Just a few years ago the Restaurant Branding Roadmap community of restaurant owners and hospitality leaders was a very small group. Today we have a robust network of nearly 5,000 strong. We have chefs, first-time operators, suppliers, and veteran restaurateurs.

Our weekly articles, webinars, and products have been designed to address many of your areas of interest and inquiries. To be more sensitive of your time (or lack of) this week we are going to start categorizing our content into three experience levels:

Level 1 – New to the restaurant business, start up, and first time operators
Level 2 – Intermediate, some experience, and looking for ways to improve
Level 3 – Marketing maverick, experienced operators, still curious, and open to new ideas

We hope this change provides you with even more value.


This week’s post is ideal for:

Level 1

Choosing the Right Name For Your Restaurant

It should go without saying that choosing a great name for your restaurant is of paramount importance when you’re building an image and business. Imagine a fine dining restaurant named ‘Dave’s Dark Dungeon of Delights.’ What preconceptions would you have before entering this place? Would you even go?

It should best reflect your restaurant’s style and focus, and a great name should differentiate you from the crowd. It should also last as long as your business and appeal to your target audience.

Are you serving Asian food? An unusual fusion of two styles of food? Are your customers business professionals? Families? Your choice of name is a critical part of your brand that sends a message to guests even before they walk in your door. Finding a great restaurant name can be a difficult, costly, and time-consuming task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Just remember, there is no perfect formula; a name can be based on logic, it can be an abstract made-up word, or it can be tied to a story in history, a person, or a famous geographic landmark.

Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be on your way:

1) Get clear on your concept and offering.
What kind of food will you serve? Will your experience be formal dining or fast casual? Whatever you decide, the answer should align with your naming ideas.

2) Observe other restaurants in your market.
What works for successful establishments? What’s not working for the ones that are struggling? What brain-space are they trying to dominate?

3) Start making a big list of words. Consider these to be Name Seeds.
Think of adjectives that describe the personality you’re trying to convey. Now jot down one-syllable nouns that align with your restaurant story or concept.

Start combining these ideas. Try different word treatments like alliteration, which has worked with businesses such as Dunkin’ Donuts, American Airlines and Coca Cola, or focus on ingredients for ideas, such as the success of Chili House or Lemongrass Lounge Café. Also consider acronyms like KFC, rhymes such as Oodles of Noodles, and abbreviations akin to The Spag House. See a complete list of word treatments and other creative naming possibilities for naming your business in our ebook.

4) Now the shorten list and investigate whether a URL is available.

A website URL that doesn’t accurately represent a restaurant’s name looks unprofessional and can be confusing. If the name is not available, this could be a red flag that the trademark may not be available either. If you are 500% sure that you will only have one location in your market, this may not be a problem, but if there is any chance that you will grow or be bought by a larger restaurant group, not having a trademark may create expensive challenges in the future. Eliminate names from the list according to your url and trademark research.

5) With your shortlist and your research conducted, now think about the visual possibilities and auditory appeal.
Do the names on your shortlist look nice when displayed from afar? Or in a small application like on a business card? What kind of imagery do the words conjure up? How do the words roll off a guest’s tongue and how does it sound when an employee answers the phone using it? Does each name go well with a particular symbol/image? With your shortlist taking shape you may want to spend a little money to have an artist explore some logos and type treatment.

Don’t forget Crowd-sourcing as a low cost way to get help and feedback about other names and art. See a previous post for some excellent resources.

For a comprehensive learning video on restaurant brand identity, check out our RBR Academy. Here we offer a complete branding course and individual modules on specific branding topics too.

If you’ve got a question about naming your restaurant, post a comment below or shoot us an email.