Although there are many common threads that tie colour values together globally, cultural differences can deeply affect the perceptions of colours to certain peoples. Wear a green hat in the Emerald Isle of Ireland and you’ll be a happy patriot. Wear the same hat in China and you’ll be announcing to the town that your wife has committed adultery. In many parts of Africa red is the colour of death and mourning, but contrast that with Iran where it represents courage and good fortune. Worth noting if you’re a Nigerian tourist taking a break in Tehran.
So apart from an interesting insight into world cultures, how does this impact marketing? As the world of communications is increasingly driven by algorithms and tiny message adjustments that can dramatically affect media consumption, colour is one of the ingredients that could potentially make or break your campaign.
As global brands grow and infiltrate every area of our lives, how do we create compelling visuals that transcend cultural borders and resonate with a global audience? It seems that for many the answer is all around us, and it’s probably blue.
Of all the colours in our spectrum, blue is the colour that has the most consistent and universal values. If we ignore for a minute its negative western connotations with depression (the blues), it’s the colour that most people see as safe and trustworthy. Which is possibly why around 60% of Fortune 500 companies use blue as the dominant colour in their branding.
However, going blue has an interesting statistical twist. Those same companies appear to perform significantly less well than companies with brand colours occupying the rest of the spectrum. In fact, they tend to be a lot less profitable.
So maybe it’s worth upsetting a few people occasionally and going for that fluorescent pink you’ve always favoured.