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Color Dubbing

My dad saves me all the articles from his Wall Street Journals that have to do with design. Last week he gave me one that had to do with paint colors and I found it too fascinating to not share with you all. It has to do with catchy paint names and the process of choosing them.


“To dub a new color, Ms. Jordan, director of color marketing, draws inspiration from pretty much everything, including books, song lyrics, foods and places. She then creates a list, sorting her ideas by color family in her ‘color bible.’ Once her and her team figure out what’s lacking in Sherwin Williams’s existing palette, they submit basic parameters-for example, five new blue colors ranging from sky blue to blue-green- to the lab. Once she sees the colors and approves them, she assigns a name to each one. She goes through her list until she finds a name that fits that particular color. The names then go to a fact-checker, who makes sure the color name hasn’t been used before. Some names are straightforward, like Blue Sky and Cherry Tomato, while others, like Cut the Mustard and Indulgent (lavender), are more obscure. Names can’t be too trendy since most colors have a life span of about 10 to 12 years and names stick with their respective hues forever. On the more practical side, names also have to fit on a paint card. The longest one uses the maximum 28 characters: Colonial Revival Green Stone. Colors absolutely make a difference. When we have good paint colors, we stand a better change of selling a home and selling it for a higher price.”

Paint retailer Sherwin-Williams currently offers about 1,500 colors, each with a unique name and color swatch. Here’s a breakdown of color names and sales:

Paint names with one word: 35.4%
Paint names with two words: 61.3%
Paint names with three of more words: 3.3%

37% of blue colors have a water reference in the name.
28% of pink/red colors have a flower reference in the name.
25% of green colors have a food reference in the name.
13% of brown colors have a chocolate reference in the name.


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