All You Need to Know About Color Symbolism in China
What Does Localization Mean to You?
It’s not only about translating one language into another. It’s more about how to adapt a product or any content according to the locale. Translation has quickly become part of multilingual brands. Especially in the entertainment industry, the use of subtitles, transcriptions, and transcreation is at its peak. It means being a brand you have to complement the local norms while marketing your brand’s image.
Localization can be done brilliantly with visuals and images because it affects the learning process of an individual.
When in China Do as the Chinese Do
As a business entity world is dividing into parts; the Eastern world and the Western world.
The difference between the two becomes far more prominent especially when it comes to market a product or a service. Marketing strategies in western countries are more based on moods and emotions for instance use of emojis is quite similar to use of colors in eastern markets, likewise; green for envy, blue when you are sad, red when angry or mad, etc. whereas in Asian countries like China, colors mean a lot more than just mood or emotion.
It’s a symbol.
Global brands need to understand the depth of color symbolism in China. That’s why many require skilled translation service providers like Chinese Translation Company, to localize with a pure understanding of the Chinese culture.
From Taoism Point of View – the Avatar of Colors
If you ever went through Nickelodeon prime time, you might be familiar with a popular animated/cartoon series “The Last Air Bender” which aired a while ago. Although the movie release was a critical failure in cinema it did bring attention to the four elements; fire, air, earth, and water. The main lead is a boy (an avatar) who has to master all elements, go through the phase of change and development, and bring peace to the world (because he is the protector).
This traditional concept is more known as Wu Xing – five basic elements emphasize dynamic changes which is a lot similar to the basic concept of Yin and Yang (Taoism).
Wu Xing is co-related to Yin and Yang i.e. both concepts complement each other and so it was concluded with the 5 basic elements; fire, metal, earth, water, and wood. In Chinese culture, these elements reach far beyond their physical existence.
The popular belief is all living and non-living things are made from these elements. Each element is relative to certain characteristics like colors and personality for instance;
- Wood represents spring, brilliance, and bloom.
- Fire represents summer, strength, power, bravery, and intensity.
- Metal represents dead ends and difficulties.
- Water represents wisdom and accuracy
- Earth represents fidelity and honesty.
How Elements Play Role in Color Symbolism
Now, this is the interesting part, each element symbolizes a wide spectrum a total opposite of the black and white color of Yin and Yang.
Each element represents a color;
What do you imagine fire would be like? It represents high energy and mostly associated with bright colors that depict the nature of the element. Usually, the colors representing fire are red, scarlet, deep purple, and sometimes pink.
Did you ever imagine why people in China have wood floors as traditional home décor? The soothing colors represent the element. Colors such as brown, yellow, and terracotta evoke the essence of balance. Therefore it makes people feel a closer connection to the earth and their motherland.
This element is the resilience of stability. Usually, when a couple gets married (in western countries) their band colors range from gold and silver, sometimes white or grey even. In Chinese colors, it’s about bringing equal balance in each other’s life.
It is said water can have a soothing effect and can be used as a tool for torture. On the positive notes, this element is represented by shades of blue and black, it associates with the flow of life and predicts calmness.
Usually represented by teal and green, this element resonates birth and growth in Chinese culture. In most advertisements, you may come across this color.
As a marketer, you need to understand the use of colors in visuals. This will be quite helpful to present your product to the Chinese market. Now keeping these factors in mind, there are a few colors that are perceived more highly by the general audience like;
Red is said to the most ancient color of all. The common understanding is that red is best represents Chinese culture. Somewhat it is true, Chinese consider red as a symbol of prosperity and happiness and used in several festivals to celebrate the time as well as the Chinese New Year or at weddings.
This color is a bit sensitive for use in Chinese culture. You may have seen, yellow was often worn by emperors in the historic time, but currently the color manifest inappropriate adult content. So be careful if you plan to use this as your brand color.
Commonly used in advertisements especially if it is sports-related i.e. it represents masculinity – a common association as a gender-based color. Therefore if your brand focuses on the gender niche, it is safe to use this color as it does not gives any negative vibes.
Contrary to the popular belief in western countries where white is worn at the wedding day and often celebrated at festivals, in China, it symbolizes mourning. So wearing a white dress on any occasion other than funeral means disrespect for the festive events.
Quite a famous color in terms of marketing, this color symbolizes the ascendance to immorality which is a good sign in the said culture.
Colors associate with culture, traditions, values, and emotions. Every culture is unique therefore each culture depicts colors in a different way than the other. As a business entity, it comes down to you, to initiate the right market tactics with the right entourage of colors.
China is worth an investment. If you ignore color symbolism, you may call upon self-doom. It’s better to connect with the fundamental principles and win hearts.