From paint to nail polish: welcome to the world of naming things

Do you wear makeup? Or have you recently painted your home? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you are no doubt familiar with the names given to eyeshadow or lipstick, or to interior paint colors.

I am fascinated with the names paint makers and makeup companies give their products. Whose job is this? I’d like to know, because I would love to have this job!

I got a new lipstick the other day, and it was called “Rose Chocolate.” With this name, the maker of the product gave me a good idea of what to expect. In fact, I liked the product even more because of its name. Maybe that’s weird, but it’s true.

For the most part, I think the people in charge of naming colors get it wrong. They’re either not imaginative enough, unoriginal, or simply way off the mark. Or they take the easy road and look at a rival’s color, steal the name, and slightly modify it for their own product. I saw this the other day when I was browsing the makeup aisle. One company named their deep green eyeshadow, Evergreen Forest. Their competitor named this same green, Evergreen Trees.


A couple years ago, I had some work done on my house. I hired two contractors to paint the interior of my home. Before the paint job, my house was your typical, snore-inducing white. But when the contractors were done, my house had 12  different shades of paint! And not only did the walls look stunning, but the names of the paint colors were quite pleasing. For example:

Living Room: July Thunderstorm, Drenched Rain, Peace River

Hallway and Laundry Room: Cornflower Blue

Kitchen: Mint Julep

Bedroom 1: Wasabi

Bedroom 2: Violet

Study: Arboretum

Simple yet evocative names.

I have some of the prettiest nail polishes, but their names are so boring. It feels as if the world of naming products has been stuck in a rut for decades. Companies need to get on board with the fact that the world is changing and new things exist that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Heck, new words exist that weren’t in the dictionary 20 years ago. The people who name things should take advantage of this. By doing so, they could communicate better with their customers and sell more products.

I’d like to see these companies go out on a limb and get a little creative when they assign a product its name. I would like the product names to reflect (or at least partially reflect — because some old fashioned things have charming names and they should be kept alive and in use) that we’re living in the year 2010, not 1970. I mean, I can’t believe my favorite pink nail polish is still called “Bubblegum Yum.” I started using it when I was 13 (that’s when my parents gave me the approval to wear cosmetics).

When I was in Library School (earning my Master’s in Library and Information Science) a friend of mine emailed me a job announcement. A company in NYC was looking for an employee to be the curator and inventor of their product names. I believe it was a paint company, but I’m not 100% sure. I read the job description enthusiastically and then I deleted the email message. If only I had saved it. If only I had known I would be one of those odd people who gets a thrill out of naming things!

If you encounter this type of job description, please forward it to me. Me and my fondness for naming things would greatly appreciate it! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s