RE: OT(?): international color implications, esp. red, purple

Subject: RE: OT(?): international color implications, esp. red, purple
From: salatas <salatas -at- micron -dot- com>
To: "'Rene Stephenson'" <RStephenson -at- mwci -dot- mea -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 15:00:26 -0700

Rene Stephenson wrote:

I am designing a symbol for our company that will be used internationally
(Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Austrailia/New Zealand).


Please let me know what other color/shape pitfalls to avoid -- colors and/or
shapes that have a "loaded message." *****The main colors at issue are red
and purple.***** We want the color to convey leadership, pace-setting,
initiative, strength, technological savvy, forward-thinking, etc. I know
that red can indicate warning or danger in the US, but that has never
stopped its use as an eye-catcher in logos.


Salette Latas responds:

From The Icon Book by William Horton (1994, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN

Red connotes danger in western Europe, anger and danger in Japan, and joy
and festivity in China.

Green connotes safety in western Europe; future, youth, and energy in Japan;
and fertility and strength in Arab nations.

Other tips:

Avoid the punctuation marks !, ?, &, #, and ", which aren't universal.

Be aware of the potential religious or cultural implications of symbols such
as the red cross or the magic wand.

Keep in mind that animal icons have different meanings in different
cultures: in the western hemisphere, the owl is a symbol of wisdom and
learning; in the east, it is considered brutal and stupid.

Be careful of your assumptions about progression: if your culture reads text
from left to right, you may assume that an icon pointing to the right
indicates progress, but that may not be universally true.

From International Technical Communication by Nancy L. Hoft (1995, John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-03743-5):

Red connotes prosperity and rebirth in China; valor and might in Malaysia;
mourning in the Ivory Coast; first place in the U.K.; masculinity in France
and the U.K.; power, stop, and danger in the U.S.; procreation and life in
India; and blasphemy or death in many African countries.

Purple connotes death in Latin America, royalty in Europe and the Middle
East, and barbarism in China.

Hope this helps.

Salette Latas
Technical Writer
salatas -at- micron -dot- com

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