Posted by: Greg Siefert | July 16, 2009

A new name for the Sears Tower?!

The Sears Tower Renamed:  Top, the granite marker for the Sears Tower.  Middle, the granite marker covered in preparation for the name change on 7/16/2009.  Bottom, the Willis Tower.

The Sears Tower Renamed: Top, the granite marker for the Sears Tower. Middle, the granite marker covered in preparation for the name change on 7/16/2009. Bottom, the Willis Tower.

Having lived and worked in Chicago for a dozen years (my office was kitty-corner from the Sears Tower), I’m wrestling with the announcement that the Sears Tower was renamed today (07/16/2009).  Will the new name hold mystique?  Will it draw people to the building with the highest inhabitable floor?  Will more people come see the new glass balcony on the Skydeck as a result of the name change?

You decide.  The London-based Willis Group Holdings got the naming rights as part of its lease agreement with the real estate investment group that owns Sears Tower.   The Sears Tower is now the Willis Tower. 

As I thought about it, it presents a challenging business decision in terms of customer attitudes.  What company wouldn’t jump at the chance to have such a well known building carry their name?  However, for Chicagoans, the Sears Tower will “always” be the Sears Tower.  I found my initial reaction was very negative toward Willis.  Is this a brilliant move?  Or will there be intense customer backlash?  Well, more than 90,000 people have already joined the group “People Against the Sears Tower Name Change,” on the social networking Web site Facebook.

Will customers eventually embrace Willis?  Or will customers continue to hold the insurance giant at arm’s length?  My prediction is that there will be a very cool reception over the next 24 months.  But, Chicago is a living, evolving city.  In time, people will get used to the new name…and maybe even appreciate the business that Willis brings to town.

For more info, see the MSNBC Article.

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