Nov 03

Brainstarters for Naming Buildings

From time to time, as your organization has capital, you may be called upon to help name a building, a new wing to an existing building, or some other facility. Where do you start? Here are some possibilities:

1. Brand Names
– This especially makes sense if the new building is your primary or administrative office. Of course it could easily be confused with all the stadiums now named after companies.
2. Donor Names – If you’re a non-profit, this might be as far as you get.
3. Geographic References – Your city or town may be an element at the beginning or end of a building name. Or you can find geographic references that aren’t specific towns: Suchandsuch Valley; Local mountain; Coast; Piedmont; Midstate; Central; and so forth.
4. Fruits and Vegetables – This can be especially poignant if they are related to the state or region. Apple varieties could be a great way to name a series of buildings on a hospital campus.
5. Flower or Plant Names – Again, especially relevant if related to the geographic region. Wildflowers can be a good source of unique, upbeat and colorful names as well.
6. A Past Administrator or Supporter that you want to honor – We once recommended naming a Georgia nursing home with “Mulberry.” It was a soft, caring name with a regional flavor. Administration named it after a deceased doctor instead. C’est la vie. If you take this approach, Utah State University has some good advice: they don’t name buildings in honor of an individual while the individual is still employed by the University, until at least one year after retirement, nor within one year after the person’s death.
7. Street Name (“Sugnet Building”) – Boring, perhaps, but functional for a campus.
8. A Number – In general this means playing off the postal address: “101 Building.” Some large industrial companies name their entire sites with numbers, but this certainly wouldn’t work well for the public.
9. Theme Related – Such as the “Excellence Center.” Of course, you want to pick a theme that’s going to last as long as your building.
10. Utilitarian – Name it after the services housed in the building, such as “Central Services,” “Administration,” or “Assembly and Processing Center.” Be ready to change the name in the future, should the services change.

Naming such things as buildings is imbued with subjectivity and politics, so do your homework, but hold onto your personal preferences loosely. Let us know about any great building names (or blunders) you know about, or categories Unsolicited has overlooked by using the comment link. For our podcast listeners, visit Unsolicited Marketing Advice dot blog spot dot com.

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