The Daily Grind. Java Hut. Common Grounds. We’ve all been to one—classic choices made to put a new café on the map, but more often than not relegating it to the back of the line with all the others.
In the restaurant business, choosing a name for your coffee shop is one of the most important decisions you will make. The name of your coffee shop is the foundation for your brand. Make it a good one!
Most new cafés play it safe, settling for one of the three classic categories: Puns (“Muddy Waters”); side effects of caffeine (“Jitterbug Café”); or some variant on the word “Java.” Others take too big of a risk—a quick internet search will find you dozens of unfortunately-named coffee shops.
Some food for thought:
Think about what captures the essence of your business. Yes, your name should probably imply that you sell coffee, but think bigger. What makes you unique? For example, maybe you’ve decided to participate in the Suspended Coffee Society, a movement that encourages customers to purchase a cup of coffee in advance, not for themselves, but for someone else who needs it. Perhaps you would want to highlight this mindset in your choice of name. Maybe it’s your intention to compost every single piece of waste you produce. Or maybe you sell only coffee and one other item—say, waffles. Any one of these ideas could produce a name with distinction—The Waffee Shop?—and will help you stand out from the crowd.
Something memorable and lasting (and possibly unusual). Your name should be easy to spell and pronounce, because (you hope) a good deal of your business traffic is going to come by word-of-mouth. One study at New York University found that businesses with simpler names tended to perform better on the stock market. Your satisfied customers are going to want to talk you up, tell their friends, drum up additional business for you. Make it easy for them. One proven tool is to have a visual component that ties in.
Something that hasn’t been taken. It might be a great idea, but if it’s too similar to another shop, their legal team may come calling. And with all the start-up costs and overhead you’ll be managing, you definitely don’t want any extra fees coming your way. As special as your dream of opening your own café may be, others are trying the same thing. There are about 20,000 coffee shops in the United States alone, and that’s not counting the majority of new ones—which unfortunately fail.
If this has got you feeling overwhelmed, why not consider hiring a branding expert or a public relations firm? After all, you’re about to invest north of $150,000 in startup costs, so what’s another $2,500 if it means the difference between a killer brand and, well, Just Another Coffee Shop?
Simple, original, distinctive—what seems certain is that a name can make or break your new venture.