Fast Company

What's in a Name?

On Tuesday, the town of South Belmar, New Jersey, officially changed its name to Lake Como, hoping that it will spur a renaissance for the shore town, distinguishing it from the larger, nearby summer party spot Belmar. Perhaps they're hoping that people will associate it with the stunning Lake Como in northern Italy, where George Clooney has his digs, and not the Lake Como Family Nudist Resort in Florida.

Will changing the name of the town really improve its lot? Or is it akin to slapping paint on a rotting wall? What other brands, or towns, have been turned around by a name change?

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4 Comments

  • David Perkins

    Actually, Mr. Sharf, "reverse engineering" is the process of breaking a thing down into it component parts to ascertain of what it is made and how it is/was "engineered".

  • Joshua Sharf

    Actually, Belmar isn't that bad a name to begin with. Now, I remember driving through a town in Pennsylvania that had a sign up, "Welcome to Pleasantville - Formerly Dubbstown." That's a trade-up, but it didn't seem to be helping the town any.

  • Mason

    Reverse engineering -- that is, changing a name in the hope of covering up the same nothingness -- is rarely successful, obviously. That's like giving your kid a pretentious name, hoping he'll become respected and be admitted to Harvard. S. Belmar / Lake Como may have a shot at something because they're actually doing the work behind the name to make the town into something nicer than it was which, much more so than the name, will help attract people.

    Kansas is trying the same thing, but the wrong way: http://masoncole.typepad.com/v...

  • David Perkins

    Yes, a name can make a difference. It is branding. It is the cover of the book. It is why actors, artists and writers sometimes use a name other than their given name. Image is everthing (or, a significant amount). How something is presented has a susbstantial impact on how it is received and perceived.

    David L. Perkins, Jr.
    MBA, BA-Psychology
    Owner, Editor and Publisher - The Business Owner journal
    Partner, Vercor (M&A firm)