Washingtonian – Why Do So Many Hot New Restaurants Have Names That Sound the Same?

In fact, though, the food world is inherently and relentlessly copycat and faddish (cf. chefs turning to food trucks, the trend of restaurants opening on the outer edges of downtown, the explosion of hipster Asian cooking.) Or, as Phillip Davis, the president of Tungsten Branding, a North Carolina-based branding and name development company for start-ups and entrepreneurs, puts it: “fish still swim in schools.” “Really creative names,” he said, “are perpendicular to trends.” And most businesses don’t want to be perpendicular to trends; they want to be congruent with them. He likened a creative name to the “kid in school with a white pressed shirt and tie. The really creative kid is the oddball kid.” Davis said the first question he asks of potential clients is, “Do you want to stand out or do you want to fit in?” “I tell people: when you do something different in the name, the product has to be tangibly different, so that the aha! of what you’re doing matches the aha! of the name. It has to be measurably different from other, similar business or experientially different.” When he frames the matter for his clients like that, Davis said, they begin to understand the enormous pressure they will be subjecting themselves to in stamping themselves as different from the herd. Better to sound like everyone else, they reason, and strive to carve out a small niche in the marketplace by putting out a useful, high-quality product.

Phil Davis

With over twenty-five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought-after naming expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.