How Do Makeup Shades Get Their Names?


What’s in a name? Quite a bit if it’s a lipstick, cheek stain, or nail polish. (After all, would OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark by any other name sound as cool?) Cosmetic marketing execs spend hours crafting the perfect monikers for their products. “Creating a name for a lipstick can honestly make it or break it,” Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ founder David Klasfeld explained to xovain.com last year. “Sometimes people will buy a shade simply because of the name, without any intent to use it.”

Specific methods vary from brand to brand. Nail guru Deborah Lippmann, for example, names all of her polishes after song titles “because I’m a jazz singer and so passionate about music,” while Nars founder Francois Nars—the man who created the label’s popular Orgasm blush—just aims to make a splash. “I gave the products names to make them more special, to bring them to life, to give them a personality,” he has said. “I wanted it to really click for women; I wanted them to remember the given product. It’s no longer just a tube of lipstick—it’s a movie or a character that you can identify with, a destination you travel to through products and colors. The names make the product ‘larger-than-life.’”

At most companies, naming products is a group effort. One exception: Essie. Founder Essie Weingarten dreams up the names for her lacquers—think Ballet Slippers and Marshmallow—solo. “I have creative people help suggest names, and some of them are really good!” she said in 2011. “But in the end, I decide.” At Urban Decay, employees can send suggestions that are filed away into a name library. For their “Vice” palettes options are categorized “into like ‘sex names,’ ‘drug names,’” co-founder and creative director Wende Zomnir has explained, “and when you think of a good name you put it into the name library.”

In Benefit’s San Francisco offices, regular naming meetings take place on Thursday mornings. “There are usually about ten of us gathered around our tin table, munching on Skittles and M&M's,” co-founder Jane Ford told Huffington Post in 2011. “The process is always done by democracy, everyone needs to buy into the name, whether it's a product name or shade name. Everyone votes, there are no egos and when we get it right everyone just lights up. We start by blurting out name ideas and then we vote thumbs up or thumbs down for our favorites. We don't try to be clever or witty, we try to come up with names that will make people laugh.”

Nail company OPI uses a similar process to craft its punny labels. They’ll fill a conference room with inspiration—if it’s a travel-themed collection, for example, there will be food from the country in question—and invite those with a knack for wordplay. CEO Suzi Weiss-Fischmann has joked it’s “six crazy people from marketing, Susan from purchasing and Elaine from customer service.” And they take the gig seriously—to name a 12-shade collection takes roughly eight hours!

Why a Readily Available Used Paperback Is Selling for Thousands of Dollars on Amazon

At first glance, getting ahold of a copy of One Snowy Knight, a historical romance novel by Deborah MacGillivray, isn't hard at all. You can get the book, which originally came out in 2009, for a few bucks on Amazon. And yet according to one seller, a used copy of the book is worth more than $2600. Why? As The New York Times reports, this price disparity has more to do with the marketing techniques of Amazon's third-party sellers than it does the market value of the book.

As of June 5, a copy of One Snowy Knight was listed by a third-party seller on Amazon for $2630.52. By the time the Times wrote about it on July 15, the price had jumped to $2800. That listing has since disappeared, but a seller called Supersonic Truck still has a used copy available for $1558.33 (plus shipping!). And it's not even a rare book—it was reprinted in July.

The Times found similar listings for secondhand books that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than their market price. Those retailers might not even have the book on hand—but if someone is crazy enough to pay $1500 for a mass-market paperback that sells for only a few dollars elsewhere, that retailer can make a killing by simply snapping it up from somewhere else and passing it on to the chump who placed an order with them.

Not all the prices for used books on Amazon are so exorbitant, but many still defy conventional economic wisdom, offering used copies of books that are cheaper to buy new. You can get a new copy of the latest edition of One Snowy Knight for $16.99 from Amazon with Prime shipping, but there are third-party sellers asking $24 to $28 for used copies. If you're not careful, how much you pay can just depend on which listing you click first, thinking that there's not much difference in the price of used books. In the case of One Snowy Knight, there are different listings for different editions of the book, so you might not realize that there's a cheaper version available elsewhere on the site.

An Amazon product listing offers a mass-market paperback book for $1558.33.
Screenshot, Amazon

Even looking at reviews might not help you find the best listing for your money. People tend to buy products with the most reviews, rather than the best reviews, according to recent research, but the site is notorious for retailers gaming the system with fraudulent reviews to attract more buyers and make their way up the Amazon rankings. (There are now several services that will help you suss out whether the reviews on a product you're looking at are legitimate.)

For more on how Amazon's marketplace works—and why its listings can sometimes be misleading—we recommend listening to this episode of the podcast Reply All, which has a fascinating dive into the site's third-party seller system.

[h/t The New York Times]

Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]


More from mental floss studios