“Perpetual plum”: Colour naming strategies in Maybelline’s lip products
Keywords:ESP, colour terminology, verbal image, naming, lipstick, cosmetics
This study deals with the particularities of “constructed nameables” (Wyler, 2007, p. 117), that is, colour terminology in the context of cosmetic products, more specifically, of lipstick colour names by the cosmetic company Maybelline. How these nameables are created (i.e. word formation processes) and the imagery exploited (i.e. themes) in order to be memorable in a competitive market are the focus of this study. For this purpose, a sample of four lipstick collections with a total of seventy-six shades was manually collected from their official webpage (www.maybelline.com). The analysis reveals the predominance of two nomenclatures: morfosyntactic and semantic. The former is intended to capture the consumer’s attention by deviating from the expected. This is carried out by means of both hyphenated expressions, such as pink-for-me, mauve-for-me or plum-for-me, and with the use of the determiner more and secondary colour terms, like in more taupe, more magenta or more truffle, among others. The latter aims at seducing the consumer by exploiting theme consistency based on either romance and compulsion (e.g. magenta affair, pink fetish) or on colour longevity (e.g. everlasting wine, eternal cherry). In some cases, these are also combined with alliteration (e.g. timeless toffee, continuous coral, committed coral, perpetual plum) and assonance (e.g. steady red-y) to further appeal to the consumer. The results and conclusions point to the paramount importance of colour terminology in cosmetic verbal identity (Allen and Simmons, 2003). These colour names contribute to a coherent and homogeneous lip product range organization that is highly memorable and attention-grabbing.
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