How to Come Up with a Great Restaurant Name

One of the most important things to get right when you’re opening a restaurant is its name.

Most people are aware of this and start their planning by thinking of what to call their dream business, while others still havn’t confirmed a name after signing the lease for the property where the new outlet will be.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, if you’re still trying to get advice and ideas on how to create the ideal name for your restaurant, you will find lots of useful and actionable tips in this guide.

Although you may be tempted to jump straight in and start listing our viable names that sound good, it’s advisable to develop a naming strategy that’s based on solid fundamentals.

Generally, there are 6 key steps to take in order to name a restaurant effectively. Most of them should already be done in your business plan, but if you havn’t got round to it yet, or didn’t go into sufficient detail when drafting your plan of action, then this may be a good time to get it done.

  1. Define your Target Market
  2. Understand your Audience
  3. Assess your Competition
  4. Confirm your Product & Niche
  5. Think about & Refine your Story
  6. Create your Restaurant’s Name

Ultimately, a great name should resonate with the people who it is supposed to reach (ie the customers you want to dine in your restaurant) and if possible, it should communicate the main elements of your product and brand.

Now, to do this properly, you need to be clear about your food, who you’re trying to appeal to, what your potential customers like, who you’re competitors are, and what’s so special about your place.

1. Define your Target Market

It’s essential to know who your customers are before you open up. You need to assess the potential market size for the cuisine you intend to serve, as well as the quality level and hence prices, to determine the exact market segment you intend to reach.

This may not be directly relevant to naming your restaurant, but it is a crucial first step in identifying the customers who you want to appeal to.

2. Understand your Audience

Once you know who you’re trying to attract, you need to figure out their tastes and preferences. This means knowing what kind of food they’ll love, what type of ambience they prefer, and what sort of name they’ll like.

You might be thinking – how are you going to possibly know the type of names that you customers will think is cool?

Well, there’s no specific route. Just use your common sense and intuition. For example, if you’re trying to appeal to young hipsters, go for a trendy name that sounds hip. On the other hand, if you’re opening a Chinese take away, keep it simple and don’t choose a name that sounds like a Michelin star fine dining establishment.

3. Assess your Competition

Whether it’s for naming ideas or just to do your market survey properly, you should always know who you’re competing against, whether they’re successful, and what they’re called.

Generally, you don’t want a name that’s too similar to another restaurant in your area, as they may give you legal hassles and force you to change your name, or you may be negatively perceived to be a copycat and gain a negative reputation before you can even get going.

4. Confirm your Product & Niche

Needless to say, your restaurant’s name should be related to the food you’re serving in some way. If you havn’t confirmed your menu yet, make sure you do, as you may get inspiration for your restaurant’s name once you know the special qualities of your culinary offerings.

A lot of good restaurants incorporate the type of food they serve into their name. Some do it explicitly and others do it in cleverer ways via wordplay. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you know whether you want to be known for fresh seafood, steak & ribs, north Indian curries, authentic Mexican or whatever.

The type, quality and style of food served is one of the best ways to get ideas for a restaurant’s name.

5. Think about & Refine your Story

A good name that comes with a great story is a fantastic way to create a memorable name and a highly effective way to spread the word about your brand.

You restaurant’s name may be based on its location, the history of the building, ethic elements of the cuisine, characteristics of the chef/owner, unique qualities of the food, or quirky design features.

In short, be prepared to have a good answer whenever anyone asks you or any one of your team, “Why are you called that?”. By having an interesting and authentic story or reason for your name, you’ll definitely make it more meaningful and get lots of free word-of-mouth marketing.

6. Create your Restaurant’s Name

As you can see, once you have a detailed understanding of your restaurant’s product, market, competitors and unique selling propositions, you should get lots of ideas for its name.

Even if the names are not immediately jumping out at you, there are various strategies you can adopt to create a fantastic name from one, or some of the identities, themes and topics highlighted from your analysis into your cuisine, location, market, design or yourself.

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