A universal language does not currently exist, although it may have according to the Bible. And in that frame of thinking, thanks to the Tower of Babel, exists no longer, except with color and perhaps sound, but since we are discussing color here, let us stay focused on that. Some colors the world over have universal meaning, but this does not apply to all colors. I will discuss a few that are more universal than others.
The color red, in nearly every corner of the world signifies danger and blue a feeling of tranquility and order, green of life, safety and currently recycling. White (or the absence of color in the print world) is the subject of various interpretations. It is the emblem of purity and death, the Yin and the Yang, the alpha and omega.
Having a good grasp of color in culture is an effective tool for design, whether your design is print or web based. Imagine that you are working on a website that is to be used most often by older adults. The subculture of older adults perceive color in a different way than children do. That is because the eye ages and the way we see color changes with our age. Our demographic that the printed piece or web related project is directed to can effect how our color pallet for design should be used. Understanding your demographic within the culture or subculture and utilizing those colors effectively applied to that demographic is a good start to design.
You will still have to consider the business sectors colors, color trends and style that you want to convey. And by style what I mean is: funky, retro, serene, spiritual ,powerful, professional and so on. You may soon start thinking about your designs in a different way with all the various aspects that come to play in creating a compelling design for what ever industry you are in.