There are a few different spellings for the color that falls between black and white on the color spectrum. The most common spellings are “gray” and “grey.” So how does Crayola, one of the most popular and recognizable brands of crayons and art supplies, spell this color? Let’s take a closer look.
A Brief History of Crayola
Crayola has been making art supplies, especially crayons, for over 100 years. The company was founded in 1885 by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. They created a line of wax crayons they first called Crayola, a combination of the French word “craie” (which means “chalk”) and “ola” for “oleaginous” or “oily.” Their first box of Crayola crayons debuted in 1903 with 8 colors. Since then, Crayola has introduced dozens of specialty crayon sets with creative names and clever color options.
Over the decades, Crayola has become known for its recognizable branding. From the classic Crayola logo to the iconic green and yellow crayon boxes, Crayola has cemented itself as a leader in art supplies for children and adults alike. Part of their success has been in carefully naming each crayon color. Crayola puts a lot of thought into the names they choose, opting for creative and descriptive color names that will resonate with customers.
The Crayola Color Spectrum
Crayola currently produces 120 standard crayon colors, divided into core colors, specialty colors, and retired colors no longer available. Their colors cover the full visible spectrum, ranging from reds, oranges, and yellows to greens, blues, purples, browns, and neutrals.
Over the decades, Crayola has refined their color selection to include on-trend shades and creative specialty options. They also regularly retire colors that are not top sellers and introduce new options to keep their crayon assortment fresh and exciting for each new generation.
The Name for Gray in Crayola History
So in this diverse selection of distinctive Crayola crayon monikers, how have they spelled the neutral color between black and white over the years? Crayola actually has a bit of history when it comes to naming the color gray.
Let’s go back to the early 1900s, when Crayola was first introducing their crayon products. One of the original Crayola crayon colors in 1903 was a medium gray called “Light Slate Gray.” This elegant name evoked images of polished stone.
In 1958, Crayola changed the name of Light Slate Gray to simply “Slate Gray.” The name was updated, but the spelling as one word without an “e” remained.
Then in 1990, Crayola changed the name again, this time shortening it to just “Gray.” Dropping the “slate” reference entirely resulted in an understated, minimalist name for the plain gray crayon.
However, Crayola didn’t stop there. Just four years later in 1994, they changed the name once again to the version we know today: “Grey.” Adding the “e” to gray creates the most common spelling variation for the color.
So while they originally used the “gray” version, Crayola ultimately transitioned to the “grey” spelling. It’s likely they updated the name to align with the widely accepted British spelling of the color.
Crayola’s Color Naming Process
Choosing creative color names is a serious business for Crayola. According to the company, all potential crayon color names go through a rigorous naming process. What is this process?
First, the Crayola marketing team brainstorms and vets hundreds of potential names. They aim for names that will appeal to children but also sound appealing when parents say them. The goal is to develop names that are highly descriptive, imaginative, and capture the essence of each color.
Next, Crayola conducts child testing with target age groups. They get feedback directly from kids on which names resonate with them. The children’s preferences help narrow down the name options.
Then cultural and linguistic testing is done. Crayola evaluates which names translate well into other languages and cultures. They ensure names will be understandable around the world.
Finally, senior leadership, including the CEO, review the remaining names and give final approval. The new crayon color names officially “graduate” at this point.
Following this extensive process allows Crayola to introduce creative color names like “Jazzberry Jam,” “Tickle Me Pink,” and “Mango Tango.” For gray, transitioning from “Slate Gray” to “Grey” created an up-to-date spelling fitting the Crayola brand.
Crayola Gray vs. Grey in Marketing
A quick review of Crayola’s website and product packaging shows they exclusively use the “grey” spelling in marketing and branding their gray crayon. For example:
– On the standard 120-count crayon box, the gray crayon is clearly listed as “Grey.”
– In product descriptions online, the gray crayon is shown as “Grey.”
– The baby and toddler line “My First Crayola” includes a shape crayon called “Grey Circle.”
– Crayola’s website features a “Colors of the World” crayon pack with specially named multicultural crayons. The gray shade is called “Dazzling Grey.”
So while they may have wavered between gray/grey in the past, Crayola has firmly chosen the “grey” version for all marketing and packaging. This standardization helps reinforce Crayola’s brand identity and recognition.
Usage Statistics: Gray vs. Grey
Beyond just Crayola’s usage, it can be helpful to look at overall usage statistics for these two spelling variants in the English language:
|Gray||More common in American English|
|Grey||More common in British English|
According to Google ngram data, “gray” makes up 70% of usage, while “grey” is 30%.
Some key facts:
– In American English, “gray” is the preferred spelling by a significant margin.
– In British English, “grey” is preferred.
– In Canadian English, both spellings are common.
– In Australia and New Zealand, “grey” is the standard spelling.
So “gray” may be the more statistically common variant, but “grey” is preferred in multiple regions. Crayola likely opted for “grey” to appeal to these broad English-language markets.
Crayola Product Lines Using Grey
Crayola uses the “grey” spelling extensively across their product lines beyond just the classic crayons. Some examples include:
– Crayola Supertips markers: Available in “Stormy Grey”
– Crayola Colored Pencils: Feature a pencil called “Slate Grey”
– Crayola Scribble Scrubbies: Come in a “Grey” option
– Crayola Model Magic: Can be purchased in “Grey” modeling compound
– Crayola Silly Scents: Includes a “Grey” scented crayon
– Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Markers: Offer a “Granite Grey” marker
Clearly, Crayola views “grey” as the standard spelling for their products. Using it communicates consistency across their various brands.
Why Spell it Grey Instead of Gray?
We’ve established Crayola uses “grey” instead of “gray” in their products, but why? What factors might be behind this choice?
Here are some of the likely reasons Crayola opted for “grey” as their standard:
– Brand consistency: By picking one spelling, it reinforces brand recognition.
– International marketing: “Grey” translates more directly into other languages than “gray.”
– Distinctive spelling: The “e” in “grey” differentiates the word at a glance.
– British English: Crayola may have favored British spelling conventions.
– Visual appeal: Some may perceive “grey” as more elegant or eye-catching.
– Phonemic matches: “Grey” matches phonetic sounds more directly than “gray.”
While both are accepted spellings, the reasons above probably led Crayola to standardize on “grey” over time. It simply works better for their global brand.
In conclusion, while Crayola originally used “gray,” they have evolved to use “grey” as the spelling for their gray crayons and colored art supplies. This lines up with statistics showing “grey” is preferred in British English, which may influence Crayola’s word choice. They likely changed the spelling to “grey” because it is more visually distinctive, aligns phonetically with pronunciations, and gives Crayola a standardized branding. So the next time you use a Grey Crayola crayon, you can marvel at the history behind Crayola’s intricately named colors.