By Emma Clarke and Katy Burgess
Passion. Anger. Danger. That’s what Westerners see when they spy a scarlet symbol.
But what about other countries? When transcreating a website for example it’s important to take other cultures into account. After all, transcreation is about being faithful to the ‘feel’ of the original.
It’s amazing how many messages a colour can convey. I would be less likely to buy products from a relaxing spa website if their background was a bright crimson red instead of a soothing azure.
Red is apparently associated with sacrifice and sin in the Hebrew language, so it’s worth taking that into account when exporting products to Israel.
In Eastern Europe, meanwhile, red is still strongly associated with communism, being the colour of the flags of communist China, Vietnam and the former USSR.
Meanwhile, in India the colour brings to mind the concept of purity. In the West brides tend to wear white, whereas in the East wedding dresses are often red. If your website featured an Asian bride wearing white you could lose credibility. And in Thailand, people tend to wear cherry coloured clothes on Sunday.
From weddings to funerals: in South Africa red is perceived as the colour of mourning. In fact, because of this, the Red Cross had to change its brand colours in the country to green and white.
Scarlet isn’t always so sombre. Indeed, it’s a lucky colour in China and if a customer received a red envelope they would be expecting money. Crimson is the colour of festivities: for example, Chinese New Year, or the red egg and ginger ceremony which is traditionally held to mark a baby’s first month and the giving of their name.
However, do not be tempted to write anyone’s name in red because Chinese obituaries are conventionally written in red text, so writing ‘John Smith’ in red could suggest that they have died.
Transcreation experts take all of these factors into account and many more besides. It’s important to employ specialists in order to make sure that your website is transferring the message you want to send.
So it seems that red can either be a beacon of hope or a warning sign to potential audiences across different cultures – but what does it mean to you?
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