Last week, I wrote about “the halo effect” on events, buildings, and properties that have had multiple names, all of which have been commercial. The other area we often advise on is the sponsorship naming rights of iconic buildings “owned” by the community or named after community leaders. Often a building may be named after a past politician or community leader. Brands interested in naming such properties must take into account these situations and be prepared to invest accordingly.
Once upon a time, there was a major swimming and health facility in Calgary called Lindsay Park. It was named after Dr. Lindsay who was a great supporter of healthy lifestyles. In the 1990s, it was renamed Talisman Centre. Today the branding is secure and it is referred to as Talisman Centre. But the initial renaming raised major issues. There was a public uproar and major PR issues arose for both the city and Talisman Energy. The Lindsay family had not been consulted prior to the change! At the opposite end of the scale, back in 2005 the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club renamed the stadium known as Taylor Field (named to honour a city employee who was the driving force behind building the stadium) to MOSAIC Stadium at Taylor Field after the fertilizer giant MOSAIC. But this was done right. The Taylor family was consulted, the Taylor name was incorporated into the new name (which now is basically omitted from all references), and the switch went forward free of issues. It was well done and supported by the community.
Other namings of iconic community properties include the Science Centres in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, which became TELUS World of Science (TELUS Spark) with few issues. These were done right and had significant activation plans in place for launch and branding recognition.
So yes, you can place a corporate name on a community property and benefit from it. Both the selling property and the brand can reap rewards, as can the users of the properties. When there is an activation plan in place and a PR plan, it works well. When due diligence is not undertaken, it can be a catastrophe!