An International Marketing Cheat Sheet: Color Meanings Around the World

When you see the color black, what do you think of? Death? Funerals? Johnny Cash? The answer depends, in part, on where you’re from. And that means the colors you use on your website and in your advertisements can affect the message your international audience receives, in ways you might not intend.

How well does your business color scheme translate? Find out with our international marketing cheat sheet to color meanings around the world:


Red: Color Meanings Around the World

It’s the color of blood, the color of wine, and the color of rubies. In any culture, red is an attention-getter, and there’s probably a reason for that. According to the BBC, “Wearing red can change your physiology and balance of hormones and alter your performance in a football match.”

But what kind of attention will red attract for your business? That depends in part on where you’re marketing.

  • Western Cultures (The US and Western Europe):  Love, passion, and danger. Red is a youthful, energetic color.
  • Eastern/Asian cultures: Most Asian cultures associate red with luck, long life, and happiness. Brides often get married in red dresses to ensure a happy marriage.  In India specifically, it also brings to mind purity, love, beauty, wealth and power.
  • Middle East: Danger and caution, but sometimes with threatening overtones.
  • Latin America: In Latin America, red means passion, but can also symbolize Christianity when used alongside white.
  • South Africa: In South Africa, red also represents sacrifice and mourning.

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