The Pragmatic Case for Change
In 1993 Sea Pines removed the word plantation from their brand famously saying "Why would we insult people if we don't have to?"
By 2020, all other communities on Hilton Head followed their lead except HHP.
Is the name Hilton Head Plantation a brand that drives home purchases?
It has been suggested that Hilton Head Plantation is too valuable a brand to change. But, since the 1990s other developments on Hilton Head and in Bluffton have moved away from including the word plantation as part of their brand strategy. They recognized that the word plantation would not be appealing to a broad market. If plantation was still a valuable marketing tactic, they would not have abandoned it. In addition, none of the developers of new communities in Bluffton adopted the word plantation to enhance their brand and improve their marketability. The Hilton Head Bluffton Chamber of Commerce says "The term plantation is not something we utilize in any of our marketing efforts, on our website or social media, nor do we have any plans to do so in the future. We have the utmost respect for the rich history and culture of Hilton Head Island and our native-islander Gullah community. "
The downward trend of the word plantation in lifestyle marketing is clear and undeniable. We are now the last community on HHI to use plantation as part of our public image.
What would the effect be on property values?
As homeowners, we are all concerned about property values. According to discussions with realtors here, there would not be a negative impact on sales of homes in our community by removing plantation from our name. Again, we should look at the trend. If thousands of current homeowners on this island are becoming increasingly uncomfortable living in a place called a plantation, it is reasonable to assume a portion of new homebuyers will also find the name unappealing, especially given the increasingly diverse pool of professionals who would be buying here.
What about the legal document changes that would be needed?
Through discussions with attorneys and those involved in name changes in other communities, it seems that there are multiple ways to make the change from a legal perspective, and that choice determines the cost. The least expensive is to amend the Articles of Incorporation for the name change and from that date on, “do business as” using the new name. It does not appear to be necessary to revise all past documents other than the By-laws, Declaration of Covenants, and then in ongoing contracts. This is the path that several communities have taken including Indigo Run.
What about the costs?
Palmetto Hall's POA Board told homeowners the cost of the change would not exceed $15,000. Indigo Run estimates their cost at between $10,000 - $30,000. HHP has not released a cost assessment at this time.
As part of our effort, we will guarantee to cover $100,000 of the legal fees through donations and fundraising to offset the costs associated with the name change. In addition, numerous professionals have come forward who would be willing to volunteer their time and skills to minimize the costs to homeowners. We are not asking for donations now but, you can strengthen our case to the POA Board by pledging to make a financial donation to support the change.
All brands must remain relevant and responsive to their market. In fact, with the support of the homeowners, the POA has authorized millions in capital improvements for our community to ensure that HHP remains attractive to potential homeowners. The Dolphin Head improvements will be millions more. By comparison, the cost of replacing the word plantation will be a relatively small investment to ensure a more positive brand image.
What name would we use instead?
Homeowners may find it an easier transition if we retain the HHP initials and replace the word plantation with another word that has no negative associations. Hilton Head Preserve, Hilton Head Point, Hilton Head Pines, Hilton Head Palms, and Hilton Head Place have all been suggested.