Choose a name that stands apart
“Every business needs to consider a brand — name, logo, slogan, colors, etc. — that connects with the intended audience and stands out from the crowd,” said Kyle Golding, CEO and Chief Strategic Idealist at business consulting firm The Golding Group.
“The most important part of marketing a restaurant is drawing the right customer, someone who will appreciate what you do and how you do it, along with differentiating your product or service from the competition. A well-crafted name can be a big part of these efforts.”
Let customers know what to expect
“Restaurants do really well when part of their name lets you know what type of food they have or what type or style of restaurant is it,” said Golding. Think “Shake Shack” or “In-N-Out Burger.”“Any good branding needs to paint a picture of what it is before you arrive, not only the type and style of food but other expectations such as cost, service, speed, etc.”That doesn’t mean a name like “Speedy Pizza” is the ideal. There are, after all, plenty of quick-serve pizza places. The name should be “universally recognized but specific to you,” said Golding.Take the name “Chipotle” for example. “It doesn’t say ‘burrito,’ but it has the connotation that it’s Hispanic and a little different from Taco Bell, Taco Bueno, etc.,” said Golding.To arrive at that sweet spot, Golding advised, “Start at opposite ends of the spectrum and work toward the center as a compromise.”The name can also give clues about the overall vibe. When creating the name for a new restaurant and bar in downtown Oklahoma City, the Golding Group arrived at “The Manhattan,” after the drink of the same name. “It fits the style of establishment we’re trying to create — classic but comfortable, familiar but not old-fashioned.”
Adding a word such as “café” “or “restaurant” or the acronym for your city could also work, noted Golding. For example, since “TheManhattan.com” was taken, The Golding Group went with “TheManhattanOKC.com.”
“Now people are so comfortable with URLs that you can go with a little bit longer URL if you need to,” said Golding.
“Any business name should be able to stand the test of time, still be relevant and attractive 5, 10 and 25 years from now,” said Golding. If in the 1980s you named your restaurant “Miami Vice Sandwich Shop,” that name “wouldn’t make any sense today.”
Tempted to use an emoticon or emoji as part of the name? Don’t go there, said Golding.
Make sure it translates to merchandise
Consider that someday you may want your restaurant or café name on napkins or on brand extensions such as T-shirts, mugs, cookbooks or food products. How well will the name you have in mind work?
Names that are very long or rely on punctuation may not play out well on products, said Golding. If the name is based on a color, such as in “Red Café,” know that “there may be times you have to print that in black and white.”
Hire a lawyer to run a national trademark search. “When you apply for your business license with your city and state, that should be part of that process, but that will only cover your state,” said Golding. “If you want to do a national search you’ll want to consult an attorney that does that. The cost is going to be less than $2,000 for a total search and protection service from most reputable attorneys, and in the long run it’s probably worth it. You’ll spend more than that on the signs you’ll put out front, so you don’t want to take them down and start over.”
“The ability to not be closed off to new ideas or challenges to established norms is what sets apart an open-minded leader. A person who can look at the best lessons of the past and current while being open to the ideas of the future has the best opportunity to create success in themselves, their business and employees. Being able to change with the times, flexible when needed and decisive when required is a rare thing today.”
-Kyle Golding, CEO & Chief Strategic Idealist of The Golding Group
He tames redwood by night and develops businesses by day, but Kyle Golding’s jobs don’t end there. The owner of The Golding Group and Share Furniture is also a venture capitalist and a partner in the 1219 Creative Co-Work Space + Art Gallery. “An organic, natural approach is the best way to get people to connect with your product or service,” says the chief strategic idealist who’s as comfortable polishing business plans as he is sanding gnarled wood.
Those slabs of redwood were destined for the landfill until Kyle Golding rescued them from the dumpster. “The cut-off pieces are the hard sections with knotholes,” says Kyle, who fused the three sections into a table. “I almost cut my hand off a couple times while I sanded out some of the roughness. But I kept as much of the natural element as possible.”
At The Golding Group, Kyle also fits pieces of his clients’ stories together into a marketable platform. “As a business owner, you need to connect with the right audience for all the right reasons,” says the CEO. “People don’t even care what your product or service costs as long as they can associate with you for the reasons they find important.”
“We create systems that allow business owners to focus on the real story and the real audience. That way, they avoid the habit of using a snappy ad campaign to sell something based on price or a list of features that has nothing to do with the actual product or company.”
“The hardest work we do is identifying the real target audience,” says Golding, “and a lot of people are not ready for it because they’re afraid of turning down opportunity.” Kyle, on the other hand, is very comfortable turning down opportunities that do not mesh with his company’s modus operandi. “When we ask clients who their customers are, and they say, ‘Everyone,’ I’m not going to do business with them.”
“That’s because, unless you’re selling oxygen, everyone is not your customer.”
Nailing down the customer base is something Kyle’s been doing since he was a teenager. “I played guitar for a rock group before I started doing sound for local bands on the weekends,” he says. That gig led to the formation of a production company while Golding was still in college. “As an audio engineer I did national and international shows,” he says. “The most challenging tour was for Nine Inch Nails because their audio and video feeds had to sync without the audience hearing the cues for the band.”
These days, Kyle sits behind a desk instead of a control panel. But his decidedly untraditional office is at 1219 Creative Co-Work Space + Art Gallery on N. Classen Blvd in Oklahoma City. “At The Golding Group, we set ourselves apart from other business development professionals because we rely heavily on creativity,” he says. Thus his decision to offer co-working spaces as well as large and small offices for lease on a monthly basis. “My co-workers and I like to be around like-minded people because there’s an energy in that kind of environment. It’s been very good for all of us.”
“Everyone who’s in an office at 1219 started at one of the co-work desks,” says Kyle. Although it’s not an official incubator, business lessons rub off on the lessees as readily as linseed oil lends gleam to a table. “When people move out of the co-work desks and into one of our office spaces,” says Kyle, “their businesses are turning into successes.”