National Landing? In Amazon’s new neighborhood, a new and strange name

By Steve Hendrix

November 16, 2018

Catchword in Washington PostWhen does a name become a thing?
For real estate types, “National Landing” sprang to life instantly.
“1 BR with DC monument view in sought-after National Landing!” read a Craigslist ad within hours of the words “National” and “Landing” appearing together publicly for the first time Tuesday in news releases announcing the coming of Amazon to the neighborhood formally known as Crystal City.
But for people who live in the region, National Landing was not so much “sought-after” after as “nonexistent.” …
“When they come up with a name like National Landing, it is not to serve the needs of the people who live there, it’s to serve the needs of the developer,” said Laurel Sutton, one of the founders of Catchword, a California naming and branding consultant.
When a new name is based on something percolating up from actual residents, it can work beautifully. Sutton cited the emergence of SoHo as a Manhattan neighborhood name decades ago. It was descriptive (the area is south of Houston Street) and evocative (it recalled the chic London district of the same name). It made people feel good about living there.
Will people feel good about living in National Landing?
“National Landing, what does that even mean?” asked Sutton, who was doubtful the name would stick. “It’s so bland it doesn’t tell you anything about the area. What? It’s an airport?” …
Still, the howls of protest and derision that greeted the name National Landing on social media were to be expected, according to Sutton. More often than not, renaming attempts don’t go over well with residents, who find the labels easy to avoid.
“Candlestick Park had so many names over the years,” she said, referring to San Francisco’s storied baseball stadium. The venue cycled through serial bought-and-paid-for identities, including 3Com Park and Monster Park, all of which the fans ignored.
“People here never called it anything but Candlestick Park,” said Sutton. …
“In general,” Sutton said, “people don’t like to have names imposed on them from above.”
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“When they come up with a name like National Landing, it is not to serve the needs of the people who live there, it’s to serve the needs of the developer,” said Laurel Sutton, one of the founders of Catchword, a California naming and branding consultant.

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