Color has strong cultural associations and meanings, and new global workplaces need to consider the impact of color on branding, packaging and materials, and office design. Branding includes colors as well as logos, and businesses that are seeking to participate in the global marketplace should consider the cultural implications of their color choices.
Red is an example of a color that can be misunderstood or misused in branding or office design schemes. In America, the color is associated with high energy, rage or anger, blood or violence. It is usually not used in a business or office interior design scheme because of these cultural associations with energy and anger. But in much of Asia, red is a color that is associated with joy or celebration. Happiness is symbolized with red. It is a color that many successful businesses incorporate in their packaging, materials, and office designs, and especially in art.
There are regional and country-specific interpretations of red as used in business contexts, however. In Japan, many natural shades of red are used in seasonal applications, such as cherry blossom pink for spring and deep burgundy or rusty red for autumn. These colors reflect the reds in nature, and business applications may change over the seasons. The warm reds that reflect natural pigments, such as terra cotta red, and have a seasonal application, may have cross-cultural acceptance in the east and west.
In Korea and much of Asia, writing in red ink or red printing is considered threatening, and business writing is never red, other than official stamps or chops. This comes from an older tradition of writing the names of the dead in red ink. Business printed materials, such as cards and stationary, should not include any text printed in red.
If a business is designing a workplace or looking at branding that includes colors, cultural interpretations should be one of the considerations. In the new global marketplace, the cultural interpretation of branding and color design may impact a new client’s understanding and perception of a new business partner.
We would love to work with you on an office design scheme that reflects a cross-cultural acceptance of beautiful colors. Please get in touch.