The other day I was driving through southern Pennsylvania when I saw a billboard for one of those condominium/retirement community developments. The name of the place was “The Views at Bridgewater.” What kind of views, I wondered? I didn’t know, and I wasn’t going to stop to find out. But I did notice, once again, what seems to be an alarmingly ubiquitous trend in naming new real estate projects.
In the old days, a developer would have simply called the new project “Bridgewater,” but at some point a marketing genius decided that adding “the” and a one-word description would be much more attractive to potential buyers. Maybe using the specifying “the” is thought to give the development a more distinctive feel. Whatever the reason, this same naming convention seems to have been adopted by every real estate developer in America. It’s always “The” followed by a noun identifying a physical feature followed by “at” followed by a location. So, if somebody were to develop a condo project in the Westeros world of Game of Thrones, it inevitably would have a name like “The Walls at Casterly Rock” or “The Cliffs at Dragonstone.” And if this naming convention had been developed before Seinfeld was broadcast, his parents would have lived in “The Units at Del Boca Vista” instead.
And just as disturbingly ubiquitous is the overuse of periods in advertising real estate developments. Every “mixed use” development seems to feature “Live. Work. Play.” somewhere in its brochures and billboards. Why the periods, rather than commas? Probably because somebody did tests with a focus group, and decided that periods were more definitive and therefore more compelling.
Do these marketing approaches work with the average American? They must, because they’re everywhere. English teachers undoubtedly cringe at the overuse of one-word sentences, but at the same time feel a certain welling sense of pride that words and punctuation can be the difference between a successful real estate venture and an outright failure.
As for me, I’ll just continue to “Breathe. Eat. Blog.” here at “The Brickwork at German Village.”