Today at work, Jacob, Jesse, and I were working on a big project that ended with us creating a color palette. Once we finished, Jacob turned to me and said, “You finally get your dream job…you can name the colors.”
Before he even got the sentence out, my face LIT UP. You see, naming colors IS my dream job. I think I first listed “the person who names the makeup colors” as what I’d like to be when I grew up in approximately 1993. I always took careful note of the color names when I looked at (and later purchased) makeup. I also remember a few years ago, a friend asked what color something was — I want to say it was the color of the dining room in another sorority house or something like that. The three other people all said “green” at the same time, while I said “moss.” Everyone laughed at me but…it was moss. It wasn’t just green! How did they not see that?!
And maybe it’s just because I care about this stuff, but the names of colors totally influence my purchases. If one brand calls a shade “grey”…and another brand calls it “cable-knit”…even if it’s the same damn color, I’m going to buy the one that invokes something I love. It’s why I’ve been buying Essie instead of OPI lately…OPI is just making my teeth hurt with those puns. (I actually just turned in a post for Color Me Rouge a couple days ago about how the name of an Essie color had a big effect on me — I’ll share that when it’s live!) The name of an item of clothing has a similar effect. Why is it called the “Jackie” dress? I’ll think while flipping through a catalogue. I don’t know, but I like it better than “Style 13031″ in this other catalogue.
I’m actually fascinated by the names companies choose (and not just for makeup) because now that I actually do get to name things for a living, I know how much thought goes into it. The debates my coworkers and I have at work over what to name things are both incredibly small and really important for branding. (Not so much with the names of this color palette today, but the color palette itself was huge.) In the evenings, Eric will ask how my day was, and I’ll say something like, “Well, we spent 45 minutes arguing…WHY COULDN’T THEY JUST SEE THAT ‘MEMBER’ IS THE RIGHT WORD, NOT ‘USER’?!?!? FOR FUCK’S SAKE, I’M SO STRESSED OUT. How was your day?” And then Eric will me about the new children’s hospital he’s helping design. Psssh. So the children’s hospital has air conditioning during the next Houston heat wave? Great…but what are they going to call it? And how will they punctuate it? You know…the things that matter?!
Do you care about the names of colors when you’re buying a product? Please come geek out with me in the comments.