The colour white and its meaning

The colour white, although not technically a colour, is a colour that embodies purity, cleanliness & perfection. It is a colour that can bring a sense of a new beginning, purity of thought and emotions which sometimes takes us back to our childhood when things were easier and less complicated than in adult life.

In this post, I will look in-depth at the meaning of white, how different cultures have different meanings for the colour and when we should consider using the purity of white in our branding.

White and it’s meaning in the chakras – clarity of thought

Why am I talking about chakras and what is a chakra? A chakra is what is known as an energy wheel that helps make up our spiritual aura ( that can be seen by the use of special cameras) of seven colours. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple and gold/white. It is believed to relate to how we think and how we experience the world, how people see us, as well as our physical and mental health.

It is believed that each chakra has a purpose beyond its colour and although white is not a colour of the chakra system it embodies them all. White is the reflection of perfect balance as you can only create pure white if you have exactly the same amount of each colour mixed. Unlike black that absorbs every colour, white reflects it and thus it is said that a total balance of the chakras is in place and why we link white to goodness, purity and heaven like qualities.

White Clouds

White is believed to illuminate our thoughts with clarity and perfection giving us a sense of peace and wellbeing and why many therapists will work in mainly stark white clinics.

If we consider a business that already uses white successfully in their branding the first brand that comes to mind is likely to be Apple. Apple, although usually a silver logo also chooses to display their brand as white on occasions when the background is dark showing a clear, concise and perfect looking logo! When the silver logo is displayed it is usually on a white background emphasising its clinical and perfect product of technological innovation.

Interestingly, many designers know the importance of ‘white space‘ in their work and need to use it to create a sense of balance and calmness whether in architecture, documentation or a piece of fine art, ‘white’ space visually makes use feel peaceful.

 The colour white in nature

the colour white can be cold

The colour white in nature is the colour we most associate with the north and south poles due to its environment being totally completed in snow and ice. For this reason, white can also sometimes appear cold and even frozen if it is not balanced by the use of other colours or textures.

These environments are very hostile to live in and are rarely lived in by many humans thus white can also evoke feelings of isolation and emptiness.

The bad side of the colour white

White can also often be seen as boring and unimaginative, it is a little bit too balanced and can lack any sense of human character and why it works well for technological businesses as human emotion should not come into technological advances unless it is to evoke a sense of being the latest evolution in design.

The colour white and its cultural representation in different countries

the colour white as represented by an angel
Culturally speaking the colour white has vast differences depending upon where you are from. For the western world, it brings visions of angels, brides, peace and purity.

In the East, white can be seen as the colour of death, I assume maybe this is because a lot of the eastern cultures and religions believe in the afterlife and thus the connotation of the new beginning. China sees white as virginity but also misfortune.
White in most cultures symbolises purity so if you are looking to advertise something that purifies and creates balance in some form is a good colour to use.

How white can affect our mood

Blank Canvas
White as already discussed helps us to clear our minds and have clarity of thought, whilst offering ourselves new beginnings because when we view white we feel that anything is possible to achieve, a ‘blank canvas’ so to speak!

With the colour white, you should use it for a brand that sells purity, innocence, efficiency, new beginnings, something that helps another, or a product that is best experienced cold, for example, the ICE hotel.

I hope this brief article about the colour white has been useful, do you have any other points that you think may be useful to someone thinking about using white in their design work? Please comment below