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How are nail polishes named?

How are nail polishes named?


Nail polish names are carefully chosen by beauty brands to appeal to their target audiences. The names often aim to evoke certain feelings, convey attributes of the polish, or tie into trending themes. Brands take a very strategic approach when naming their nail lacquers.

Some quick answers to questions about how nail polishes get their names:

– Brands consider their target consumer, pricing, shelf appeal, trends, and marketing when naming polishes.

– Names usually aim to be catchy, descriptive, on-trend, or tie into the brand image.

– Popular approaches are using color names, numbers, moods, destinations, food, romance, and pop culture.

– A huge amount of thought, research, and testing goes into nail polish names before they hit store shelves.

– Names are meant to grab the consumer’s attention and get them excited to try the polish.

– Sometimes celebrity collaborations or influencer input will inspire certain nail polish names.

– Over time, iconic polish names can become an important part of a brand’s identity and customer loyalty.

Factors That Influence Nail Polish Names

Beauty brands think carefully about the target consumer when naming their nail polishes. The name needs to resonate with the typical customer and their preferences. Here are some key factors that impact nail lacquer names:

Target Customer

Brands have a very specific customer in mind when developing nail polish lines. For example, a polish aimed at teens may have fun, trendy names while sophisticated brands target women with polished, elegant names.


Nail polish prices influence naming strategies. Premium brands gravitate toward elegant, creative names that justify the higher price point. More affordable lines often have descriptive, to-the-point names.

Shelf Appeal

The name has to stand out among the crowds of polishes on store shelves. Unique, eye-catching names help polishes make an impact in-store.


Nail polish names reflect current fashion, pop culture, and lifestyle trends. Brands analyze trend data to make their polish names feel fresh and relevant.

Brand Identity

Names are chosen to align with the overall brand image. For example, a bold brand like Urban Decay tends to favor edgier polish names.


Global brands consider how names translate into different languages and cultures. Names need to resonate across diverse markets.


Nail polish names are a key part of marketing campaigns. Brands aim for names that are memorable and inspire social media buzz.

Common Nail Polish Naming Approaches

There are a few tried and true formulas that brands rely on when naming their trendy nail lacquers.

Color Names

The most straightforward approach is naming polishes after their color. Examples include Ruby Rouge, Mint Julep, Cream Pink, Lavender Bliss, etc. This makes the shades easy to identify.


Some brands assign numbers to their polishes instead of names. Dior and YSL use numbers like #999, 537, and so on. This can feel cleaner and more elegant.


Nail polish names often evoke feelings, emotions, and attitudes. Examples include Fearless, Girl Boss, Moody, and Dangerous. This helps the polish feel aspirational.


Fun, exotic locales make popular nail polish names. Examples include Caribbean Escape, Road to Milan, Greek Isles, Paris Nights, etc. This imbues the polish with a sense of travel and adventure.

Food and Drink

Yummy food and beverage themes inspire many polish names. Examples include Pistachio Cream, Raspberry Beret, Champagne Toast, Dulce de Leche, Mint Julep, and Cherry Coke. This gives polishes a tasty, indulgent vibe.

Romance and Relationships

Some brand play up romance and relationships when naming shades. Examples include First Kiss, In the Mood, Forever Yours, Partner in Crime, and Date Night. These fun, playful names appeal to many consumers.

Pop Culture

Polishes are often named after celebrities, movies, songs, books, and TV shows that are currently popular. Examples include names like Selena, Glamazons, Bad Blood, Gossip Girl, and Dancing Queen.


Puns and plays on words are a clever way to name polishes. Examples include Mind Your Magentas, A-Rose At Dawn A-Rose, Got The Blues For Red, and All Tangled Up. Puns help names stand out.

Inspiring Words

Some polish names contain inspiring words to empower the wearer. Examples include Fearless, Motivate, Dreamer, Inspired, Courage, Magic, and Empower.


Natural elements like flowers, plants, gems, and minerals are featured in many polish names. Examples include Daisy, Lilac, Rose Gold, Violette, Sage, Jade, and Onyx.

Textures and Finishes

The texture is sometimes featured in the polish name, like Glitterazzi, Matte About You, Shine Like Diamonds, and Sequins. This helps identify special effect polishes.

The Naming Process

Naming a nail polish collection takes significant time, effort, and research on the part of beauty brands. Here is an overview of the detailed process:

Trend Analysis

Brands start by analyzing fashion, lifestyle, and cultural trends for what will resonate with their target audience. Social media listening provides insight.

Competitor Research

Looking at competitors helps brands identify naming opportunities and see what is oversaturated. They want their names to stand apart.

Mood Boards

Brands often create visual mood boards with images, textures, and words that reflect the vibe of the upcoming collection. This provides naming inspiration.


Potential names go through rigorous consumer testing and focus groups. Feedback helps refine and improve the collection names.

Legal Checks

The legal team screens each name to ensure there are no trademark conflicts. Names must be legally cleared.


For global brands, names are translated to ensure they resonate appropriately in other languages and cultures.

Shelf Appeal

Mock ups with the potential names help brands evaluate how the polishes will look on crowded store shelves. This also informs name choices.

Why Naming Is Important

With so much competition, a catchy, compelling polish name can sway the consumer. Here is why the name makes a major difference:

Grabs Attention

The name is the first touchpoint to capture the customer’s interest among a sea of choices.

Conveys Attributes

A descriptive name helps communicate what the polish looks and feels like.

Sparks Intrigue

Unique, creative names spark curiosity and intrigue that converts browsers into buyers.

Drives Hype

Buzzy polish names generate social media hype, word of mouth, and PR opportunities.

Reinforces Brand Identity

Names allow brands to further establish their image and personality.

Builds Loyalty

Iconic polish names become ingrained in the consumer’s mind over time.

Commands Higher Price

Clever, premium-sounding names help justify a higher price point.

Examples of Popular Nail Polish Names

Here are some examples of wildly popular nail polish names over the years:

Polish Name Brand Notes
Bubble Bath OPI Iconic soft pink polish
Ruby Woo MAC Cult classic red shade
Black Onyx Chanel Luxurious deep black
Mademoiselle Essie Classic sheer pink
Lincoln Park After Dark OPI Dark vampy purple
Where’s My Chauffeur? OPI Metallic red name plays on brands’ clever style

These examples showcase how evocative, memorable names become beauty icons over time. The name itself builds brand equity and consumer recognition.

Key Takeaways

– Nail polish names require extensive thought and strategy by beauty brands.

– The target consumer, pricing, trends, and brand identity shape the naming process.

– Popular approaches include using color names, numbers, locations, food terms, and pop culture.

– Names aim to grab attention on crowded shelves and spark intrigue.

– Iconic polish names can drive sales and reinforce brand loyalty over time.

– A huge amount of research, testing, and legal checks go into nail lacquer naming.


Nail polish names are carefully crafted to capture the target consumer’s attention and convey specific attributes about each lacquer. Brands analyze trends, competitors, and their own brand identity to come up with names that will resonate. The name serves as the critical first touchpoint to create intrigue and build brand recognition. Over time, hit nail polish names can become beauty icons closely tied to the brand image. The naming process requires deep strategy to find the polish name that sticks. So next time you peruse the nail polish aisle, remember the art and science behind how those creative colors got their names.