Going Global: The Magic Power of Color for Success

Do you know what the colors of your clothes are saying about you?

Is your website and brand logo appealing and attractive to your potential buyers or users?

Do you have a favorite color?

Color is a form of non-verbal communication and if you do intercultural business, you need to understand the effect it has on the interpretation of the messages you send to people from different cultures.

The Meaning of Color 

There are two ways in which colors acquire meanings:The natural universal association like green for vegetation and psychological and emotional association or color symbolism based on individual experiences, cultural norms and values.  For example black is for funerals in most western countries while Chinese use white as the color of mourning (see table).
Reference: The Psychology and Meaning of Color in Email and Websites, Aug 2011

Red Yellow Green Black White
China    Good luck, celebration,    happiness     Nourishing     Exorcism, Adultery    Youth,the color for young boys    Funerals
United States   Love, passion, danger,     stop, rage     Hope, hazards,        coward-ness   Spring, go,St. Patrick’s Day,    Christmas Funerals, death, antagonists, Halloween    Weddings,        purity

More about color meaning and cultures: Empower Yourself Going Global With Color Psychology.

Color Psychology

Color has a powerful subliminal and subconscious effect on our physical and emotional well-being. For example if you enter in a mall decorated only in black, gray and white, would you be inspired to buy nice clothes, make-up or even drink coffee? Maybe not.

Color stimulates all our senses and as a result it has an effect on all our purchasing decisions. People make decisions based on their emotions and then justify them with logic. So it is essential that you are aware of both the positive and negative impact and response of each color on the emotions. There is no such thing as a bad color, just colors that are more suitable for your particular business purpose in order to get the response you want.

What does your personality color say about you? (reference: personality colors )

This again depends greatly on culture. Here an example that matches most Americans:

  • If your favorite color is red, you are action oriented with a deep need for physical fulfillment and to experience life through the five senses.
  • If orange is your favorite color, you have a great need to be with people, to socialize with them, and be accepted and respected as part of a group. You also have a need for challenges in your life, whether it is physical or social challenges.
  • Lovers of blue have a deep need to find inner peace and truth, to live their life according to their ideals and beliefs without having to change their inflexible viewpoint of life to satisfy others.
  • Lovers of black have a need for power and control in order to protect their own emotional insecurities.

Colors In International Marketing

When you want to do business globally check the meaning of colors for each country. Color symbolism impacts businesses and personal brands through website or blog graphic design, consumer product development, packaging and corporate identity. The significance of some colors is universal. Other colors, however, have meanings that shift in various cultures.

Online advertisers should be very careful about cultural differences in color symbolism since color is the first thing that is noticed on a web site or banner, even before the person understands the language or what the message says. A miss-match between colors and meanings in a  web site content can potentially ruin the marketer’s objectives.

The customization of color pattern for each country is becoming more and more critical as the population profile of Internet users is shifting rapidly. Latest statistics for 2011 regarding internet users show that Asia has the most internet users accounting for 44% of all users world wide, Europe 22.7 % and North America 13.0%  (Click for Reference).  The top 3 languages spoken on the internet is English with 26.8 % of users Then Chinese with 24.2% and Spanish 7.8% Reference: (Click for Reference )

In an increasingly competitive, global, interconnected and saturated market,
communication needs to be carefully targeted. Few companies have a brand that is powerful enough to generate same response world-wide. For most companies it is important to understand what the impact of communication and color use will be on the targeted group. Therefore it is not only important to understand its meanings but also to find easily applicable rules for translating them.

A very good example of color customization is McDonald’s. The company has different website designs and colors for each country. For example the site for Japan is yellow and for Egypt is red.

How to dress for a job  interview 

The first impression you make during a job interview is the most important one. The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing and color has probably the greatest impact. Recruiter must remember you for who you are and not for your outfit.

Men’s Interview Attire: In the united states, men should wear a suit  with solid color – navy or dark grey. Tie color and pattern should be conservative and non-distracting, for  example, dark blue and dark red with subtle patterns — stripes and dots are preferred. Shirt should be white or pale blue.

Women’s Interview Attire: Suit navy, black or dark grey. Coordinated blouse: white or ivory any light tone that matches your suit is appropriate. Light make-up and perfume.

More about dress for success in the corporate world: Dress for Success.

Whether you are going global or local, use the magic power of color for your success.

Guest Blogger Bio
Anne Egros http://zestnzen.woprdpress.comAbout Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach, at Zest and Zen International LLC
Anne  Provides Global Business, Career, and Expat Life Coaching Services For International Executives and Managers. Pharmaceutical Doctor (PharmD) with 20 years of international experience as business manager in Fortune 500 Companies. Anne worked as an expat for 20 years: US, Japan, Europe, APAC region. Fluent English, native French speaker. Please contact if you have questions Email: aegros@zestnzen.com.

View all posts by Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach »

2 Responses to “Going Global: The Magic Power of Color for Success”

  1. thanks Anne. Color has been important in my life for all of my life. Have worked w/fabrics since childhood, now own an orchid business, and am an avid gardener. Color is a part of the earth and life. Interesting how different cultures attach different meanings. Best, Peggy

    • Anne Egros says:

      Hi Peggy,
      Thanks for your comment. What about the language of flowers ? Is it universal ? like red roses for love or Chrysanthemum for death ? Even or odd numbers ? This could be an interesting post to make Peggy, to you want to write something about this topic ?

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