Behind the Scenes: Naming Paint Colors for Emerald® Designer Edition™

Ever wonder how a paint color gets its name? Our Director of Color Marketing, Sue Wadden, created a brand-new collection of 200 hues all in need of their own name. From local shoutouts to fan-favorite winners, get a behind-the-scenes look at our Emerald® Designer Edition™ collection and how these hues came to life.

Collage of Emerald Designer Edition paint dollops, room interiors and director of color marketing Sue Wadden

Q: Can you give us a little backstory on how Emerald® Designer Edition™ came to be? 

A: Absolutely! This was a super exciting project not only because it’s our best-in-class product, but it’s tied to 200 new colors available only in Emerald® Designer Edition™. There were some color gaps that we really needed to build into our current color offerings and that’s how this collection came to be. After analyzing our customer’s needs, we added cool neutrals, warm neutrals, chromatics, and blues and greens to round out our assortment – it’s a beautiful collection of color that takes your projects to the next level.

Sue Wadden, director of color marketing, surveying moodboards for Emerald Designer Edition.

Q: What did the color naming process look like?

A: After we defined what the new color space was going to be, we needed to create a unique signature for each color. Then we went line by line, color by color, and just started where any creative process does – brainstorming away. If I’m looking at a soft white, what are some of the words that come to mind? Cloudy, puffy, snowy. We do that whiteboarding for as many colors as we can before we start cross-referencing our archive of existing and retired color names to make sure we’re coming up with something unique.

Q: Where did you draw the main inspiration for the names?

A: Overall, this collection is elevated with a sophisticated look and feel, and I really wanted the names to be as equally beautiful and long-lasting as the colors themselves. We wound up leaning into nature and architectural elements for the color name inspiration because they fit the gravitas of the collection perfectly.

Q: Our employees (and DIYers) joined in on the naming, too – can you tell our readers a little bit about that?

A: We don’t create new colors often, so we wanted this to be a special moment for everyone. We had employees be part of the color naming process for the first time, and the submissions we got were incredible. We crowdsourced hundreds of ideas and narrowed them down to our top two names for each of the five colors that were part of the contest. Then, we let our fans vote for their favorites to become official color names. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was so cool to see.

Collage of Emerald Designer Edition paint dollops

Fun Fact: The winning color names were Fresh Eucalyptus  (Robert D.), Taupe of the Morning (Logan B.), Sunny Side Up (Kevin B.), Before the Storm (Victoria M.) and Frost Bite (Michelle F.). 

Q: Some of the new color names pay homage to our company’s Cleveland roots – why was it important to weave in a little CLE love?

A: I love, love, love local pride and could not miss the chance to celebrate the fabulous city we’re from. Whether it’s Crooked River, which is a nod to the Cuyahoga River, or Prospect, which is a nod to the street Sherwin-Williams is headquartered on, there’s a handful of names threaded throughout the collection that are inspired by major Cleveland landmarks.

Collage of Cleveland photos and Emerald Designer Edition color dollops.

Q: Do you have a favorite color name (or two)?

A: Oh gosh, that’s tough. In a way, these colors are like my legacy, so I really do love them all. I adore the color names with clever alliterations like Tangled Twine or Slumber Sloth, but I also love the ones that evoke a sense of emotion like Serendipity does. If I had to pick just one though, it’d be Rose Pink for my daughter Reilly. The name Reilly doesn’t exist in the French vernacular, so her French name is Rose. 

And that’s how a color gets its name! Check out the hues of Emerald Designer Edition in person with color sample ordering and drop a comment below to share your favorite color name from the collection.

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