Colors and culture in software and app localization

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infographic-82x300When we blogged about colors a few months back, we knew we were touching upon a very important topic in localization and cultural awareness, but it turned out to be our most successful blog posts so far. What do colors mean in different contexts? Do connotations change from culture to culture (hint: they do)? Will I have to adapt my products’ color palette to adapt to a new market? These things are not trivial and require a good understanding of the cultural contexts in which you operate - but they are also not witchcraft and some early efforts and research can go a long way in setting your strategy up correctly and making cultural issues like colors, symbols and pictures part of your localization project.

I am writing this from a cultural background where white is associated with peace, marriage, cleanliness for example - but in terms of skin color we call it pale and it has a slightly negative connotation. Go to places in Asia and you will find out white can mean terminal things such as death, and having a fair skin color is an ideal. Does your product play with color? Think hard about how that will translate! Go Global, Be Local!

To illustrate and share, we have come up with a small infographic that captures the essence of what we are going at here. Please comment to share your experiences or questions you might have. We’re interested in learning about common pitfalls you know of.