Ever Choose a Nail Color Because You Like the Name? You’ll Want to Read This.


One of the most fun things about wearing and shopping for makeup is seeing all the creative names your favorite brands—in particular, nail polish brands—dream up for new color releases. “Ladies and Magenta-men,” “I Have a Herring Problem,” “Tart with a Heart,” seriously, where do they come up with this stuff? In attempt to decode how they do it so brilliantly and continuously, on such a vast scale, we got representatives from a few brands we love to divulge the secrets behind the name game. Their strategies, from holding casual naming parties with family and friends (and drinks!) to intense brainstorming sessions held behind closed doors, are everything you would’ve hoped to hear.

Cult Nails: Theme Team

Some our favorite Cult Nails names

“Once we finalize the colors for a collection, we start to come up with a theme. Themes in the past have been inspired by events going on in our lives that everyone can relate to such as “Dance All Night Collection," or simply fabricated out of our imagination, like “Divas and Drama Collection”. After the theme is nailed down, we start brainstorming ideas for names that could work within it. For example, for our  Cult Fairy Tale Collection we released  “Evil Queen,” and for our Inaugural Collection, we came out with slightly subversive takes on the idea of inauguration: “Quench” and “My Kind of Cool Aid.”

We want the naming process to be as organic as possible and also fun. I love one-word names that really say something about the color, like the holographic periwinkle “Intriguing,” the glittery purple “Spontaneous,” and the sparkling midnight black “Ignite.” I feel like these can help express a mood or how you want to feel that day. We try not to get too racy and also try to stay away from referencing specific movies, shows, and songs.

We’re always open to suggestions, too, and love when friends, family, and customers give us ideas. We have friends who really get into it and text or e-mail us once they know the theme. Inviting people over with the polishes out and a few drinks in hand can be a fun way to get the naming done! There’s no one method that always works, and some are easier than others. It’s like naming your kid—the name has to be perfect.”

Maria Morrison, founder of Cult Nails | shop Cult Nails here

butter LONDON: Ace Anglophiles

Some of our favorite butter LONDON names

  • Giddy Kipper, a shimmery indigo / slang for “overly excited person”
  • Sloane Ranger, an olive with shimmer / a term used to describe yuppies from South West London
  • Cake-Hole, opaque bright pink / slang for “mouth”
  • Scouse, sheer, royal blue duochrome with glitter / a term used to refer to a person from Liverpool

“The naming process is a collaborative effort between myself and the butter LONDON product development team. Naming parties are held at butter LONDON’s headquarters in Seattle every few months. We take a look at the collection and start tossing out ideas. The names generally reference people, places, and foods from London, but we like to put a cheeky spin on them. Including myself, there are a few Brits on the team, so that helps with the fun names.

For example, a crystallized purple lacquer that was designed when news of the royal baby broke was named “Pitter Patter.” And one of the newest shades, the electric blue “Airy Fairy,” is Brit slang for something unrealistic. We like to have fun with it, and sometimes naming a lacquer is super easy and organic. Other times we really have to dig deep!”

Katie Jane Hughes, Global Colour Ambassador for butter LONDON

OPI: Playful punsters

Some of our favorite OPI names

  • Vampsterdam, a deep plum from the 2012 Holland Collection
  • I Eat Mainely Lobster, a pink-coral with shimmer from the 2011 Touring America Collection
  • You Don’t Know Jacques!, a taupe from the 2008 La Collection de France
  • A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find, an orange creme from the 2010 Hong Kong Collection

“There’s a group of six people at OPI who go behind closed doors to brainstorm hundreds of potential monikers for the new colors. We order food and bring in props and images for inspiration! During these sessions, we channel each other’s creativity to come up with unique and interesting names for every shade. For destination-based collections, which we launch twice a year, the group will play upon distinctive or noteworthy elements from the country or city in question. For example, we just launched the Brazil collection for this summer’s World Cup, which offers shades like “OPI Scored a Goal!” (a rich chocolate brown), the nude “Taupeless Beach”, and the bright yellow “I Just Can’t Cope-acabana”. We come up with literally hundreds of names for consideration.

We know that OPI lacquer names are special and that it’s an important part of the brand. Customers are always turning over OPI bottles to see which names catch their attention. When picking between two hues, someone might make a choice because the name makes them laugh, or reminds them of a special life moment. Other names allow you to travel with OPI to places you could only ever imagine visiting, and with a polish, you can hold a piece of that place in your hands.”

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and executive vice president of OPI

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