Attention Real Estate Developers. Only You Can Cure Embarrassing Building Syndrome

Principal Consultant , David Allison Inc.
  • Jun. 20, 2010

Embarrassing Building Syndrome, or EBS, is an affliction on the rise. It happens more and more often, in all kinds of social settings. After meeting someone who is very excited about their new home purchase, you quite innocently trigger the onset of symptoms by asking these new homeowners which building their condominium is located in.

The face of the sufferer suddenly flushes, the eyes blink rapidly, and voice control is lost as speech patterns become mumbly and utterly unintelligible. Rapid breathing and a tendency to quickly leave the conversation without explanation are more severe symptomatic indicators. It’s an affliction striking mostly the young and upwardly mobile who purchase new urban homes.

Scientists have tracked down the root cause of EBS, and it’s fairly straightforward. And that’s the biggest tragedy of all. It’s so easy to fix, but instead it seems to be spreading, moving out from the city centres across our country into the suburbs, and the recreational land beyond.

EBS is a syndrome caused by real estate developers, and only they have the power to stop this terrible disease. EBS is a form of severe and acute embarrassment brought on by having to say, out loud, the stupid name of the building where you bought a home.

People do not want to live in a building called SQUIRT.

No one wants to go to a party and announce that they have just spent their life savings on a place called QWERTY.

I cringe – on behalf of the homebuyers – at places named after condiments, or herbs, or emotions.

I feel the pain of people who have to fill out mortgage forms and look their banker in the eye while they explain that they bought a new home that they can barely afford in a condo tower named after a vegetable best served steamed.

From Etobicoke to Toronto to Vancouver, and at pretty much all points in between, developers seem to have tricked themselves into thinking that kooky names will sell homes. “Who doesn’t love Peach Schnapps?!” they exclaim. “Let’s call the tower that!”

To be fair, while the decision ultimately lands on the shoulders of the developer, many times it’s the marketing firms they work with who offer up these tidbits of ridiculousness for the developer to choose from. “We think you should consider names from within the carnivore family. Meat eaters are the rock stars of the forest, and everyone wants to be a rock star! Agreed? So it’s Puma Place, then? Great! Now let’s look at the logos.”

I make my living by the grace of the real estate development community. And while I wanted to write this story I wanted to avoid naming names. You never know when someone might be a potential client, and embarrassing your potential clients isn’t a good business decision. But there is one townhouse development that I just can’t help poking fun at. I mean, there are many others all across the country who are guilty of propagating cases of EBS, and I think you know who you are. But this one is remarkable.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Sugar Suites, who proudly proclaim on their website home page that Sugar Suites are “For those that relish the sweeter things in life and discerning few who treasure every second. Sugar. Welcome to the Sweet Life.” I don’t think I need to say anything more.

So, what’s the best approach? How do you find a name that allows you to Sell The Truth, and be memorable?

We think it’s about being real, and despite my ranting, it seems there are some developers out there who feel the same way. How about using the street address as a name as some developers in Vancouver have done? WSix is a great example. Or re-use a neighbourhood name or nearby park as Monarch did with Bronte CreekBronte Creek in Oakville, Ontario. Are you near a well-known intersection for example? Or a civic monument? The Maynards Block in Vancouver is a series of modern condos built in the city’s historical Maynard’s auctioneer building, and that connection is nice and clear.

In the end, it’s about finding a name that actually speaks honestly to a project and gives consumers some context and real information about that development that they can be proud of.

If you are a real estate developer, only you can stop Embarrassing Building Syndrome. Please, do your part.



David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

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David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

Read more




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