Frustrated by the challenge of creating a fresh, appealing, and memorable name for your business?
Why not just give up?
That’s what the Whitney Museum is doing, according to a post this week in the New York Times’s Diner’s Journal blog:
Fitting its locale, the restaurant that Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is to open next month in the lower level of the Whitney Museum of American Art will be called Untitled. The museum’s director, Adam Weinberg, came up with the name. Its chef will be Chris Bradley, who was the executive sous chef at Gramercy Tavern. It will serve breakfast and lunch on days when the museum is open, as well as dinner, with a set menu, on Saturdays and Sundays.
(Hat tip: Laura Scheflow.)
“Fitting its locale,” indeed. Very meta, Mr. Weinberg! Very referential, as they say in art criticism, to give a shout-out to all those untitled works of art hanging on the walls.
Also, alas, derivative. Or as regular folks would say, unoriginal.
Once upon a very recent time, a Seattle social-media startup faced a similar naming dilemma and came up with the identical solution. Things did not work out well for “Untitled Startup,” explains co-founder Adam Schoenfeld:
This is the kind of call we’ve had from accounting departments at a few large customers recently:
Me: “Hello. This is Adam.”
Caller: “Hi. [Awkward Pause] I have a $500 charge on my credit card from ‘Untitled.’ This number was listed. What the hell is going on here?”
Me: “Let me explain...”
(Via Name Inspector.)
It’s a relief to learn that Mr. Schoenfeld has renamed his company Simply Measured, a much more meaningful, positive, and sensible name.
It’s possible that the Whitney’s Untitled will prove to be a more effective name than Untitled Startup; after all, art patrons are a different market than social-media customers, and maybe “too clever by half” is exactly what thrills the museum’s visitors. Let’s just hope the menu turns out to have more flavor than the sign on the door.