There are more than 30 South Surrey businesses that use ‘White Rock’ in their name. (Graph by Chad Skelton)

Why do Surrey businesses use ‘White Rock’ in their name?

White Rock has a little more 'sizzle' to it, KPU marketing professor says

As municipal boundaries go, few seem to be quite as blurred as the one between Surrey and White Rock.

While the difference may be minor to most, residents who live in South Surrey and claim to live in White Rock can be a point of annoyance for people where specifics matter.

But it’s not just residents who blur the line, a trend on the Semiahmoo Peninsula is for South Surrey businesses to include White Rock in their name, while often having little association with the city.

While some businesses got their start in White Rock and later relocated – White Rock Travel is one example – Peace Arch News counted more than 30 businesses north of 16 Avenue that take advantage of White Rock’s name.

But why?

Kwantlen Polytechnic University marketing professor Richard Simon spoke to PAN Wednesday to explain what goes into a great business name, and offered his opinion on the trend in South Surrey.

When selecting a name, first and foremost an entrepreneur needs to consider is legality, he said. He added that the name should be easy to pronounce, easy to recall and come “top of mind.”

Another component, Simon added, is that research has shown that when building residential developments or subdivisions, nature is key. Simon cited Morgan Creek, Aldergrove, Walnut Grove and even White Rock as examples.

He said people want to live near nature, even if a place called Cedar Park doesn’t actually feature a single cedar tree.

Map contributed by data journalist and KPU instructor Chad Skelton

When asked to explain why ‘White Rock’ is so prominent in South Surrey business names, Simon made note of the connection to nature.

“I’m just shooting from the hip,” Simon said. “White Rock is so memorable. It (does) have that big, actual physical white rock down on the beach. It’s a cute little place. It reminds me – when I go to White Rock along the strip – of a California beach town.”

Simon said ‘White Rock’ has a “sizzle,” while ‘South Surrey’ is more generic. He agreed with the notion that White Rock is a destination.

“It’s small, it’s cute, it’s clean, it’s fairly wealthy, it’s established and it’s got a lot of fun memories for people, they go there in the summer. I think they’re just capitalizing on a popular name,” Simon said.

Simon said there’s no legal precedent for naming a business after an area without having any connection to it. He highlighted New York Fries, which started as Brantford, Ont., as an example.

“(Boston Pizza), it’s a Canadian company, for God’s sake,” Simon said. “It has nothing to do with Boston but people know place names and have wonderful associations with them. If you have a good association with a place name, then it can really work wonders for you.”

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