Name it not to name
When I and Tetsuro still lived in London, we used to come to Amsterdam one weekend a month to visit a coffeeshop called Betty Boop (Nieuwzijds Kolk 12). After the owner of Betty Boop bought another coffeeshop on Reguliersdwarsstraat in 2003 and named it ‘Betty Too’, we started going there, too. ‘Too’ of ‘ ‘ Betty Too’ must have meant ‘the number two’ as it was the owner’s second coffeeshop with the Betty Boop theme. A couple of years later, The owner decided to sell Betty Too and we bought it. I arrived in Amsterdam at the end of 2006 to start there and Tetsuro followed. For the first couple of years after the take-over, we kept everything as it was including the name. We were proud of the pretty shop and it’s beautiful clientèle that the ex-owner/friend had created. As ex-regulars, we were more than happy to live with the shop’ s great legacy.
In a couple of years however, we grew in confidence and new ideas and fancied a bit of a change. Not to deny the past completely but to add a bit of our own colours. We literally did that by re-decorating during the autumn/winter 09/10. The trade mark red colour was replaced with black, white and pastel colours which are impossible to name.
We also wanted to refine the shop name and the logo. We wanted to get rid of the ‘number 2 shop’ image as we felt that we’ d made the shop original enough by then. However, it also seemed rather strange to change the name completely after calling ourselves ‘Betty’ for almost three years. We first came up with an idea to change the name to ‘Betti’. Getting rid of ‘Too=2’ was important and changing the spelling to Betti was not to be always associated with the Betty Boop character. Our Betty Boop-related features have been popular amongst patrons but we believed we had more to offer.
However, this first option failed to convince us. We thought this change might be only confusing and might not get our message across. Tetsuro would have been happy to go for this name had it looked great in the same design as his favourite UK indie band’s logo, but it wasn’t the case either. We even googled ‘Betti’ to find someone cool called Betti in order to justify our choice but it is not how you should pick a name for a shop where your soul lives. By the way, we found out that there used to be an Italian mathematician called Betti and he discovered what is called ‘Betti numbers’. He was a master of topology. But we knew, we weren’t smart enough to explain what it is to impress the customers and sell our new name with confidence.
I discussed my dilemma with Peter, a regular and journalist who knows everything about the shop’s neighbourhood and the community. He said ‘Oh, I like the name ‘Betty Too’. It sound friendly, like, ´ You and me and Betty, too!’.
An eye-opener. ‘Too’ is NOT ‘2’. It is a word which is used when you mention more than one thing. It perfectly fits our belief that our shop has many things to offer. We can say ‘We do movie nights, we make our own lemonade, we have a sunny balcony, our shop is pretty and clean, coffee is great, and yeah, we also have pictures of Betty, too!’ As I continued to chat with Peter, I also remembered a Betty Too logo which my colleague and friend Damien Blaauw designed for one occasion in the past. ‘Betty Too’ in pretty lettering was followed by a big ‘!’. The exclamation mark gives an extra buzz! I quickly started having an image of a new logo with ‘Betty, TOO!’ which looks like a part of a sentence. I loved the idea that the name is not really a noun or noun phrase. A noun or a noun phrase gives one definition, no more, no less. If we call it ‘Betty, TOO!’ what could come before Betty is totally up to us and whoever come to the shop (I guess word-minded people like Peter and Damien were somehow noticing that)! I spoke to Tetsuro and colleagues and everyone said yes straight away. The name is ‘Betty, TOO!’ with comma and exclamation mark and ‘too’ in capitals. Our new yet not-so-new name is now a symbol of freedom and open opportunities…!
Having agreed on the concept of the name, the design of our new business cards came pretty naturally. I, Tetsuro, colleagues and friends put together words which we thought could be associated with the shop and added a phrase ‘…and of course Betty, TOO!’. We made it a background to the bigger print of the logo. We used the ‘ courier font’ so that it looks like someone was typing them all up. Process of finding words was so much fun and it was great to know that we had to drop some to fit them in one card. This means the shop has many things to offer. The design is simple and beautiful thanks to hard work of my colleague and friend Martijn van Veen. Many people have grabbed copies by now. It would be a small souvenir for a traveller whilst I’m surprised that many locals also take ones. They say, it’s easy when you make an appointment with someone if you can give a card. Smart.
Fresh start and Betty, TOO!
By now, we have tried many things (failing spectacularly many times) and went through numerous changes. It will stay that way in the future. We order 500 cards a time which seem to last only for a couple of months and we will be adding new words every time we order a new batch. Our biggest wish is that you all join us and add crazy words and colours to Betty, TOO!