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Car colours: What’s in a name?

Sep 11, 2017

A Pantone Expert Explains How A Colour’s Name Can Speak Volumes

Toyota Corolla iM in Electric Blue

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but would you really want your car’s paint colour to be called “dark red” when it could be “black cherry?”

If you chose the cherry, you’re not alone. A 2006 research study found that names of colours significantly impacted our reaction to the colour themselves.

“Colours elicit strong emotional reactions, as do the names given to these colours,” explains Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. “The moment we hear a colour name, our perception of this same colour is immediately changed.”

How car colours get their names

Names may stimulate our emotions, but they’re also a useful way to distinguish from the many car colour varieties on the market. Over 70% of cars purchased around the world today are white, black, grey or silver. On first glance, two shades of grey might appear quite similar. However, once you learn that one’s named “Soft Heather” and the other’s “Cold Steel,” you’ll likely see them in a different light.

A lot of effort goes into picking a colour name that is equal parts distinctive, evocative, and mysterious. So how do they do it?

“First and foremost we look at the colour itself,” says Pressman. “What immediately comes to mind when viewing the colour is the most important influence in determining its name. This helps ensure a clear association between name and colour, and a more organic emotional connection to the colour.”

The moment we hear a colour name, our perception of this same colour is immediately changed.

The naming process isn’t just personal. Colours can have a unique effect on us based on our cultural backgrounds. Yellow is cheery to North Americans, while in Germany it’s the colour of jealousy, and in Latin America it’s the colour of mourning.

“We also take into consideration global recognition,” notes Pressman. “Because our colour palette is global, we try to name our colours in such a way that all of our clients around the world can easily understand our colour names.”

Analyzing the Corolla iM Hatchback paint names 

The Corolla iM hatchback has exterior paint colours — and paint colour names — to suit any personality. Let’s take a deep dive into the names and how they might stir their owners’ emotions.

Blizzard Pearl

Pearlescent paint provides a subtle shimmer that highlights a car’s unique architectural features. But this paint is far from delicate—the word “Blizzard” might convey feelings of adventure and excitement, while also referencing how the iM exterior can withstand even the worst weather conditions.

Classic Silver Metallic

A perennial favourite, sleek silver will never go out of style. This colour’s simple and straightforward name could be perfect for drivers who want their cars to convey classic poise and professionalism without any strong emotional connotations.

Black Sand Pearl

Black’s a neutral colour, but this paint name might conjure up vibrant images of the black sand beaches of Hawaii, Iceland, or Bali. By eliciting feelings of relaxation and serenity, this name should speak to drivers searching for a calm commute (who still have a taste for the intrepid and exotic).

Barcelona Red Metallic

Red has always been an emotionally stimulating colour. This deep and fiery red comes with a name that also invokes the legendary Spanish city’s rich culture and sultry rhythm, upping the emotional ante for its romantic and rule-breaking riders.

Spring Green

Bright, breezy, and refreshing, the name “Spring Green” proves this cheerful shade of chartreuse will be ideal for injecting a little sunshine into your commute during those long Canadian winters.

Electric Storm Blue

alt= This vibrant and energizing blue announces its arrival like a lightning strike. Blue may be North America’s favourite colour, but a name like “Electric Storm” shows that this colour could be best-suited to thrillseekers.

Learn More: Explore the Toyota Corolla iM Hatchback Here