Naming the New Theatre in Cambridge

Shakespeare was correct to claim that a rose by another other name would smell as sweet but he forgot to add that a rose by any other name would not sound as nice. Keeping the old bard’s advice in mind, I was disappointment, but not surprised to see that the new theatre inCambridgewas christened with a generic name that is already associated with retirement living. This choice speaks volumes about how money is used to influence cultural decisions.

            The theatre has been branded as an extension of retirement living and not as a performing arts complex. I cite, “ the Dunfield brand will be incorporated into the theatre exterior and interior signage.” The logo for both the theatre and the retirement residence is the same.

             Since naming a product or company is the single most important element in brand strategy, the person who came up with the name for the new theatre missed the mark and missed an opportunity to positionCambridgeas a vibrant cultural center like Waterloo or Toronto for example.

            A name is the basic point of contact between your audience, customers and supporters. Simply put, everything you do begins with a name. This is why it is important to get the name right.

              When a company has a great name people will remember it and have an emotional connection with it. In this way, the name becomes a natural extension of the brand you wish to portray. Why a theatre was branded as a retirement complex is truly baffling.

            Most organizations who name themselves get it wrong. This is unfortunate since having a powerful brand name is one of the most important business decisions an organization can make. A name does not describe the company or product per se, instead a name indicates the positioning of a company, product or service.

            A great name has a unique tone, personality and conveys the story that you wish to express to the world. The generic name chosen for the theatre position it as a venue that compliments retirement living.

            All great names support the positioning of the business or product they speak for.Dunbar speaks to retirement living. It does not speak to the theatre, the arts or entertainment.

            There are naming and identity agencies, my own included (VibeMuse) that specialize in creating evocative and descriptive names that revitalize and change how naming is done.

            A great name  creates brand awareness, engages with your audience and converts them to become devoted to your brand. Great names are emotionally engaging, thought-provoking, original and unique

            Evocative names rise above the goods and services being offered. The best names draw from the reservoir of  cultural knowledge, myth, and art. These names  work on multiple levels. Nearly all the great brands that you are familiar with have evocative names such as Google, Amazon, Oreo etc.

            Even conservative names such as Circle in the Square, The Cambridge Renaissance Theatre, The Grand Theatre or This Building Blocks my View of The Patch, would have been a much better choice than the million dollar generic, dull and very non-artistic name chosen for the theatre.

            The Romans were fond of saying, “Nomen est Omen”, meaning that the name fits its purpose. It is little wonder then that Dunbar placed a full page ad in the Cambridge Times to advertise their name.  We did not see pictures of theatre supporters of all ages, rather we were presented with retirees playing a piano under the glow of fluorescent lights. Executives from Dunbar insist that “culture is the fabric of a community”. Based on the name chosen for the theatre, readers can draw their own conclusions


About Mark Zlomislic

Philosopher. Writer. Artist. My Studio/Gallery Inscape Fine Art is located in Cambridge, Ontario. Viewing by Appointment Only. Please email:
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2 Responses to Naming the New Theatre in Cambridge

  1. ENBertussi says:

    Small town thinking strikes again… Where the attitude is ‘this is good enough for us. we’re not “Toronto” or “a big city”, well you certainly are not, but your completing with them on the cultural level, if you are going to keep cultural spending in your community with an attempt to build a performance arts theatre then you best go all the way and hit the hardest home run ball you can and ensure your marketing starting with the naming is set for global success not sell it off to the bidder who is going for geo proximal corp naming.. what happens when Dunfield gets sold to an even larger retirement living corporation? there will go all and any brand equity.. instead of finishing their investment the city of Cambridge has sold off for quick cash and ensured a harder struggle will ensue with making a success of the theatre…

    small wonder I am shaking my head again at the kind of small town lack of sustainagility I grew accustomed and tired of witnessing in Cambridge..

    damn shame they have lost this opportunity to make a rock solid brand out of it..

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