Michel Pastoureau, a French specialist in medieval history who worked on the history of colours, stated that colour is a cultural phenomenon, which is perceived differently depending on time, society and culture.

Did you know that for the Romans, blue was a negative colour, associated with the enemy and with a feminine attitude in men? Today blue is the favourite colour of the West, and is used to symbolize the male gender extensively.

Nikki Burton, the head of colour marketing at AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paints company and owner of Dulux, is an expert on the culture of colour. Being aware that colour in an environment influences the way people think and feel about the space they are in, the Dulux team painted schools, streets, homes and squares in vibrant colours in Brazil, France, the UK and India.

“Colour artist” Sophie Smallhorn has been working with architectural consultancy Populous as a consultant on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. “We have tried to create the sense of a journey of colour as you move through the stadium”, she says. “It’s a bold use of colour on a huge scale: it’s life-affirming and has a sense of coming together”.

When translating marketing documents, such as websites, brochures, leaflets and banners, don’t underestimate the power of colour. Although colour preference is always a subjective matter, picking the right colour will always cultivate a more positive response. Conversely, overlooking the issue of colour and cultural sensitivity when translating and typesetting your documents may go so far as to offend your readers.

Further reading on colour preferences:

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