Color Dayinterviews

Color Day 2013: Interview with a Color Marketer

by Grace Bonney

When we first started planning Color Day earlier this year, I knew I wanted to interview someone who had a hand in naming paints or choosing what colors a paint company would release each season. I’m always fascinated by the names companies choose for their paints so I was excited to ask Jackie Jordan a few questions. She’s been working with Sherwin-Williams since college and is now their Director of Color Marketing, focusing on the creation of new collections, color trends and, my favorite, paint names. Thanks so much to Jackie for giving us a little behind-the-scenes peek at the life of a color marketer. xo, grace

The full interview continues after the jump…

This post is brought to you by Sherwin-Williams.  Turn your inspiration into reality with Sherwin-Williams Color Selection Tools.

Design*Sponge: Could you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you grew up and what did you study in school?

Jackie: I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and was always fascinated with craft and color and eventually interiors. I was one of those fortunate people who knew well before starting college that Interior Design was what I wanted to study and I did just that, receiving my BA in Interior Design from Kent State University. I love anything related to color and design and also have a passion for jewelry making. I am a chairholder in the Color Marketing Group, an international color forecasting organization and an industry member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and IIDA (International Interior Design Association).

Design*Sponge: How did you first start working with paint or Sherwin-Williams?

Jackie: I started working for Sherwin-Williams a couple years after graduating from college. It was by pure chance that someone mentioned Sherwin-Williams, and an opportunity with the company that intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go. I started in one of our paint stores. That experience gave me a much greater understanding of color as well as product and application and that experience enabled me to advance from there.

Design*Sponge: How would you describe your job?

Jackie: In addition to being probably the best job in the company, I would describe it as a whirlwind of creativity, travel, interaction and inspiration that gets translated in various ways to inspire our customers with color and design ideas. Things like videos, color selection tools, trend presentations and our STIR magazine tablet app are just a few of the creative projects I am involved in.

Design*Sponge: What is the best part of your job?

Jackie: The best part of my job is having the great fortune of traveling to so many amazing interior design trade shows and events and conferences both nationally and globally. Having the opportunity to view new products, investigate trends, listen to thought leaders in the design world and interact with other creatives keeps MY creative spirit alive!

Design*Sponge: What is the toughest part of your job?

Jackie: The toughest part of my job is not being able to turn all of my ideas into something tangible due to time and budget constraints, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Design*Sponge: How does Sherwin-Williams choose the names they use for paints? What is that decision process like?

Jackie: The color naming process, as you can imagine, is both daunting and exciting. The process obviously begins with the creation of a color by identifying the specific color space we want to develop. With the help of our lab, colors are created, approved and finally named. I have thousands of names and use all types of resources from cook books, to travel books and maps, song lyrics or even a trip to the grocery store. Names can be very literal, like the color of a specific flower or spice, or they can be named to evoke a certain emotion or mood.

Design*Sponge: Have you noticed that names or collection themes effect sales?

Color names or collection themes are certainly very much a part of the selection process and consumers are drawn to colors or shy away from them because of the name. It is a very emotional response for some and I can tell you from experience that one blue may be chosen over another because of a connection to the name. With over 1,500 colors to choose from, it is hard to trace the sale of one color over another only due to name.

Design*Sponge: Could you share a story behind one of the paint names at Sherwin-Williams?

Jackie: One of the collections that I named was part of our Faux Expressions line. With faux, it is more difficult to name a color because of the nuances in those types of decorative finishes. I had the challenge of naming several metallic crackle finishes so I had to take into account the type of metal as well as the type of texture, so the name would evoke an image that related to the finish. I gave this collection of colors names such as Fissured Copper, Fractured Gold, and Crackling Embers. I think they speak for themselves.

Design*Sponge: In your opinion, what’s your favorite color name from the Sherwin-Williams collection?

Jackie: My favorite color name is Sassy Green because it not only happens to be one of my favorite colors but it has a great energy and, as the name says, a little sass!!

Design*Sponge: In your opinion, what’s the funniest or oddest color name from the Sherwin-Williams collection?

Jackie: There are a couple. One is Pacer White, which was named after one of our employee’s dog! The other one that makes me laugh and I really don’t know why is Lime Rickey. It’s a classic cocktail, but for some reason strikes me as a little comical.

Design*Sponge: How does Sherwin-Williams choose the colors they’ll release each season? What is that decision process like?

Jackie: Each year we release a color forecast that highlights colors that will be trending or evolving over the next 12 to 18 months and beyond. It is a very involved process that includes me and several other color professionals at Sherwin-Williams. We research and collect information constantly from myriad resources like magazines, trade shows, trend trackers, Internet, newspapers, and fashion shows, etc. We then distill all this information, looking for the most relevant trends that will impact color and design in the coming months. We look at the economy and consumer behavior, local, national and world events, new and notable designers in all fields from fashion to automotive to furniture, all the while looking for common threads that will impact color movement and design choices. It’s a very exciting and complicated process that we are extremely passionate about!

Design*Sponge: How has the internet/social media/blogs changed the way people interact with paint? And has it affected how you make decisions at Sherwin-Williams?

Jackie: It has changed the atmosphere in a very exciting and profound way. People have so many resources, not only to look for inspiration, but to then take that inspiration and turn it into a paint palette to use in their home. Apps such as Color Snap, Color Snap Studio and Chip It! are just a few of the many tools that are not only fun, but helpful.
We are very conscious of how people look to the internet for information so we have to be very present and relevant in all media channels ,but especially in places like Facebook and Pinterest!

Design*Sponge: What books, websites or other sources of information inspire you or influence your choices at Sherwin-Williams?

Jackie: I love to look at magazines from around the world to get a global perspective on color and design that can inspire me in new ways. Pinterest is one of my favorite online tools because it has evolved into a very global site for all types of design, photography, architecture etc. I also enjoy sites like Dezeen, Cool Hunter, Behance and of course Design Sponge!

Design*Sponge: What’s coming next from Sherwin-Williams?

Jackie: We continue to enhance and introduce new products like Emerald paint. Our Colormix 2014 forecast is in the works and will launch to the design community at NEOCON this June in Chicago.

Suggested For You


  • how does one know when new color palettes will be introduced to the public. Is it on an ongoing basis or is there a time of year when colors are “announced”?

  • What a great job Jackie has! It is great to see other’s creative marketing processes. As marketing manager at Tileflair we focus on ‘creating something beautiful’ for the customer and not just selling tiles- similar to Jackie, I also use inspiration from all over the place and similar design websites to market the lifestyle- which is great because you can be creative! Really helpful and inspirational article thank you!

  • I have often wondered about the color naming process, Grace- I’m so glad that you asked that question. That sounds like a dream job to me, as well!
    Some times I guffaw over color names, and have to admit to leaning toward a choice because of an evocative moniker!

  • Inspiring article! What a wonderful job Jackie has! Need an assistant? I am a color consultant myself and love love love studying color trends and transforming interiors and exteriors through color! What fun to come up with the color names!

  • OMG! I can’t believe she said “Sassy Green” was her fave color. I just selected that for my crafting room and so excited to get it on the walls. It was fab!

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