How to Name Your App (A Definitive Guide)
What’s in a name? Plenty, if you’re going to try to make money off it.
Picking a name for something is important.
The name establishes your app’s identity.
You want to project the images associated with your name into the minds of people.
This helps establish power and reliability.
Think of iconic brand names that are recognized globally, like Nike, Coca-Cola, or McDonald’s.
You can’t just pull a name out of thin air and expect it to be a major success.
The name of your app is also a factor when it comes to the search ranking.
It’s possible to have a great app, but if the name sucks it may not get any recognition.
Picking the wrong name could potentially backfire if it’s viewed as inappropriate or has other negative connotations related to it.
That’s why it’s important to consider a number of different factors before settling on a name.
While naming your app doesn’t necessarily have to be the first thing you do, it should be toward the top of the list.
Well, think about your marketing strategy.
How are you planning to promote your app without knowing the name of it?
But waiting until the development process is over to think of a name is way too late.
Promoting your app as soon as possible is the best way to ensure that you’ll get lots of downloads when it launches.
As someone who has been in the mobile app industry for quite some time, I’ve seen a number of different companies come up with great names and others who failed at this task.
If you’re struggling to come up with a good name, I’ll help you out.
Here’s what you need to know.
Look at competitors
To identify your competitors, go to the App Store and see who the top performers are in your category.
Taking a look at what other people are doing should be one of the first steps of naming your app.
What types of names are having the most success?
Are they short? Long? Named after a person? Do they have unique spelling?
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, just improve it.
Make a name that’s better than your competition.
But be careful.
You don’t want to run into any legal trouble by naming your app too closely to another person’s.
Not only could this get you into a sticky situation with the law, but it’s also confusing for customer recognition purposes.
In fact, the Google Play Store has policies in place that warn against deception and impersonation.
Naming your app something similar to an existing app could get yours removed from the store, which is not a situation you want to find yourself in.
But you can still turn to your competitors to learn from both success stories as well as failures when picking your name.
Analyzing your competitors is important as a general marketing strategy as well.
You’ll learn other valuable information about how your company stacks up against the competition if you perform a SWOT analysis.
Look deeper than their name.
Analyze their customers as well.
While the name may initially draw the customers to a particular brand, what elements of their app keep the customers coming back and using it on a regular basis?
That’s what’s really important.
Look at the marketplace
Now that you’ve analyzed the competition, it’s time to look where you’re planning to launch your app.
Is it going to be released on the Google Play Store for Android users?
Or will it be available for iOS users on the Apple App Store?
As I mentioned earlier, the name of your app will impact your search ranking depending on where you release it.
So you’ve got to follow the best practices for naming conversions based on the platform, and then get creative so it’s also a name that you can brand (which we’ll discuss shortly).
Plus, as we just discussed, it never hurts to see what others similar to your app are doing with their name and search strategy.
Apple says that the name of your app has a “critical role” in how it gets discovered on their platform.
If you’re releasing your app in their store, the name cannot exceed 30 characters.
They also recommend simplicity in the naming process.
The name should be memorable, and it should not be too difficult to spell.
Whatever name you land on has to be associated with the functions of your app.
For example, look at an app like Snapchat.
The name clearly hints to the functionality and what the app does.
“Snap” implies pictures.
“Chat” implies they will be shared as a message.
Here’s the example that Apple uses as good app name that meets their requirements.
Apple also suggests staying away from a name that uses generic terminology.
You also can’t name your app something that’s too similar to other apps that are already on their platform, which I mentioned earlier could get you into some legal trouble as well.
The name of your app will display the same way on every Apple device including all iPhone versions, iPads, and Apple TVs.
One of the main differences that you’ll notice on the Google Play Store is that the name of your app can be up to 50 characters.
Take a look at the note that I highlighted at the bottom of this image as well.
Just because you can have a longer name, it doesn’t mean you can just start to throw extra keywords into your title.
If you do that, it’s grounds for a suspension from the Google Play Store.
Even if you’re launching on Android’s platform initially, I would still recommend keeping the name under 30 characters.
That way you’ll have consistency if you decide to develop for iOS devices as well.
Having two separate names on different platforms is not a good branding strategy.
As I was just saying, make sure you pick a name that looks good on both platforms as well as other verticals, such as websites, social media sites, or even tshirts.
That’s the best way to brand yourself.
You don’t want to just be an app (even if that’s all you are right now).
A proper branding strategy can establish much more.
Brand names are recognizable.
Earlier I talked about some brand names that are recognized across the globe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that just because you have branding strategy that you’ll be as well known as Coca-Cola.
But why not try?
Even if your name isn’t recognized on a global scale, you should at least aim to be known on a national or regional level.
Part of establishing a brand means that you’ll also need to come up with a logo that’s associated with your company.
This logo can even double as your app icon.
For example, let’s look at a reputable and successfully branded company like Yelp.
They use their website logo as their app icon.
So I’d recommend coming up with a company logo that’s simple enough to use as your app icon.
That way it’s easy for users to identify exactly who you are as a company.
Branding also sets up for expansion.
While that may not be on your mind right now, since you haven’t even released your app yet, it may be something that you’ll consider in the future.
Be clever, but not too clever (don’t be stupid)
So I realize that I’ve been telling you so far how your name needs to be clever and unique.
That’s the best way to stand out from the crowd.
With that said, it’s best to avoid crazy spelling, punctuation, phrasing or similar affections.
You may be able to get away with it if it’s REALLLLLY part of the brand you want to establish (see what I did there).
But even then, use it sparingly if at all.
I’d recommend steering clear from this strategy.
Adding obscure spelling and anything else of a similar nature will make it harder for your app to get discovered by users.
For example, let’s say someone has heard of your company through a friend or word of mouth.
But then they go to search for it in the app store, but can’t find it because you’re spelling a word like “fire” as “fyre” instead.
Unless this user thinks your app is going to drastically change their life for the better, I doubt they are going to put too much effort into figuring out the correct spelling.
So that’s why I would advise you from staying away from this strategy altogether.
Furthermore, you want your app to be recognizable, but not for the wrong reasons.
If your app is an acronym, make sure that it doesn’t stand for something else that’s viewed as inappropriate.
The form should follow function.
If your app performs a certain task, try to incorporate that connotation into your name.
This is a great way to make it stick out in the potential customer’s mind.
Get opinions from people you trust
There’s no reason for you to come up with a name all by yourself.
While you may have some good ideas, it can’t hurt to ask others what they think about your choices before you make it official.
So find people with good taste and ask them to give you some advice about the names on the top of your list.
Chances are, they will be able to provide some valuable insights.
Maybe they will even give you a fresh perspective on something you haven’t considered.
I recommend asking friends and family for advice first.
If you ask your employees, they may not be as honest as someone who isn’t on your payroll.
People on your staff could be afraid to give you their honest opinion in fear that they could lose their job.
While your siblings or spouse won’t be as hesitant to say, “That name stinks.”
If you really want the opinion of an expert, you could always consult with a third party marketing agency that specializes in branding.
These experts have the networks in place to conduct market research validation.
They can reach out to consumers through focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, or other mediums to get feedback about your name and its association with your brand.
You could conduct this research yourself to save some money, but it may not be as efficient.
Obviously, your ties to the company will have some personal biases involved in the process.
So getting someone else to contact and interview consumers may yield more accurate and informative results.
In any case, picking a name for your app is much easier said than done.
It’s actually one of the most important yet underrated things you’ll have to do during the process of launching your app and business.
As I stated earlier, it doesn’t need to be the first thing on your list but needs to be a top priority.
You can’t start promoting your app until you can establish a name.
Start by analyzing your competition.
See what they’re doing well and learn from any mistakes they’ve made.
Next, look at the marketplace.
There are different rules and regulations in place between the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
With that said, it’s best to come up with a name that’s universal and fits the parameters between both platforms.
That way you can expand in the future, even if you’re only launching on one operating system to start with.
Come up with a name that’s easy to brand.
You want it to be recognizable on a local, regional, national, and global scale.
The name of your app, logo, and app icon should be identical across all of your networks, including your website and social media pages.
Avoid using extra letters, misspelled words, or anything else that’s going to make it hard for people to find your app.
If you’re having trouble, seek advice from people who you can trust.
Don’t downplay the importance of a clever name.
If you get it wrong, it’s going to be embedded into everything you do.
It’s not going to be an easy mistake to fix.
Use the tips that I’ve outlined above, so you don’t screw it up.
What are the top three choices you’ve considered during the process of naming your app?