Thursday, March 06, 2008

What’s in a name? Pretty much everything…

Topaz…what do you think of when you first hear topaz? The shaving blade your father used in the days before Sensor Excels and Mach – Mach3s??

How about a restaurant serving Indian food?? Naah- not really.

10 months ago, near where I live in 7th Block, Koramangla, Bangalore, a new restaurant serving Indian food opened. This (opening of restaurants) is a fairly common occurrence in Bangalore, especially Koramangla with a new place, serving a different cuisine, with a unique name opening almost every week. What is not a common occurrence is for the restaurant to be called “TOPAZ”, which is a name which almost never conjures up images of food and a new eating joint in the heart of Bangalore to not be choc-a-block with diners over the weekend, which sadly topaz never was.

I have walked past that restaurant almost everyday and always wondered what was it that made someone name their restaurant TOPAZ, and 10 months, and am yet to come up with an answer. Not able to just be content with simply wondering, I decided to walk in and sample the fare – something which no Indian restaurant should get wrong, Daal Makhani & butter Naan. Unfortunately, I had to come back disappointed with the just average food and above average prices.

Also, a firm believer of the wonders of marketing and branding, I decided to speak to the management about the possibility of a name change and even suggested a few Indian options, but the management present were clueless on why the owners named it Topaz in the first place!

Now 10 months later, Topaz has quietly shut shop and am sure not too many people notice the difference in Koramangla’s geography or miss it.

I am left wondering- could a mere name change, something as simple as “bawarchi khana”, “mirch masala” have saved the restaurant?


Subhashree Naman said...

Perhaps it would have got people walking in had they changed their name but I am guessing it would have taken more than a name to keep them coming.

PS: That's pretty adventurous of you to try out food at a restaurant that calls itself 'Topaz' ;0)

Subhashree Naman said...

Topaz is a gem. This is a possible explaination for calling the restaurant by that name. Too bad for them a razor blade company did a far better job at selling their product by that name. Luckily for us Taj wasn't taken by vests & briefs for men

manchem said...

Hey Sachin,

I do agree though that “NAME” makes a lot of difference in a lot of situations and would also acknowledge that “Topaz” is an unconventional (not weird) NAME for a restaurant.

But, I am not quite convinced about what you are suggesting, particularly in the mentioned instance. How about names like Haveli (better suits a Hotel than a restaurant), Meghana, Sri Sai and all other regular names of restaurants that we usually come across?

They are ok but, Topaz…naa…right? Yes, right, but why?

I would say that this is a classic example of “Brand Perception”. Topaz was or is an already established brand and we tend to associate it to the same product that we are so familiar with. May be if you would have loved the food at this very restaurant and was hit and famous then the same 10 months later all you could probably think about when anyone said “Topaz” is that restaurant.

I personally do not agree that merely a NAME can impact the performance of a product in the market (it does not mean that I would suggest to name a restaurant “Dog Pile” or something…!). It takes a lot more than just a NAME.

It is something called “Quality”.

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