What’s in a Name?

Inigo Montoya

One of the most important decisions a start-up business owner must make at the beginning of his (or her!) journey is what to name their company. This holds doubly true for a new restaurant – the name must conjure up just the right images, and stir potential customers to try something new. The name, after all, is how the world will know your restaurant – so here are some tips and techniques from your friends at One Fat Frog (and really, with a name like ours, how can you doubt our expertise?!?) Whatever name you decide on, One Fat Frog is here to meet all of your restaurant equipment and supply needs.

First, you need to know what sort of restaurant you are going to run. You must, at least in some way, match the name to the concept of your business. Once you have the basic idea of your restaurant firmly in mind, the next step is simply to think.

That’s right, just think. Brainstorm. Throw every idea that you can up against the wall – some will stick and some will slide down into the muck. Think primarily about how you want people to feel when they hear the name of your restaurant. What images do you want to come into their heads? What words bring up those images in YOUR mind? Write all those words down.

Next, take those words and build from them. Write down words that relate to your original words. Break out the thesaurus, look up the words to see what they are in other languages (especially useful if you serve decidedly ethnic cuisine). Look up the etymology of the words, and find out how they came to mean what they mean. Twist them and turn them and stand them on their heads, and see what jumps out of you.

Once you have expanded your word list to include synonyms, foreign translations, and historical permutations, you can also look at what things relate to those words. What plants, animals, minerals, places, and so on might you think of when you hear a certain word? Try those on for size as well.

Now, play with these words. Try different combinations, try alternate spellings (but don’t make things TOO hard to spell, or your customers will have difficulty finding you in search engines and social media sites). Narrow the list down (but not too much), and pick a big handful that evoke the right response in you when you hear them.

Then, try them out on your family and friends. Ask them what each name makes them think about, and get them to be specific. What images, sounds, smells, tastes come to mind? Are these the things that you want to evoke in your potential customers? If so, you are likely on to something…

Finally, narrow it down to a small handful of names that come closest to creating the right “mental image” in the most people. And then it’s decision time. After all, it’s YOUR business, and the decision is ultimately up to your preferences. If it’s not a name you like, you’ll have a hard time falling in love with the restaurant that it represents, and no one wants to go to work (much less own) a business that they hate the very name of…

And then you’re done. Except, of course, you aren’t. Before you run out and buy that 50′ banner with your new, perfect name on it, make sure you research it thoroughly and determine that you CAN use the new name, legally. But that’s the subject of another post…

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