Amber & Co - Understanding Colour Psychology and Their Connotations in Different Cultures

Understanding Colour Psychology and Their Connotations in Different Cultures.

Colour is a form of non-verbal communication. Each colour has a variety of associations within Western culture; it can also mean something completely different from China to India. Colour alters the meaning of the objects or situations with which they are connected. Colour preferences can predict consumer behaviour. It is important to pay attention on varying meanings and emotions that a particular audience can assign to colour, especially in this dynamic environment. This blog illustrates the general colour psychology and its symbolism in Chinese, South Asian, Korean and Japanese cultures.

Red is a powerful colour, which has both positive and negative associations - energy, passion, anger and aggression. The intensity of red draws attention and encourages action. Red can help one to overcome negative thoughts, but too much red can trigger irritation, fear, and intolerance.
Chinese Good fortune, Joy, Recognition, Celebration, Respect, Money, Long Life
Red is the luckiest colour in Chinese culture, which symbolizes good fortune, joy and happiness. It's often displayed at weddings and holidays such as Chinese New Year. Because red is a colour of happiness, it is absolutely forbidden in funerals.
South Asian Purity, Fertility, Love, Beauty
In India, red has stood for purity, prosperity and commitment. Because of its association with purity, red is often used as a spiritual symbol during wedding ceremonies.
Korean Masculine Energy, Passion
Red is associated with a passion for sports and it is common to wear red to sporting events to show support.
Japanese Strength, Passion, Self-Sacrifice
Red is a meaningful colour in Japanese society, which represents strong emotions as it is the colour of the sun on the Japanese flag. It also promotes love and intimacy.

The colour yellow shines with happiness, energy and optimism, which is the best colour to create enthusiasm for life. It is the colour of confidence and creativity. Yellow can stimulates mental processes, activates memory and encourages communication. On the contrary, wrong tones of yellow can be interpreted as jealousy, judgmental and impatient.
Chinese Imperial, Royalty, Honor, Preciousness
Yellow, the most beautiful colour in Chinese culture, symbolizes royalty and power of the throne, for the reason that the Emperors throne was often decorated with yellow.
South Asian Sanctity, Sacredness/Auspiciousness, Commerce
It is a highly spiritual colour in India. It is also the colour of celebration of spring. it also the Symbol of farmers and Merchants.
Korean Passion, Joy, Happiness
The colour of yellow represents the starting point for developing knowledge and expanding the mind.
Japanese Courage, Beauty/Refinement, Aristocracy, Cheerfulness
The colour yellow represents the value of courage and nobility.

Green generates stability between the head and the heart from a colour psychology perspective. This colour symbolizes self-respect, wealth, harmony, refreshment, environmental awareness and love. Green is the colour of growth, fertility, life and balance; consequently it creates a feeling of peace, relaxation and calmness.
Chinese Health, Prosperity, Nausea, Harmony
It symbolizes spring where growth is abundant and living things are alive. However, green hats are associated with infidelity in Chinese culture.
South Asian Hope, New Beginnings, Harvest, Virtue
Green implies nature in India because of its agricultural economy. It is also closely tied with the Islam religion.
Korean Fresh Start, Youth, New Energy
Koreans consider green as a lucky colour. Many businesses favour the green colour in their storefronts to draw success.
Japanese Eternal Life, Youthfulness, Freshness
Green is the color of fertility and growth in traditional Japanese culture. It also represents eternity, as evergreen trees never stop growing.

Blue is the colour of wisdom, loyalty and trust. It is the calming colour that provides a sense of reliable, responsible, coolness, and intellectual. Although blue is the world's most liked colour of all, it has negative traits such as inflexible, predictable, unforgiving, and coldness, depending on its tone.
Chinese Healing, Relaxation, Exploration, Trust, Calmness, Immortality
Blue symbolizes immortality or long life. It is considered a feminine colour.
South Asian Heavens, Love, Truth, Mercy
Blue is associated with Lord Krishna, one of the most favoured gods in India; it symbolizes protection of humanity.
Korean Clean, Integrity
The colour blue symbolizes integrity because traditionally, the scholars, a man of virtue, were represented with a blue colour. It is also one of the Korean flag.
Japanese Calmness, Stability, Purity, Everyday Life
Blue is considered a feminine colour, and is often used in art and clothing. Young women often wear blue maiko dress to show their purity.

The colour of purple creates harmony of the mind and the emotion. While spiritually calming the emotions, it also represents the future, the imagination and dreams. Purple has associations with royalty and the nobility that promotes an impression of luxury and wealth. Excessive use of purple can also indicate introversion, suppression and decadence.
Chinese Elegance, Affluence, Abundance
Purple brings luck and fame. It is a symbol of nobility, however it was never the imperial color.
South Asian Creativity, Vitality, Mysticism
The colour purple is associated with spiritual connection, understanding, knowing, bliss, and God in Indian culture.
Korean Wealth, Spiritual Awareness
Purple symbolizes wealth and spiritual awareness. It is utilized in physical and spiritual and mental healing as well.
Japanese Privilege, Wealth
The color was named 'Imperial Purple', and defines power, status, and wealth in Japanese culture

The colour of black means self-control, independence and seriousness; it frequently give an impression of strength, sophistication and uncompromising excellence. Black provides a sense of comfort and protection as it hides vulnerabilities and insecurities. In contrast, too much black creates an intimidating and unapproachable environment.
Chinese Misfortune, Seriousness, Formality
Black is associated with dirt, evil, disasters, and sadness; it can signifies misfortune and bad luck.
South Asian Evil, Negativity, Darkness, Intolerance, Laziness
Black in India has connotations with lack of desirability, negativity, and inertia. It is applied as a representation of evil and is often used to ward off evil.
Korean Death, Elegant
Similar to most Asian cultures, black traditionally symbolizes death in Korea as well. However, it now fast becoming a popular colour to the young generation.
Japanese Death, Destruction, Doom, Fear, Sorrow
When used alone, black represents mourning and misfortune, and is often worn to funerals. Black is a colour of formality, and has increasingly come to represent elegance due to influence by Western culture.

White is the colour of perfection, peace, and neutrality. In colour psychology, the colour white encourages us to confront obstacles, reminds purification of thoughts, and enables fresh beginnings. It produces a sense of calm, comfort, order and efficiency. However, excessive use of white can create feelings of coldness, empty, and isolation.
Chinese Mourning, Death, Inauspicious, Purity
The colour of white has both positive and negative associations. It is the colour of sorrow, as it is associated with death. However, it also symbolizes brightness and purity from the positive aspect.
South Asian Unhappiness, Peace, Purity
White is the symbol of sorrow in death of family member. Traditionally the only colour a widow is allowed to wear. However, White is also widely accepted as the colour of peace and purity now.
Korean Purity, Innocence, Morality, Patriotism.
Traditionally, Koreans were called "the white clad people" that refers to innocence. Therefore, they use white colour when they want to get a pure and innocent attitude.
Japanese Auspicious, Death, Mourning
White is a blessed colour in Japan as it signifies purity and cleanliness in traditional Japanese society. However, White is also the close link to death.

Colour can shape the way we think. It has strong associative meanings in different cultures. Furthermore, it can stimulate a powerful subconscious response and affect persuasiveness. Therefore, understanding the cultural colour differences is a significant factor in multicultural marketing.

Are you thinking of what colours can increase persuasiveness of your advertising and generate response from your audience? Contact us and let's talk about the colour influence to your targeted audiences.


April 11, 2013
Posted By Amber Liu

Tags: Different Cultures, Colour Psychology, Colours, Meanings, Chinese, South Asian, Korean, Japanes, Vancouver.