How to Create a Memorable Name for your Restaurant

You don’t need to be a professional brand consultant to know that your restaurant’s name should be memorable, but how do you actually come up with a name that’s easy to remember?

With so many businesses, products and services trying to grab the attention of consumers in today’s world, a good name has become more important to attract and retain the interest of a restaurant’s potential customers.

Good Names should Resonate with your Audience

This means that you need a lot more than a cool word and a tacky tagline to represent what you’re all about. You need to connect with your audience in a deep, meaningful and positive way even before they step foot into your place.

You can do all that with just a name? Well, yes and no.

Indeed, some names are able to communicate a lot about a restaurant’s food, the ambience or any of its particularly unique qualities. However, this is quite rare and you can’t expect a name to do everything, and any attempt to inject too many elements into a name may result in an inedible mess.

Good Names are a Vital Marketing Asset

On the other hand, what a name can do, is to be a great conversation starter. Good restaurant names are a lead-in to the story behind your place, which is where the meaning behind the name and business is shared. The story should complement the name and vice versa.

So, whenever people hear or see the name of your place, it’s more than just the actual word(s) that’s noted, it’s the entire story that’s shared.

By using this strategy of creating a name that’s intricately linked to the story behind the business, it enables you to incorporate a lot more elements to build a powerful brand instead of merely coming up with a name to call your restaurant.

If you need to, dig deep and do plenty of research to find out the facts about ‘What’s (really) in a Name’, as a lot of restaurant owners fail to appreciate the impact that a great name can have on their business.

Choose a Name your Customers will Appreciate

There are lots of good names and stories that you can choose, but bear in mind that the ideal ones should resonate with the audience who you’re trying to reach.

Always have your customer in mind, even before they walk into your establishment, or even before you open for business. When you’re coming up with a name, you should already be trying to understand what they like and the things that will appeal to them, including names.

When you put in all the hard work and deep thought to makeup a name and story, don’t do it for yourself, do it for the people who are going to spend money in your place and tell the whole world how awesome you are.

Don’t do it for your friends and family, especially if they do not fit the profile of your target customers. Once you’ve come up with a few possibilities or narrowed down your choices, get feedback from people who are similar to those that you’re trying to reach. If they like it, ask them why. If they don’t, make sure you understand why.

Research, Test and Get Feedback

The bottom line is – get out there and do your research. Too many people sit in a room and start tearing their hair out trying to create the perfect name without getting any opinions. This is a huge mistake.

You should seek out, mingle and talk with people who you want to be your customers. Find out what they think, find out what they like, find out what restaurants they go to, and why.

Remember, when you’re deciding on your restaurant’s name, you can test as many ideas as you want for free, just by doing a rough survey and talking to people. You can chop and change at any time and constantly refine a naming strategy or change it completely.

But once, you’ve done your signage, printed all your menus and confirmed the marketing collaterals, it’s not going to be easy (or cheap) to change the name. So, do all your research and come up with all your crappy ideas now, while you can still change it.

The Best Ways to Create a Cool Restaurant Name

On top of being meaningful and relevant to the story for your restaurant, you can also come up with a memorable name in a number of other ways.

Names that are cleverly witty, amusingly funny, awesomely cute or simply creative in a unique way, will also catch the attention of people, and be easier to remember than a common or unimaginative name.

Clever Restaurant Names

A clever name is normally created by using witty wordplay that focuses on unique elements of the food, founders or some aspect of the brand, to come up with a name that’s cool and catchy.

You shouldn’t try too hard to be smart, as a lot of potential customers may not understand the meaning if it’s too complicated.

Ideally, the clever name should be cool. There’s no point having an intelligently constructed name that doesn’t’ connect with your customers. Remember, something that’s clever to one person, may not make much sense to another.

So, for choice, it’s better to have a name that sounds great and is moderately clever, versus one that’s extremely witty but hard to pronounce, difficult to remember and confusing to most people.

Funny Restaurant Names

Amusing names that make people laugh are always popular, and they are normally very effective in getting people to spread the word about your place.

One thing’s for sure, it will get people to stop, look, think and basically catch the attention of potential customers and anyone who comes across it.

However, this is assuming that you are able to come up with a truly funny name that’s relevant and not too cheesy or corny. The hard part about this naming strategy is the balance between creating something that’s really funny and relevant at the same time.

All too often, restaurants with funny names have a hard time getting patrons to appreciate the other qualities of their establishment, as their brand has been built around a quirky name that ends up being what they’re known for.

Cute Restaurant Names

Some names are appealing because they are cute and adorable, and hence memorable to people (especially girls and women) who are attracted to cutesy things.

They are normally created in a clever and creative way, but the focus and result is to produce a name that’s oozing with cuteness.

In other words, you need to be creative to come up with a really cute name, but it’s the cuteness that you’re after, instead of a name that’s creative for the sake of it. In short, there are names that are creative, but they’re not cute. But, on the whole, cute names need a fair bit of underlying creativity.

Creative Restaurant Names

Evidently, you need to be creative to create a good name for your restaurant, regardless of what technique you choose and what result you want.

However, there are some creative names that are not necessarily clever, funny or cute, but they’re just awesomely cool and simply brilliant.

If you don’t particularly want a smart, amusing or daintily pretty name, then just think of one that’s just creative in some special way that’s relevant to your restaurant.

Cool Restaurant Names

Ultimately, you just want people to think that your restaurant’s name is cool. It can be cool in lots of ways as long as it’s loved and appreciated.

Don’t get caught up in any one naming method if it’s not suitable, or try to include too many concepts and expect too much from a name. The best names usually just focus on one or two elements, and tend to keep things as simple as possible.

If you’re not sure about how to come up with a cool name, just ask around and get feedback from people who are similar to the profile of the customers you want dining in your place.

Not sure if a name that you’ve thought of is cool? Just ask these same people what they think of it, and listen to the reasons they share on why they do or do not like it.

There’s no secret formula or way to create a really cool name for your restaurant. You need to do your research, use your intuition, know your business, ask for advice and get feedback or ideas from the right people.

Good Restaurant Names are Memorable & Meaningful

Most people who start a restaurant havn’t a clue about what it takes to create a cool name for their business.

Although you can do it intuitively and choose a name according to your gut feel, it’s a good idea to read up a bit on the basics of branding, and the art (and science) of naming a restaurant effectively.

Memorable

Among all the countless qualities that a name can and should have, it needs to be memorable.

This is the key objective, as it enables people to tell others about your place (good and bad) and basically gets your name ‘out there’.

The cheapest and one of the most powerful forms of promotion is through word of mouth marketing, and a name that’s easy to remember is an essential part of this process.

In addition, a truly memorable name may put your restaurant at the top of your potential customers’ minds, and on the tips of their tongues. When people think about where they should go for a meal, you want your place to be easily recollected, as they will often go somewhere that they can remember (rather than a place they’ve forgotten!).

This allows you to stand out above your competition and gives you the best chance of attracting patrons to your establishment.

Meaningful

A really awesome name is normally very relevant and meaningful. It uses a deeper angle to connect with its audience so that the resulting memorability is anchored by real substance.

When you’re trying to come up with a good name, always remember that many people will ask you why you named your restaurant with the name you chose.

While it’s possible to reply with, “Oh, I just liked the name”, or “Because it sounds cool, don’t you think?”, it is much better if you have an interesting story and background to your name, concept or reason for opening up.

You should treat such questions (regarding your restaurant’s name, food or anything else) as an opportunity to share an entertaining and passionate reason for the choices you’ve made. It’s a chance to carry on the dialogue. By saying something like “I just liked the name”, it effectively kills the conversation with someone who has expressed an interest in your business.

By having a meaningful story to share, you will make your place easier to remember, and give people sharable facts and information to spread the word. Remember, to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing properly, you need to define ‘what’s the word’ that you want people to market.

Memorable & Meaningful

Whenever possible, your restaurant’s name should be both memorable and meaningful.

There are lots of names that are easy to remember, but they don’t have much relevance or meaning. This will limit their ability to connect with as many potential customers as possible, as it may not communicate that the name is for a restaurant and what’s so special about it.

Conversely, there are names that are loaded with a deep and intricate meaning, but they are overly complicated and difficult to remember, which makes it hard to spread the word about them, or even to recall it in the first place.

So, strike a balance between the two goals to achieve your objective. When in doubt, keep it simple. Simple to understand, simple to remember and simple to share.

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.