Article contributed by Asiyih Linz, Second Sight Design
When it comes to restaurant inception, your name is an integral piece of the puzzle.
It’s this name in bright lights on a building that signals to the outside world an idea of who you are before a guest even walks through the door. Our team at Second Sight Design is well seasoned in this creative process and are pleased to pass along five touchstones to keep in mind when choosing your restaurant name.
Make It Memorable
Because it’s arguably the most important (and obvious) tip of the trade, we’ll cover it first. Take the time to brainstorm names considering your concept, location and audience. What feeling are you trying to evoke to your potential guests? Is your brand cheeky or serious? What cuisine will you serve?
When Trust Restaurant Group came to Second Sight Design to develop a name and brand around their flashy San Diego steakhouse dripping in gold décor and furniture, our team immediately got to developing a brand story that tapped into old Vegas. Around this story, the name “Rare Society” was born as a play on words referencing a steak’s preferred temperature and as a nod to the exclusive supper club scene of that time period. The deliciously memorable concept has been a hit and is now set to open its fifth location in 2023.
Keep It Short & Simple
Try to avoid names that are hard to spell or pronounce. The easier it is, the more likely they are to quickly look you up and find you in a web search. Names that are short and sweet are also easier to remember and lend themselves better to claiming your social media handle or website url. Further, less characters are ideal for the wordmark or inclusion in your logo. And don’t fret, keeping it simple doesn’t mean your name isn’t memorable. Some of the best restaurants pack a huge punch with a short and sweet name, like “Masa” in New York City. Because in the end it’s the branding story you build around it that really helps to make that name come alive.
Beware of Trademarks
Before you settle on a name, it’s important to make sure it’s fair game! It would be a shame to get too far down the naming process without making sure it hasn’t already been trademarked by another company. Not only could you wind up being sued, you’d end up looking like an imitation brand. As if! You can start with a simple Google search, but just because it doesn’t have a web presence doesn’t necessarily mean the name hasn’t been claimed. Ensure its availability by double checking with the Better Business Bureau and the US patent’s office’s trademark search.
Trends come and go, but you want your restaurant to have the ability to stay relevant forever. Following fads also run the risk of getting lost in the sauce. There was a time where every other restaurant popping up named themselves by adjoining two words with an ampersand, combining two adjectives that describe the vibe of their restaurant. Today, these restaurants are hard to distinguish between and often unknowingly attach themselves to other trends of the time in a potential guest’s subconscious. It’s hard to see this particular naming fad and not immediately think you’re walking into another restaurant serving locally sourced small plates and hand-crafted cocktails in a hip, mid-century mod setting. As an alternative, try marrying an adjective and noun that is descriptive of your concept. Second Sight Design chose the name “The Naughty Fox” for this Catalina Island bar & restaurant by embracing the island’s most notorious animal and using a punny play on their nautical location on Avalon’s boat harbor. Coupled together, these words take on the power of a proper noun that rolls off the tongue and commands a distinctive intrigue to those who have yet to visit the restaurant.
Focus Group It
Think you’ve landed on a name you love? Before you run with it, run your potential name by a diverse group of people. Pull in friends, family and others in the scene. What is their first reaction? How does the name make them feel? Try not to become too emotionally invested in a name you really like before considering this valuable input. Sometimes your “perfect” name might have an unpleasant connotation for someone else. Their considered feedback will help decide whether or not your name will resonate with your future guests.