psychological connotations that can affect company texts or marketing in both positive and negative ways, depending on where in the world said text or advertisement is published or issued, respectively.

Colors are of great importance for a brand to receive positive repercussions within a determined society or culture. It is very difficult to universalize colors, since they are directly linked to particular associations and emotions of different cultures.

For example, in ancient Greece, black symbolized life because night gives birth to day. However, in the 16th century, Queen Anne of Great Britain made a profound change by using the color black for mourning, an association that continues to this day. Black is a color related with darkness, pain, and formality, among other things.

On the other hand, red symbolizes love, vigor, and action; it was considered a very important color for certain ancient cultures, including those of China, Japan, and India.

We can also mention the color of sunlight: yellow. It brings about warmth, good spirits, and happiness. More than anything else, it is linked with mental activity and creativity. Regarding the history of this color in ancient cultures, Chinese emperors had exclusive rights to yellow; they were the only ones allowed to dress in this color, and commoners were prohibited from wearing it.

Green is a sacred color for Muslims. It is also associated with luck, especially in Irish culture; indeed, for the Irish, it connotes a certain degree of group identity. It connotes peace, security, and hope. Blue symbolizes happiness, hope, truth, and honor (from which the expression “blue blooded” is derived). For an emotional person, blue is more calming than green. It opens the mind and brings peace and tranquility. White is associated with peace, purity, faith, and flawlessness. It is the fusion of all colors and is the color of light. However, in Asia and some parts of Africa, white is the color of mourning.

When facing a translation project that will be published in a magazine or that will be part of a graphic advertisement, we must take these cultural issues into account, as the color used for a design may cause different impacts depending on the culture that the text is directed to. When beginning the DTP and design stage, one must consult with the client to find out how he or she wants the file to be designed.

To view the original Spanish post, go to:

Los colores: connotaciones y simbolismos