The Useful Art of Colorful Names

Today I’m wearing a T-shirt from our local short track where The Conductor and I like to watch the Sunday night races in the summer. It’s bright orange, and my wife reluctantly acknowledges I look good in it.


Bright Orange doesn’t effectively describe the color, and that has me thinking about the paint scheme on the FCFL. The power is orange and blue with silver, maroon, green and yellow accents. The maker of the paints we use calls them “competition orange” and … wait for it … “blue.”

That won’t cut it. Union Pacific locos are yellow and gray but the company calls them “Armour Yellow” and – I love this – “Harbor Mist.” Or how about the Great Northern? You can’t help but dream of Montana and crossing the Cascades when you see rolling stock sporting “Glacier Green” and “Big Sky Blue.”

So I’m calling the FCFL’s colors “Desert Lightning Blue” and “Lakeshore Sunrise,” and the turquoise rolling stock “Inland Sea.”

But why stop there?


FCFL 5630, wearing “Desert Lightning” and “Lakeshore Sunrise” paint spots a covered hopper decked out in “Inland Sea.”

The world is what we make it, folks, and there’s much to be said for good branding.

The winner of the office chili cook-off was a so-so recipe with ground turkey, but the guy took home the trophy because he called it “Turkey Two-Bean Tango.”

Half a can of soda in a plastic cup is “Complimentary In-Flight Beverage Service.”

I’m usually pretty intolerant of such baloney. The best things in life outshine their names: Quarter-Pounder with Cheese. Monday Night Football.

But on this autumn Monday with the gray (or is it Harbor Mist?) of winter marching steadily toward us, couldn’t we all use a little creative packaging?

At the very least, it’s a fun excercise:

Sweeping away the cobwebs around the house? You are an “Arachnid Domicile Relocation Engineer.”

Staff meeting at 10? Call it a “Gathering of Serfs for the Pleasure of the Lord of the Manor.” Bonus points for telling your boss.

Branding our model railroads adds a layer of depth and realism. Rebranding the dreary helps us laugh it away.


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