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Baffled. Enthralled. Amused. Maybe even insulted. Those are just a few of the reactions you might experience when encountering a nail polish name. But whatever the emotion it elicits, top-marketing executives agree that the name of the shade is nearly as important as the color itself.

So who is in charge of such an important task? It all depends.

At Lippmann Polish, founder, creator, and CEO Deborah Lippmann develops the names herself. Considering her passion for music and singing, it is not a coincidence that she uses popular song titles like "Baby Blue Eyes" and "Across the Universe" as names for her shades. Shade naming is also very personal for Essie founder Essie Weingarten, whose inspirations include a fascination with Old Hollywood ("Leading Lady").

For other polish companies, shade naming is a group affair. Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder/artistic director of OPI, gathers together a small group of staffers, and for 6-8 hours the team reviews previously submitted names and brainstorms candidates for OPI's new offerings. A melding of minds is also the method at Butter London: Its names are jointly developed by Katie Jane Hughes, the company's global color ambassador, and its product development team.

And then there are companies that prefer to work with outside branding or advertising agencies. Which is how we found ourselves in the delightful position of developing 27 soon-to-launch shade names for Tutti, an upscale nail and spa located throughout the United States.

Here is a high-level look at how we approached the project, along with some tips and techniques that might prove useful for brand managers, marketing executives, or indie polish developers tasked with creating monikers for their lacquers.

Base Coat: Before the Naming Begins

As with every naming project, it is important to have a clear sense of the company's customer base and the company's personality; they are crucial to name development. Considering Tutti's positioning as an elegant brand and its affluent, more mature market, we immediately ruled out irreverent names; they might work well with fashion-forward millennials, but they would be off-brand for Tutti.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Margaret Wolfson

Margaret Wolfson is founder and chief creative of River + Wolf, an award-winning NYC naming agency with clients around the globe.

LinkedIn: Margaret Wolfson

image of Jacqueline Lisk

Jacqueline Lisk is founder of JR Lisk Inc., a writer, marketing strategist, and naming specialist who regularly partners with River+Wolf.

LinkedIn: Jacqueline Lisk

Twitter: @Jlisk1