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How do I choose a name for my new restaurant?

18 May 2006
I'm opening my own restaurant for the first time. How do I choose a name that's both appropriate and memorable? Carol Godsmark, journalist and restaurant consultant Is your new restaurant a neighbourhood one, a destination eaterie, a brasserie or bistro, an ethnic one or a gastropub or café? The name is all important to attract the type of customer you want. Choosing a good name that reflects your type of business is crucial. Avoid gimmicky, clichéd names to establish a good first impression. Consider the non-professional messages sent out by Kitch ‘n D'Or, Bizarre Bazaar, Thai Tanic, Cup ‘O' Chino and Kwizeen? Yes, all these do exist. Avoid choosing too bland a name that no one remembers, or one that's duplicated up and down the land. You want to stand out from the crowd. Avoid the too-complicated, tongue-twisting name which members of staff must answer the phone with, or the customer has to pronounce. This can be a real turn-off if it's a tricky foreign name. Most Brits are too embarrassed to get the pronunciation wrong. Avoid numbers - 162 Cavendish Road, for example - as people find it difficult to look you up in the phone book. Is it under one-six-two, or the number? Avoid naming the place after your high-profile chef. If he or she moves on, you're left with rebranding at great expense. Choosing a very French or Italian name will pigeonhole you. If you add Thai, Bangladeshi or fusion cooking to a resolutely European menu after a change of chef, this will confuse customers. But if you wish to offer the best authentic Italian or French food the area has to offer, go for a name that reflects your strengths. Capitalise on the restaurant's location if you have a view to die for by calling it after the location. This draws customers looking for a setting when searching guides. Ann Elliott, Elliott Independent This is usually the really fun part of opening your own place. It may sound obvious, but make sure you like the name you choose - you might have to live with it for years. Make sure it fits with the theme of your restaurant. Certain words will provoke certain images with customers, so check that the name suggests what you want it to suggest. If your restaurant does have a theme, then buy magazines, read books, watch TV and scan the internet for ideas. Look around for inspiration. Any journey can prompt ideas from the most unlikely places. If you've recruited a team, hold a brainstorm session. Put the ideas on a flipchart and leave them for a day or two. There will be names that come back to you and stick in your mind - those are the ones you should go with. Invite your friends to come round and ask them for ideas - often a bottle of wine helps the process. Get them to be as creative as possible and ban the word "no" from the process. If you have any creative friends, ask them for help and ideas. You can reward them with free meals when you're open. You could run a competition in the local media. It would generate lots of publicity and encourage customers to visit. When you have your name, check it hasn't been used before and isn't copyrighted. A lawyer will advise. Make sure it doesn't have any double meanings in other languages. Then see how the name sounds when someone is answering the phone and see how it looks in graphic form. If you still like it, then go with it! www.elliottindependent.co.uk](http://www.elliottindependent.co.uk) Paul West, Ignite Marketing A good name is the essence of a great brand, but coming up with one can be tricky. The best technique for developing a suitable name is to brainstorm. This process usually involves a group of people throwing ideas in the pot and then discussing the results. This should be done with your staff so that they feel included in the process; perhaps offer a case of wine to the person who comes up with a name that's chosen. It's usually helpful to have a board where ideas can be written and then discussed, which breeds more ideas. When brainstorming names, consider the following to help get the best results: - Independent restaurant names often work if they have a story behind them. For example, take inspiration from the history of the building, the location or the thought process behind the opening. On the other hand, chain brands often require something short, generic and catchy that isn't location-specific. - Your name must be appealing to your target audience. Take inspiration from items they associate with. - Take into account the atmosphere and decor of the concept. Young and trendy, classic or contemporary, the name must complement the style. - The name must meet the requirements of your brand positioning and meet your brand aspirations. Don't name your fine-dining restaurant the Caff. - If specialising in a particular cuisine, you could choose a name that relates to the food. Once you've developed a shortlist of names it's a good idea to test them out on friends, family and your target market. If you have a memorable and likeable name you'll soon know, as feedback will be very positive. [www.ignitemarketing.co.uk
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