How to Name a Restaurant (And Choose a Logo)

By: Julia Beebe

5 Minute Read

Nov 15, 2016

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3 Tips To Naming Your Restaurant

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So you've decided to open a new restaurant.

You know what type of food you'd like to serve because your Italian grandmother made killer homemade pasta and you want to share it with the world... or you noticed that your town is deeply in need of a quick-serve frozen yogurt shop.

You've built a business plan. You've decided on a few vendors. You've obtained the permits and licenses for your new space.

Everything is lining up, and you really want to start getting the word out - but before you can do that, you need a memorable name and logo for your new restaurant.

So how to do you start? You can certainly reach out to local agencies, design schools, or even peruse Craigslist for some enterprising freelancers, but whether you're outsourcing this job or not, you still need to do some groundwork. The last thing you want is to spend money on designs that have no basis in research and will ultimately hurt rather than help the launch of your new restaurant.

Here are some tips on how to get started:

1. Examine your competitors.

Taking a look at your competitors' name, logo, and brand is a good place to start. Chances are, they've done a lot of the same research you should be doing, so it can at least give you a reference point.

However, bear in mind: What you define as a "competitor" may impact your research.

For example, if you're launching a Greek fast casual restaurant, ideally you'll examine other Greek fast casual restaurants. However, you may also want to examine Greek full-service or quick-servie chains or ethnic fast casual concepts that may have similar target markets. If you're a single location restaurant in a downtown area, you might consider all the restaurants within a two-block radius of your direct competitors, even if they aren't similar in style or offerings.

When assessing your competitors, understand what emotion their brand evokes by evaluating these five factors:

  • Color
  • Typography
  • Iconography
  • Copy
  • Decor

For example, if their primary colors are red and orange, they might be positioning themselves as fun, youthful, and spicy. If they're using shades of green, they might be portraying themselves as local, farm-to-table, and nature-conscious. If they use primarily black and white, they might want their customers to perceive them as classic and exclusive.

As you examine your competitors' color, typography, iconography, copy, and decor, define how their customers, and ultimately your customers, perceive this restaurant and how you will differentiate your new restaurant.

2. Understand your customers (and your competitors' customers).

Chances are, the people you want to visit your restaurant are the same people your competitors want.

An easy way to peek into your future customer base is to visit your competitors and examine their customers. How many personas can you pick out among the regular visitors? What are the busiest times of day? Do a lot of people take-out or order online? Read this restaurant's online reviews to get a better understanding of what people like and dislike about the existing businesses you'll be up against.

Finding the answers to these questions can help you understand whether the research you did in tip #1 is valid. Just because all of your Greek fast casual competitors use a pun in their name, design their restaurants with the Greek Isles in mind, and utilize the color blue doesn't mean that's what their audience cares about. Maybe most of their customer's aren't even of Greek decent and they actually love the healthy aspects of Greek food and don't necessary care that it's Greek at all. Just because a lot of your competitors are doing something similar doesn't mean it's right.

Once you understand what your customers are interested in and care about, you'll be able to better define how your concept will appeal to them.

3. When in doubt, keep it personal or local.

If even after your research, you don't feel like a clear path is laid out for you, go back to the basics and focus on something personal to you or relevant to the area. If your restaurant really did begin because of your grandmother's homemade pasta recipe, then use that story to inspire your branding, logo, and name. With the success of websites like Ancestry.com and even various countries creating festivals around inviting expats to come back to their homeland, it's obvious that people want to better understand and experience their history.

(On a personal note, I can't help but visit and take photos of restaurants that have Bee themed names - hence the image above - because my last name is Beebe. It's silly, but they just speak to me!)

If you don't have personal history to help define your restaurant concept, maybe pull from the history of your area. Every town has its own stories some are historically relevant, and others may be simply funny and unique to your area. Whether you're building off of a local legend, like a troll under a bridge, or embracing a historical figure like John Harvard, you can build upon that story line to weave your restaurant into the history of your area.

What are your restaurant branding tips?

At the end of the day, creating an experience that resonates with your guest can be easily enhanced or disrupted with the wrong name, logo, and brand.

The combination of delicious food, fantastic service, and a powerful restaurant name and logo is really what's going to make the different for any new restaurant concept.

What secrets have you used to help define a memorable and successful restaurant brand? Leave a comment below.

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