When a star is not a star

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Icons have international recognition. But they also have cultural bias.

Able and How is gearing up for international client work next week. And the office has been discussing how icons have a number of appealing similarities around the world. There are for example natural colours that are associated with apples: red, green or even yellow; and red and orange for fire.

Colour is also perceived differently across nations. So in many Islamic countries green may represent revolution or in the US red and blue denote the political colour preferences of Democrats and Republicans.

Can icons be truly international? Our work in the Middle East reveals that culturally neutral graphics work the best. We are avoiding any stars (religious symbols); handshaking (man-woman contact has specific rules) and animals (dogs and pigs in particular).

So, is there such a thing as a culturally neutral image?

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