The smart way to name your business  

Tips for naming a restaurant

Novanym restaurant name tips

The names of restaurants and eateries throughout the world all too often follow three tried-and-tested approaches (or combinations of the three):

  1. Self-named, e.g. family names or first names, like: Crawford’s Kitchen, Maison Smith, or Luigi’s
  2. Location-based, e.g. The Cambridge Grill, Bistro 62 or Café Northgate
  3. Culinary description, eg Lebanese Dream, Ultimo Pizzeria or Fusion Balti

On the face of it, these approaches make sense. Why wouldn’t you want to just tell people where (or who) you are, and what sort of food you create? The straight answer is - and there’s no polite way of saying this - it tends to result in a dull name.

But more than being boring or indicating a lack of imagination, names like this don’t tend to be very memorable. And for a sector where word-of-mouth recommendations are vital to commercial success, having a name that people find hard to recall is bad news. “I had a great evening in that Thai place near the park” isn’t a good enough referral from a satisfied diner, especially if there are two Thai places near the park.

Following such naming conventions also ignores the two main pillars of good branding – differentiation and engagement. 

DIFFERENTIATION is the way your restaurant or café distinguishes itself from its competitors. This might be the style of food, atmosphere, furniture and layout and so on. But it can also be its name. A name that sounds a bit like other restaurants will not provide differentiation. Whereas a name that ploughs its own furrow, and ignores sector conventions, has a good chance of standing out.

ENGAGEMENT is how your business and its brand connects with customers. The way you meet and greet people, the style of menu, the design of your front of house, the tone and approach of staff - these are all ways a restaurant engages with customers. Once again, the business name is part of this engagement. The right name will set an accurate, appropriate tone for the restaurant, and meet customers’ expectations. A fun, lively restaurant should have a name that reflects this. A prestigious restaurant with aspirations of culinary perfection should be named in the thoughtful, considered style you’d expect.

Suffice to say, in order to generate a name with differentiation and engagement, you’ll need to avoid the obvious, and avoid the conventions. So where do you start? Well, we’ve written some detailed tips for choosing a name with real brand potential in these two posts:

Establishing differentiation >

Creating engagement > 

But the short summary is that you need to bold, and have the courage of your convictions. You also need a good understanding of your competitors - and avoid copying what they do. Ideally you want a name that sounds completely unlike any other restaurants in your area. And you should resist the temptation to use descriptive words. Finally - and I think this is the most important tip - forget logic, and choose a name that just feels right for your type of business. 

Using one of the 'old favourite’ types of business names is missing out on a valuable branding opportunity. But if you follow your heart and select a name that delivers both differentiation and engagement, you might end up with a name that you, and your customers, will love.

You can see some examples of names that we feel would be great for restaurants, bistros and cafés by clicking here >


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