Designers like to create works that reflect their personal taste and the aesthetics of their own culture. But what if your audience is from another culture? When my girlfriend went to Nicaragua to teach editing techniques to local TV producers, she found that they had a very different opinions of what was visually pleasing. At the time, she thought that the locals simply “didn’t get” modern, good design. In retrospect, though, she sees that visual communications, including colours, fonts and layouts are culture-specific, just like clothing, social norms, etc.
The following shows the “cultural colour palettes” of various demographics, based on interviews and focus groups. From Moriarty, S., Cultural Palettes in Print Advertising: Formative Research Design Method
Note: The “Young Single Women” results may seem surprising, until you realize that the study was done in 2000. The following American Apparel ad suggests that the “worse” colours are back in style!