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Color Association

Colors often have cultural associations, and this can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how colors are used. For instance, election maps in the U.S. use a visual convention of representing red for Republicans and blue for Democrats.

In many charts, the abstract use of color may not evoke cultural associations.

However, when using colors in combination with symbols, or to represent specific countries, populations, or places, one should be mindful about strong cultural color associations, particularly when targeting an international audience.

For example, green may represent luck or “go” in the U.S., while in west Asia it is associated with Islam. The color orange is linked with nationalist, conservative, or liberal political parties in different countries around the world.

For a fascinating glimpse at political color association see