By Jennifer Shapira
When Rockville, Maryland-based McCormick Paints planned to introduce a new gray neutral (based on gray’s ongoing popularity) to add to its interior white palette, the color needed a name. After six months of deliberating, the team selected River Stone.
Just how did that become the winning name?
“I did a lot of brainstorming and thinking about the mood that we wanted to portray,” says Katie Ryan, McCormick Paints’ marketing and communications manager, without using the word gray in the name. The company gave employees a chance to play word games and name the color, and over time they whittled down the top contenders. The team landed on River Stone (006) because the mash-up of those two words conveyed a modern, updated gray.
The whole process starts with a team of experts closely examining the ongoing study of forecasted trends in interior design, fashion and travel. Very often, says Liz Stone, color expert at McCormick Paints, paints get named thanks to interest in local and far-flung destinations (Annapolis Grey, 228; Sunset in Italy, 0911), favorite foods (Mom’s Apple Pie, 0988) and happy holidays (Christmas Ornament, 0186).
Color experts, with their practiced eyes, have to think hard about what the color really looks like (Buttered Popcorn, 0843; Golf Day 0767) and the feelings it might evoke—that is, pairing it with “something that has a connotation … that is kind of a word picture,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “You want to make it not only evocative but in some cases romantic or exciting—something that gives people an indication of what the color means, what the emotional impact of the color is.”
Of Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year, Eiseman says, “I love Marsala (18-438) because I love the idea of cooking with it and having something nurturing to eat. And yet, it’s glamorous at the same time.”