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If you were a color…

By Joe Miller | June 28, 2016


If you were a color, what would your name be?

No, this isn’t that game in which you combine the names of your first pet and the street you grew up on to make your porn name. This is real world color naming. And there are literally tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of silly, cool, bizarre, weird, wtf names people like me have come up with to describe particular shades of everyday colors.

At dRC, we have invented our own color names:

  • Chad: Cool Breeze — a pale, transparent blue
  • Shaun: Muddy Boot — a deep dark brown
  • Kim: Passport Stamp — a deep inky purple
  • Joe: Smudge — a dark grayish-blue black
  • Kelly: Beach Bum — a dark tan, of course

Ever since Crayola began packing their crayon boxes with more than the basic red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black wax drawing sticks, color names have gone crazy. First there were forty-eight crayons; then sixty-four with a built-in sharpener; now there are 120 crayon colors with names like Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown, Mango Tango, Neon Carrot, Wild Blue Yonder, Mauvelous, and Piggy Pink.

I’m chuckling as I write. There are tons of these!

Okay, let’s keep going. Color names reach an almost ridiculous level of deep when you dive into the sea of shades offered by paint companies. A dizzying array of berries, corals, florals, spices and emotional conditions (is “Nearly” a condition?). Right now I’m trying to be Humorous Green, as opposed to Direct Green. Or Nearly Green. It’s like an absurd word safari into a super dense but easy to read jungle.

And how about automobile color? Here’s a list of names from Opel:

  • Let it Blue (pearlescent)
  • Saturday White Fever
  • Red ‘n Roll
  • Dancing Green
  • Pink Kong
  • I’ll be Black
  • Papa Don’t Peach (pearlescent)
  • James Blonde (brilliant paint)
  • Purple Fiction (metallic)
  • Mr. Darkside (pearlescent)
  • Pump up the blue (pearlescent)
  • The Greyfather
  • Green Spotting
  • Buzz Lightgreen
  • A Star is Brown
  • Silver Walker
  • White my Fire

There is a definite brand voice and vibe happening here.

So what’s in a name? In a branding sense, it’s a word or group of words that explain or illuminate a value, a position, a service, a quality, a benefit, or an ethos. Like Shaun’s Muddy Boot. We’re all pretty sure what color he’s talking about. But that’s only one aspect of his brand. If we dig below the sole of that shoe, we find a workman-like determination to reach a destination; less concern for appearances than for making the journey; the ability to overcome the challenge of rough terrain; a value for practical solutions. I could go on. If we created a Muddy Boot logo (and we really want to), we’d know right where to start.

Don’t underestimate the name. It has the power of connectivity, understanding, and positive action. Choose them well, and colour them with something of your true nature. It’s part of healthy branding. And healthy is always better.

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Joe Miller

Joe delivers copy, generates concepts, and helps determine strategy. He’s been doing it since 1991 when he started working with a small downtown Cleveland marketing firm. Joe joined the designRoom team as a freelance writer in 1993. He has an annoying knack for finding the core of a problem and the heart of a solution. He also makes the best coffee in the office. In early 2008 he joined the Marketing & Communications team at the Ohio Lottery. While there, Joe led the team that developed and implemented the Lottery’s first-ever social media initiative and crafted the Ohio Policy and Procedures and Terms of Use that guided all the Lottery’s social media involvement. In addition, he created a Winners are Everywhere campaign and managed the creative agency responsible for its implementation. Joe is also a professional musician and educator and occasional composer. He’s the Jazz Trumpet faculty and Jazz Combo conductor at Cleveland State University and has performed all over the world.

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