While it can be tricky naming a pet or child, most of us only have to do it once in a while. But when you work for a company like Resene which has thousands of paint colours identified by name, choosing them all is an ongoing job.
Resene’s Marketing Manager Karen Warman says they have a list of over 10,000 potential names that have been collected over the years, which is always being referred back to when new colours come along.
"Name ideas can come from anywhere, something someone says in a conversation, ideas from customers, ideas from staff and favourite elements of current culture," she says. "Popular things in culture will come and go, like the year the movie Madagascar came out and we had at least 20 people suggest it as a colour name." Members of the public can also submit their suggestions here.
Warman says the best names all have things in common. They are reasonably short (between one and three words), are easy to remember, different to what is already in use and have a personality that suits the colour they are paired with. "Some colours, such as bold colours, suit attention grabbing names while some suit more subtle names. The key is finding the colour name that perfectly fits each colour. It’s surprising how certain words automatically conjure up a specific colour in your mind."
While they have thousands of colours already named in their core range, every couple of years Resene launches a trends fandeck containing around 100 new fashion colours that all need to be named appropriately. "The easiest colours to name are the bold reds, oranges and yellows as they seem to have so much personality that it’s easy to pick interesting names for them," Warman says. "In fact, we already have names for many of these colours we have kept year after year just waiting for the right colour to come up. The hardest colours to name are usually greens, browns and beiges."
Once a colour is named there isn’t usually an opportunity to change it – although there is the odd exception to this rule. For instance, the Resene Heritage colour chart used to have a shade called 'Drab' which historically was the word used to describe a light greyish brown.
"One day, a lovely lady rang us up asking us to please change the colour because she had painted her lounge in the colour and absolutely loved it, but was too embarrassed to say the name when her friends asked what it was," Warman says. "That colour has been renamed since."
Warman’s personal favourites are names that are fun and have personality. She singles out Resene Smitten, which is a bold pink; Resene Happy, an optimistic yellow; Resene Daredevil, a bold orange and Resene Surfs Up, a deep blue; as favourites. “I also love the ones that remind me of my favourite kiwi things, such as Resene Pohutukawa and Resene Pukeko and favourite places like Resene Woody Bay, named after Woody Bay on Rakino Island and Resene Piha Sand.”
Some other playful names to be found in the range include Resene Long Shot, a bright purple that was forecast as a trend but was considered so bold it would be unusual for someone to choose it, and Resene Last Chance, the final paint chip out of hundreds of colours in a Resene Whites & Neutrals fandeck from a few years ago.
Unsurprisingly, the top selling colours are all whites, blacks and neutrals, with Resene Alabaster, Resene Sea Fog, Resene Rice Cake and Resene White Pointer (and their various tint levels) dominating the list. That’s not just because we are all painting our homes white, but also because even the most colourful homes usually have at least some whites or neutrals on walls, trims and joinery. And, as the options for lighting a home have improved, decorators are now more likely to choose either light or dark tones for their homes, with mid-tones proving less popular.
So, what is the best-selling colour of them all? That’d be Resene Black White, a soft grey-toned white, once known as the go-to white for architects and now the most popular shade with the rest of us too.