Anyone who’s ever picked up a paint color sample card from the paint store is likely familiar with the name associated with each paint chip. Many people find these color names intriguing (as they were designed to be), but most people have no idea how much influence the color’s name has over their paint selection process.
Influenced by Paint Color Names
A surprising number of people rely on the color names to give them important information about the paint color on the card. In fact, in 2009, “Apartment Therapy” did a subscriber poll asking people if they ever chose a new paint color based on its name. Of the respondents, 64% admitted to doing so at least “sometimes”! As one of the contributors wrote, “With only a cursory look at the chips, we all voted for ‘Quiet Moments’. We just couldn’t imagine sleeping in a room called ‘Arctic Gray’, although the color was really nice.”
Of course, the paint named “Quiet Moments” is not actually made of any quiet moments… any more than there is anything arctic about the paint named “Arctic Gray”. But obviously, these are not just arbitrarily chosen words appended to the card to help you remember which paint color is which… oh, no. In reality, a paint company hires professional writers, Advertising Copywriters, and the like, to come up with meaningful, image-evoking, nostalgia-inducing, emotion-linked names in hopes that they will attract you to one of their colors.
That’s right, the simple 1 to 3 word name inscribed in the corner of every paint chip, which is usually something like, “summer morn”, “evening kiss”, “sweet tomato”, or “harvest breeze”, is the product of a tremendous amount of time and energy on the behalf of any paint company.
The Paint Company Practice of Sample Card Marketing
The motive behind all this pretense is that paint color sample cards are used as a major marketing tool for paint companies. Paint brands encourage you to collect their sample cards because doing so is just like taking a paint company brochure home with you. It’s essentially free advertising, right in the customers’ hands! The more color cards you have from a paint company — the more likely you are to buy one of their paints.
The color names on these cards are a powerful use of a paint company’s marketing reach. But in order for this advertising to work, the marketers have to give you a product message. If an advertiser can connect a visual cue to an auditory stimulus that activates an emotional response, and then associate that response with their brand, then they have given you one complete marketing message — with every color!
The Emotional Sway of Color Names
But here’s the part that hits home. The survey results mentioned above only reveal the people that consciously and intentionally used the color’s name to make a color choice; we would suggest that — especially since the words are so emotionally linked — a much greater proportion of paint buyers have chosen a color, at least partially because of an impression made with this word association gimmick — even without realizing it.
So, perhaps we should make this point yet a little plainer. The series of words used as the “name” for a color is completely non-descriptive of the actual color, and has basically been arbitrarily assigned. This is more evident in names like “Long Vacation”, “Triumphant”, “Old Pickup”, and “Noteworthy Tone” which don’t even vaguely suggest a general hue. Most likely, paint color names are generated by a team of writers (or perhaps a computer) that produces a list of words with proven emotional significance. Those words are then assigned to a given color based on the general impressions of a creative team (who probably have advertising backgrounds). So the names do not describe colors; they do not relate to the actual color they are attached to (at all, in some cases).
To put it another way, when you choose an interior color because you like its name, please keep in mind that there is not actually going to be any “Summer Camp” in that bucket of paint; and nobody is going to walk into a room and feel like they’ve entered a “Mountain Resort” just because you chose to paint your wall that color; and you will likely never even remember that your hallway is supposed to feel like a “Festive Celebration” unless you actually paint that color’s name on the wall there (which would be really funny – please send me pictures if you do that!)
Hey, It Happens to the Best of Us!
But don’t feel bad if you have caught yourself considering a color’s name a little too carefully, we know how easy it is to do. In fact, I started researching this article after I realized I needed to start covering the color names on each sample card I showed to my girlfriend because she kept using the names to form opinions about the colors! (“I don’t care if you dislike sun-dried tomatoes… what do you think of the color ‘sun-dried tomatoes’!?”) We have all caught ourselves being swayed by these catchy names, but it can be hard to separate a color from an impression you have formed about it. Remaining objective is an important part of the formula for creating beautiful spaces in your home.
By the way, do you want to learn more about how paint company marketers influence your paint color decisions?
If so, check out this blog post: “How a Paint Company Lures You in with Their Color Wheel Display”
Or do you need to know exactly how to choose the best paint color for your home?
If so, this article will give you everything you need to know: “Best Paint Color Ideas”
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If so, this will be exactly what you’ve been looking for: Paint Color Miracle ™