Pairc Ui Chaoimh – Do we care about a name change?

What’s in a name?  

Well, everything!!

It has been widely covered lately in the news that the famous Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork is considering a substantial partnership with the supermarket giant SuperValu as a title sponsor.  This potential deal includes changing the name to ‘SuperValu Park’. While I’m not going to offer my opinion one way or the other about this name change, I will say this – when considering a Brand Name it is crucial to remember that the name is just as important as the item being named.

The name is the very first introduction to any business or product, the same way as when we meet people for the first time we usually say something like “Hi, I’m […] nice to meet you”.  

In business terms, the name of a business or product has to be memorable (for the right reasons) and have a meaningful connection to the offering or its heritage. In some cases, using an abstract word or even coming up with a completely new word can work really well, for example Accenture (a hybrid of Accent and Future) or Facebook or Google. This approach can be very effective when the business is offering something totally new or is evolving into new markets.  

When it comes to renaming something that has been in the public domain for decades, loved by them, supported by them and has a place in their special memories, the new name needs to resonate. While the general public do not own the physical Pairc Ui Chaoimh, they do own its brand … that exists in the hearts and minds of the people who know it.

A few years ago, Tayto Park announced the end of their title sponsorship with Tayto. A new funding partnership could have meant a new title sponsor. They chose to name it Emerald Park, referencing Ireland’s ‘emerald Isle’ reputation and the lush green impressions that County Meath has.  

The name resonates with people in Ireland and helps appeal to international visitors. Instead of doing a deal with a title funding partner, they took the approach of using a name that was not tied to one specific company, instead they set about partnering with multiple funders in different ways. In my opinion, this was a sensible approach. Even if it’s not what they hoped for at the time of the change, in the long run it opens up more opportunities and flexibility and could prove to be more effective, time will tell.

With Pairc Ui Chaoimh, I see both sides to the story – the SuperValu deal is worth €250,000 a year to the park, which is very attractive, but at the extremely high cost of it’s name?  Surely partnering with three or four large organisations, who could provide €80,000 each and be the key supporters of an important public amenity with a name that is neutral and iconic, would not be out of reach?  It would be more affordable for the sponsors, and generate more revenue for the park.    

Maybe all of this has ben tried and the naming rights of the stadium was the only thing that sponsors were willing to place that kind of value on?

The other controversial subject matter is the concept of large commercial enterprises seizing opportunities to put their brand names on public treasures – is this too commercial and should some things not just be left well enough alone?  Big sponsorship deals can still be very worthwhile for both parties using other various ways of marketing and building their brand awareness. 

Changing a brand name is a great way of indicating change to the world.  On hearing it alone, a brand name should give some indication, even if it is a bit of a stretch, of what the product is and what it’s all about. It should be meaningful.  

Pairc Ui Chaoimh was named after a former Director General of the GAA so it has meaning and resonance. Can the same be said for ‘SuperValu Park’?  I’m not sure.  

Whoever does end up being the key funding partner for the park, whether that be one or multiple sponsors, I just hope they name it something that has meaning and connection to the supporters, visitors, locals and the general public as a whole.  

Or, here’s a thought, even with new partners, does the name need to change at all?


Paul Ruane is Head of Brand with Fuzion Communications who operate from offices in Dublin and Cork

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