The Name Game

I was in mid-town Manhattan a couple of weeks ago.

The place is so full of energy it almost lifts you off your feet.

It’s a little frenetic for me as a steady diet, as I am of the Chromosomes California. But walking down 7th Avenue around Time Square is a sensory feast and you can store the dynamism in your memory banks and revisit whenever you like.

The streets around mid-town are awash with restaurants—restaurants of every size, flavor, ethnicity and price. I don’t know how they all stay in business, but walking back to my hotel from a business meeting late on a breathtaking May afternoon I marveled at the culinary diversity.

But I wasn’t looking to stop and eat. I had fallen in love with a little place down the street from my hotel and was strolling down 9th Avenue when I glanced across the street and was stopped dead in my tracks by a brand that was scrolled across the awning over the entrance to a restaurant

Marketing brands don’t stop everybody in their tracks, but I’m a little odd that way.

The communication was so immediate and so strong that I almost abandoned the planned rendezvous with my cute little restaurant down the street.

The brand?


Five napkins! Five? Whoa…. This burger has got to be seriously juicy.

I get an instant image of a wickedly luscious hamburger and can feel the juice start to penetrate the napkins and leak onto my hand. The thought of it almost propelled me across 9th Avenue. If it hadn’t been for a storming hoard of antagonistic, horn-honking New York cabbies I might have made the dash.

Instead, I just stared at the branded awning over the entrance and smiled. What a great name.

True, you have to have some kind of ranking on the Burger Aficionado scale to appreciate my reaction. My vegetarian daughter and her Vegan husband, both Sports Illustrated trim, healthy specimens, would react…eh, less favorably.

But I love a good burger and trim bodies are overrated.

Here’s a picture of the restaurant’s namesake

from the 5 Napkin Burger website.

In case you can’t read the description, it says, “The name says it all. 10 oz fresh ground chuck, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli on a soft white roll. Way too juicy for one napkin. Or four.”

Lest you think it’s all burgers, this place has a fabulous menu. Take a look.

There are five locations now – 3 in Manhattan, one in Boston and one in Miami.

Can I get an amen for an LA opening?

Premium burger chains are experiencing a mouth-watering emergence these days. Here in LA, Umami Burger has expanded handsomely. The brand itself isn’t driving the expansion, one has to research online to even find out what it means.

The tastes of sweet, salty, bitter and sour are familiar, but there is a fifth taste we can perceive with our tongue. Called umami, its taste has been described as rounded, rich and savory.

It’s a cool word but a foggy brand. The Umami phenomenon is not driven by the esoteric Japanese name, but by word of mouth about some of the most seriously delicious burgers on planet Earth.

Another upscale burger chain that has been blossoming across the Southland is The Counter. Good burgers. They have an extraordinary variety of toppings and sauces and other add ons, but their brand doesn’t tell their story.

I’m not a restaurant critic; I do marketing – surveys, positioning and branding. I find the advice in an essay L Ron Hubbard wrote on branding entitled Naming Services and Products of particular use in helping clients name their product or to pick a brand:

“In marketing and PR tech, a name has to be easily remembered, easily communicated, must stick in the mind and must describe what it represents.”

It’s not hard to see which of the following fulfills those requirements:

Five Napkin Burger

Umami Burger

The Counter

Personally, I love the 5 Napkin Burger brand and I have this to look forward to…the next time I’m in Manhattan, I’m going to do Five Napkin Burger proud.

Bruce Wiseman

Bruce Wiseman

Bruce Wiseman is the President & CEO of On Target Research a market research and survey company founded in Los Angeles, in 1987, now with offices in Toronto and Moscow (
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