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May 2, 2022

How to choose the right name for your restaurant

Picking the right name for your restaurant isn’t easy. Discover top tips from Amy Dennis, founder of the Nice Branding Agency.
May 2, 2022

Picking the right name for your restaurant isn’t easy.

In fact, brand strategist Amy Dennis says it’s “probably one of the hardest jobs we encounter”.

She’s the founder of the Nice Branding Agency, which “combines industry research with brand strategy to create options for a restaurant name that will roll off the tongue.”

For episode 6 of The Recipe, we talked to Amy about how she helps restaurants choose the right name.

Here are her top tips.

It's not about naming — it’s about positioning

“It's about the purpose. It's about the story. It's about the narrative. It's about this restaurant’s position in the world. Why does it matter?” Dennis says. “To successfully name a restaurant, that must first be determined.”

Figure out as much as possible

When she starts working with a client, Dennis learns “everything about them that we can: their past, their future, their goals, their target market, what they're serving, how they're going to serve it. That gives us a really good idea of what's in their head and what they're seeing.”

Do market research

“We look at the market, the competition, what's around, different people within that same genre of food,” Dennis says.

Define the brand

Next, Dennis writes the restaurant’s “brand story” — verbally and visually. This includes describing the brand’s attributes — "how internally your brand is going to act” — and creating a mood board to capture your brand’s "aura”.

Throw the options against the wall

Now the naming process can begin and the aim is to come up with as many names as possible. At Nice Branding Agency, once everybody on the team has brainstormed alone, they start throwing ideas around. Sometimes they’ve ended up "covering an entire wall with a hundred options”, Dennis says.

Aim for clarity

“A name has to be clear. You have to be able to say it. You don't want it to be said one way or another,” Dennis says. The aims to ensure there’s no room for pronunciation situations “that's just going to dilute the brand over time”.

Aim for stickability

“Try to find something that's memorable, that’s interesting, that's going to make somebody take a second look when they hear it,” Dennis says.

Watch for speed bumps

Restaurants that think they’ve come up with a great name should think of “anything might shift this the other way”, Dennis says. “Is there anything that could be wrong? What are the problems with this name?”

Check out the name

To that end, Dennis recommends doing a general trademark check and checking the name on Urban Dictionary — “just to make sure there are no meanings that we're not thinking of that might come back to us later.”

Want more inspiration about choosing a surefire restaurant name?

Check out episode 6 of The Recipe — What’s In a Name?— on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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