The Princeton address yeilds a fair amount of cachet, most notably due to the Ivy League university and the expensive town. Companies and individuals always want to be associated with the word “Princeton.” There is a local train station, located outside of Princeton in the township of West Windsor, called Princeton Junction. Eventually, people living in this area of West Windsor decided their mailing address should be Princeton Junction because it sounded better. When I talk to people not familiar with the area, I might say I’m from Princeton or I live near Princeton. I actually live in a township called Plainsboro, which with West Windsor, also borders on Princeton
Now Merrill Lynch has the same idea. They’re renaming their money management business after the town of Princeton. The university doesn’t like entities using their name (even though the school appropriated it in the nineteenth century when it no longer wanted to be known as the College of New Jersey — which is the newer name for Trenton State College). I remember having trouble locating the Princeton Ski Shop because it was not, as the name indicated, located in Princeton.
Merrill Lynch is claiming it is appropriating the Princeton name for its funds because of the company’s history in that town. As it turns out, the company is not located in Princeton, it’s located nearby in my town. The University is not happy about the money management company’s decision, and they’re hoping the success they’ve had stopping other companies from using the name will help them block Merrill Lynch.
Should the university try to protect its name as a brand? Many towns across the country are called Princeton. I’ve seen old maps where the area is marked as “Princetown” (and the nearby Lawrenceville is called “Maidenhead”). What’s in a name?
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published February 2, 2006.