Direct-to-consumer cookware brands have been around for a while, but 2020 was a turning point for the category. Covid lockdowns and quarantine cooking played a significant role in fueling their rise. With restaurants closed and nowhere to go, we grew scallions on our window sills, nurtured sourdough starters, baked banana bread. Home cooking was a balm, or a burden, or perhaps both, depending on who you asked. No matter which way your feelings on cooking swing, having better (and more good-looking) tools for the job arguably has the power to make this everyday task easier. With their design-forward, often colorful products, DTC cookware brands were perfectly positioned to go against the industry's old reliables in 2020 and beyond, stirring the pot with eye-catching branding and interesting names.
Of course, it’s the names that interest us most. While industry stalwarts like All-Clad, KitchenAid, or Calphalon tend to keep it straightforward or technical, these DTC brands turn up the heat with monikers that are quirky, creative, and compelling.
Phrasal names are a natural fit for this category. Our Place calls to mind nights spent gathered around a dining table with friends and family. (Their best-selling product, the ubiquitous Always Pan, can go from stove to table and is available in hues like sage, spice, or turmeric.) Made In, founded on a fourth-generation kitchen supply business, highlights its American-made, professional-grade cookware. Equal Parts wants to bring magic back to every home cook’s kitchen by combining fun and function in equal measure. Field Company, which makes cast iron products inspired by the heirloom quality of vintage skillets, is named after the founders’ maternal grandmother. At the same time, it calls to mind the ruggedness of outdoor cooking and the durability of cast iron.
Great Jones has a name that piques curiosity and carries a rich story within. It’s an homage to Judith Jones, an author and editor who championed the work of Julia Child, Edna Lewis, James Beard, among others. (We have her to thank for the Diary of Anne Frank, which she famously rescued from the reject pile.) It’s also a nod to Great Jones Street in New York City as well, where the brand is based.
One-word names like Material (redesigned tools that are made to last) and Goldilocks (pots that fit just right) range from the simple to the whimsical. The culinary lexicon provides plenty of inspiration as well. Misen, which touts “better tools for better cooking,” is coined from French term mise en place. It means “putting in place,” the way chefs lay out and organize all the ingredients they need right before cooking. Caraway, named after the caraway seed, could be interpreted as a brand that wants to bring the spice and sizzle back to your cooking. Being a brand that prides itself on being ethical and sustainable, with no harmful chemicals involved in its creation, the name seems to contain another layer of meaning: cookware that eases your cares away.
In the direct-to-consumer world where much of the narrative is about cutting out the middleman, disrupting a tired category, and righting an industry’s wrongs, the possibilities for naming are infinite. DTC cookware, however, is becoming an increasingly crowded field. The way we see it, with the competition heating up, your very name (hopefully something memorable, interesting, distinct) could be your secret sauce.
Liz Yap is a strategist for naming and brand language at Tanj.