So you’ve decided to start your own coffee shop, you’ve done all the research, found the perfect space, decided on a menu, started hiring…but alas, the shop is still unnamed. Well, it’s your lucky day, because I’ve done a ton of research. By the end of this guide, you should have all the tools necessary to name your coffee shop!
The process of naming your coffee shop can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. The most important things to keep in mind are to go with your instinct while staying true to your brand and being unique without being confusing. We’ll go through the processes in depth in this article, but these are really the two main things necessary to pick an amazing name for your coffee shop.
Naming your coffee shop is arguably the most important decision you’ll make for your business. The name will be the image of the coffee shop; it’ll initially draw people in and be ingrained in their minds as what the business is. Many people get wrapped up in unnecessary details when choosing a name: wanting to make sure it’s quirky, reflective of the setting, and tells a story. Yes, all of those details are important when choosing a name, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be what “feels right” (as ambiguous as that sounds). Luckily, I’ve outlined below how to go through various steps to address all the aspects that go into choosing a name. And I’ve also included how to narrow and simplify the decisions.
Step 1: Get inspired and brainstorm!
You know all those details I said people get wrapped up in? Such as wanting to perhaps express too much in a name? Well the initial step of the process is where it is okay to be a bit wrapped up in excitement!
The hardest part is getting started, staring at a blank piece of paper can be intimidating. So it’s important to be open in the beginning. Keep in mind everything that goes into the business; the location, the people and the type of setting you’d like to create. Make a list of all these things.
Not sure where to start? That’s okay start with a few “categories” such as location, clientele and atmosphere. Then list different relevant things under each category. For example under location start with the city, town or neighborhood that your coffee shop is in and write that down. Then start making connection; what comes to mind when you hear the location’s name? If my coffee shop is going to be located in Seattle I might start there and follow with “rain,” “green,” and “mountains,” which are all frequently associated with the city. All can also be easily used in a name.
Or perhaps you want to start with what kind of clientele you’re hoping to attract. If you want to be a place where moms get together over a good cup of coffee write that down, or maybe you’re aiming for the student crowd or artists. Any of these can be a good basis for a name and image. Additionally, you’ll want to keep in mind the atmosphere you want to create at your coffee shop. If you want a calm and serene oasis for people to enjoy caffeine write that down. Or if you want to be a lively watering hole write that down to. The names that will attract these different groups are likely to be vastly different.
One last thing to keep in mind when brainstorming is that you want the business purpose to be clear. So since you’re naming a coffee shop, you’ll probably want to use the word “coffee” in the name. Or something that alludes to coffee (beans, caffeine, espresso, etc.).
Once you’ve started the initial process of category brainstorming you can start making connections between the different categories (ie: a cafe in Seattle for young moms and relaxing vibe). Keeping in mind you want to be clear it’s a coffee shop, (even if you don’t want to be that specific in the name) and voila! You’ll be able to start a new list of potential names. This will make up the “brainstorming” list you’ll be working on through the rest of the process.
If you need additional inspiration browse Pinterest, go for a walk in the neighborhood, or wander in local shops. Inspiration can spark anywhere, these are just a few suggestions!
Step 2: Maintain the brand and business story (and include coffee shop)
After you’ve brainstormed an initial list of potential names you’ll want to focus the search a bit. The easiest way to do this is to think about what your brand is, what kind of story you want to tell with your business.
Go back to why you started the coffee shop in the first place (although be warned this may start another “inspiration” tangent) and what your reasons are for having the business now. Your motivations might have changed, but I’m sure deep down there is an underlying “message” you want to convey.
Perhaps it’s as simple as wanting to create a calm and tranquil atmosphere for the community. Or maybe you wish to have more lively clientele who “work from home” at your coffee shop or are actively working on group projects over coffee. Think about it and you’ll notice some names on your list start to seem like better choices.
Going back to my “relaxing cafe for young moms in Seattle” idea. Maybe my list includes “Green Bean Oasis,” “R&R in Rain City Coffee House,” and “Caffeine Mountain House.” Which one seems likely to attract moms looking to relax? Probably “R&R in Rain City Coffee House,” although it’s a bit long. That’s okay; hopefully, all your brainstorming thus far has given you at least a dozen options. So if your first choice is a bit long, look at others that are good contenders. And of course, you can always edit! There’s no reason you HAVE to keep your initial draft name. Maybe after a bit of thought, I change “R&R in Rain City Coffee House” to “Rainy R&R Coffee.” Rolls off the tongue a bit better now, huh?
At the end of this process, try and have it narrowed to no more than four or five names and at least two. Then you can move on to the next step!
Step 3: Make sure it’s available
The most important thing you can do to protect your business is double-, triple-, and quadruple-check that the name is available. From a legal standpoint, this means making sure the name has not been trademarked in any way. I won’t go into details here but keep in mind that even if the name is trademarked and registered in another state, this often still prevents you from using it in your state.
The easiest way to check this is to use your old friend Google! Google your top name choice and see if anything pops up. If something does, that’s still okay just click around the internet and see if it has a copyright symbol next to it anywhere. If so, it’s probably best to move on to other choices. Also, keep in mind even if your exact name doesn’t pop up, if something pretty close does you should probably steer clear. As always this guide isn’t meant to be legal advice so if you have specific questions consult a lawyer!
Additionally, even if the name is not trademarked you still want to make sure it’s not “taken” in a different way. Without legal parameters, this is a bit more subjective, but basically check your local area, is the name already use in your town or neighborhood? Or perhaps the next one over? Then it’s still probably not the best choice, even if it’s legally available it won’t stand out or make your coffee shop any more memorable if it’s already remembered as another business.
After you’ve mentally (or literally) walked through your neighborhood to check on name availability go back to Google! You may not know a new shop popped up recently using your exact (or very similar) name choice! Additionally, you may not know a coffee shop a town over is named similarly, the internet “sees” more than you do, so always check!
Once you’ve checked trademarked and neighborhood availability you may have to cross a few of your top contenders off. That’s okay, it makes deciding a lot easier!
If this hasn’t narrowed your search and you have more than two names left, time to cross of some choices using other methods. Maybe one of your names sounds to generic like “Oceanside Coffee” or maybe it’s not reflective of the brand, like “Mountain Coffee House” in a desert. Either way you have some tough decisions, but as always go with your gut keeping in mind three main themes I’ve discussed!
- Be original – you want people to remember you, don’t choose something generic!
- Stay true to the brand – don’t call it “R&R something” if you want a lively client base!
- Be clear – use a coffee-related word so people know what you’re about!
Now you should have one name left that you can take with you to the next and final step!
Step 4: Choose a subheading or slogan
Okay. So you’ve chosen an amazing name that’s original, reflects your business brand, will attract your desired clientele and maybe even tells a story or cracks a joke. Great! You know how you can take your image and name to the next level? Adding a subheading or slogan!
Think about it, how many cafes, restaurants or bars have you been to that are called “XYZ Cafe” but then below say something like “best pie in the Cascades” or, “We’re here to caffeinate you!” It’s just an added piece that draws people in even more, tells them a bit more about your business and intentions, and just sets you apart from generic sounding names!
Think about it, if you were choosing between my “Rainy R&R Coffee” idea from earlier and generic Starbucks maybe my coffee shop sounds a bit more “locally authentic” and interesting. But you’re still not sure, Starbucks is safe, it has a known brand and quality, it doesn’t need a slogan – people know what Starbucks is. People don’t know what “Rainy R&R Coffee” is, so what can I do to pull those potential customers away from Starbucks’ corporate genericness?
Tell them what “Rainy R&R Coffee” is all about! So maybe I’ll add “every mom’s first choice to relax and caffeinate” under the title. Again I’m going for a specific clientele, so might as well and be clear about that. Of course it would be easy to turn non-moms away with this title so maybe I’d go with something a bit more (but not too) generic. “Rainy R&R Coffee – best place to relax and caffeinate in Seattle”, again you can be a bit wordier on the slogan it’s in addition too, not part of the name.
Choose a good sign!
This is a bit of a “bonus” step, you’ll want to display your new amazing name and slogan! You’ll want to choose something that’s easy to see from the street, easy to read and not too obstructive. So choose an appropriately sized sign for where it will be placed, easy to read (and large) text, and contrasting colors that are easy on the eyes! It helps to have a designer draw up a few options and then narrow it down similarly to how you chose the name! More info about design can be found here.
Should I use something foreign or unique sounding?
Often people want to use a French or Italian sounding name to reflect a European style cafe. This can go well, if it’s a commonly known word or clear in meaning (such as cafe which means coffee/cafe in French) but it can also turn people away if it’s too foreign. The best advice is to test it with friends and family and get their feedback, if it’s cute or just confusing.
Should I try and be funny?
Again this can go well, if it’s done properly. First you need to think about if you are going for a fun and laugh-filled type of atmosphere. If you want a more serene or calm atmosphere, maybe leave the jokes at home. But if you want a lively caffeine watering hole, try it out with friends and family and gauge reactions!
Starting a coffee shop is not as difficult as you might think. Follow our top tips and you’ll get started on the right foot.
If you would like to learn how to start your own coffee shop, click here to get started.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.