Will 'DoCo' name stick for Sacramento downtown arena retail district?

From the Sacramento Business Journal - September 16, 2015

Downtown Plaza, the mall that has largely been replaced by the arena, reminds consumers of another era, said Doug Elmets, founder of Elmets Communications, a media relations firm. He said the developers are right to go in a new direction.

“They are reinventing themselves, and that is a perfectly good thing to do as long as it isn’t just the name,” Elmets said. “This ownership group has a long track record of understanding consumer trends and desires. You can see that in the choices they made for restaurants. They cherry picked the best restaurant operators in the region.”




Eager to ditch the old Downtown Plaza identity, backers of the retail district surrounding Sacramento's Golden 1 Center have coined a Twitter-friendly nickname. Local marketing experts say only time will tell — but the label may catch on.

The Sacramento Kings and retail developers JMA Ventures today launched a media blitz to brand the mixed-use development around the arena as Downtown Commons — or "DoCo" for short. The campaign was launched simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Downtown Plaza, the mall that has largely been replaced by the arena, reminds consumers of another era, said Doug Elmets, founder of Elmets Communications, a media relations firm. He said the developers are right to go in a new direction.

“They are reinventing themselves, and that is a perfectly good thing to do as long as it isn’t just the name,” Elmets said. “This ownership group has a long track record of understanding consumer trends and desires. You can see that in the choices they made for restaurants. They cherry picked the best restaurant operators in the region.”

The mall will include 300,000 square feet of retail, in addition to the existing Macy’s, the Golden 1 Center arena and a high-rise mixed use building now under construction. The Kings today also announced the first three tenants of the retail development.

"Downtown Commons," the more formal name chosen by the Kings and JMA Ventures, got mixed reviews from many in Sacramento's marketing world.

“I can’t say 'Downtown Commons' grabs me. It’s kind of vanilla,” said Debi Hammond, CEO of Merlot Marketing. “When I think of ‘commons,’ I think of Campus Commons. Sacramento already has that name.”

On the other hand, the short version could be a hit, Hammond noted. “Especially with social media, it is important to have a short name. If people start using 'DoCo' on social media, it will catch on … Social media will hip-ify it.”

“'Commons' isn’t a flashy word,” agreed Eric Mayer, account manager with Seraphein Beyn Advertising. “'DoCo' is better than Downtown Commons.”

The short tag ties the project into a deep history of nicknames for hip urban districts. Well-known examples include New York's Soho and San Francisco's SoMa.

The artsy SoHo neighborhood refers to its location south of Houston Street. The SoMa moniker grew organically as a label for the once-edgy neighborhood south of Market street in downtown San Francisco.

Other examples include New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, a compression of the phrase “Triangle Below Canal Street.” Another is Brooklyn’s technology hub neighborhood, known as DUMBO — short for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."

Sometimes created names don't catch on. Property and business owners in a part of midtown Sacramento self-described their neighborhood as the Handle District, but most people just call it midtown.

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