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Ducks don’t get drunk… Or do they?

While visiting the English Lake District last January, I came across a pub whose name alone made me want to visit. It’s called The Drunken Duck Inn, and I thought anyone who calls a pub by that name must have a sense of humour and by association must run a great pub. The logic of course is ridiculous but still I went, and on this occasion the pub was amazing in every sense: design, atmosphere, food and yes, so was the beer!   

You can read the story of where the name comes from on the website, but it got me thinking about the impact of a great name. 

Naming a restaurant or bar is one of the most difficult and contentious things to do. Everyone has a pre-conceived idea about a word or words. The worst thing you can do is to let your ego get ahead of you and take ownership of a name expecting everyone to applaud your sense of style and creativity. Quite the opposite, in fact, as people dig their heels in insisting THEIR name is the best.

So my advice is to always use a professional creative firm to do this for you. They will research all the different meanings of the word(s) you choose. They will connect the names they propose with a relevant story so that there’s a reason for the name. They will conduct the all-important title search to ensure that no one else has registered the name and protect you from copyright infringement. They will propose a logo to accompany the name. And because they are experts at this, their suggestions will carry more weight than yours.

As GM of Four Seasons Vancouver, I oversaw the creation of a new restaurant and bar in the hotel called YEW. Up until a day before the printer’s deadline, the restaurant was supposed to be called Cedar due to the popularity of this tree in the area and the use of the wood in the design. However, we made a huge mistake and forgot to do a title search. At the last minute, our director of finance rushed into my office to tell me we could not use this name as it had been registered recently by another company.

I had no time to engage a creative company. That night, I spent hours searching for a new name and eventually landed on the name YEW. It was another tree that was indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. I loved how edgy it was and how easy it was to remember. But I also knew that if I tried to take credit for the name it would be shot down immediately. So the following morning I called Jennifer Johanson, CEO of the design firm who had created the magnificent interiors, and asked her to take ownership of the name. It worked, and everyone embraced the name YEW, not wishing to contradict a great designer!

But I don’t recommend this as a course of action. Hire a great creative company!

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