Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
BY JILL PRILUCK - Special to the Sun
When it came to naming Blue, architect Bernard Tschumi's 16-story, 32-unit pixilated glass condominium on the Lower East Side, it wasn't obvious at first what to call it.
"We had considered, I believe, the name ‘Dream' in French — Reve — because it felt like a dream in some respects and the architect is Swiss French, " a managing director of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, Daniel Cordeiro, said. "With that building we wanted to be straightforward."
Ultimately, Blue was the winner, spawning a logo, a Web site, and a giant wave of publicity. With a record number of new residential condominium developments in today's building boom, and worries about a glut in the luxury condo market, the art of naming new projects like Blue has evolved into a highly competitive, demographics-heavy, brand-minded exercise. More often than not, the key to a development's entire marketing campaign begins with one simple detail: the building's name.
The naming of a project can take between two-weeks and two months process and occur anywhere from six months to two years before a property comes to market. It can involve financiers, partners, sales representatives and their marketing team, M.B.A.s, creative agency types, focus groups, even spouses and loved ones. But the developer has the final say.
"It's sort of a group effort," a vice president at Toll Brothers, David Von Spreckelsen, said. "But, at the end of the day, it's pretty much Bob Toll's call."
Three words dictate most new building names, experts say: location, location, location. A Fifth Avenue address is a no-brainer, but the new Richard Meier-designed building on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights with listings reaching $6 million a unit presents a challenge. But with a little brainstorming, a name like One Prospect Park is born.
"If you have a location that's not okay and you are designing a building that has an aesthetic statement, then let that basically be the driving force behind the naming of the building. It has to have some kind of consistency with the branding of the property," the CEO of Core Group Marketing, Shaun Osher, said.
Other factors, experts say, are the architectural details, the building's history, the lifestyle it espouses, and the amenities. It's a sensitive task designed to draw prospective buyers, and to choose a name with that will stay fresh beyond the time contracts are signed. And of course, the developers must ensure that no one is turned off or offended.
"One of the tricks to naming a building is to make it appeal across the board, to interpolate the right buyers and not be too generic, but on the other hand, to capture what is unique about the building," said a senior vice president of marketing at Corcoran Sunshine, Jasmine Mir.
There are plenty of examples that show a suitable name can do little to salvage a building with lagging sales. The Stanhope at 995 Fifth Avenue boasts an elegant address and a storied past, but that hasn't been a draw for buyers so far.
About a quarter of all namings involve settling a difference of opinion among partners, developers, marketers, and branders, experts say.
"One developer wanted to use a name of a building that was going to have a very strong Israeli connection after a specific site in Israel. Even though our demographic may include religious Jews, it wouldn't be appropriate to name a building in a way that would stereotype it for one type of demographic when it's not," said executive director of development marketing for Halstead Property, Stephen Kliegerman.
Deciding what to call a residential building is different from a commercial one, added Mr. Kliegerman. "You need to be more sensitive to the fact that people take their space personally. It's where they live. It's their home and because of that, the name of the building reflects upon them."
Thursday, February 08, 2007