Key pointers to choosing the right name for your app, and why naming an app is not the same as naming an energy drink.
Choosing the right name for your awesome app is much like picking a name for any product – be it an energy drink or housing project. However, unlike physical products, the names of digital products like apps and websites influence the product discoverability in app store and web search results.
There are many ways to come up with an original, catchy and memorable name. Some prefer to brainstorm with friends or colleagues while others rather sit a few hours on the beach with a pen and paper to let loose their inspiration.
Many will check for an available dot com domain before deciding on a name and may use this method to determine the level of competition on a term or keyword they’ve chosen as part of the name.
No matter what method you choose, it’s important to keep in mind a few key points from the very start of the app naming process.
Describe Your Product
A name that describes your product will obviously make it easier to find. For example, a user looking for a dictionary app will most likely search the app store for terms like “dictionary” or “translation”. By including these terms in your dictionary app name will cause it to appear higher in app store search results. If you include words like “easy” and “simple” in the name, the app will appear more attractive to novice users browsing or searching for an app.
Including app functionality definitions in the name is not always necessary and some apps with seemingly uninformative names like Shazam have conquered the users’ hearts and gained popularity. If your app is hard to describe in 2 or 3 words or if it delivers an unprecedented type of technology or value, you may want to save the explanation for the description field in the app page.
Does Size Matter?
The number of characters you can use for the name of your app differs from app store to app store. Google Play allows up to 30 characters in the name field, while Apple doesn’t limit the name length, but may not approve your app if you type in too much text in the name field.
App names in Google Play: Only the first characters of the name appear, while the rest blend into the background
The length of the name you enter in the name field of your app in the app store is a bit of a two edged sword. On one hand, a short app name simply looks better in search results and category listings in the app store. On the other hand, relevant keywords and search terms in the name field will significantly increase the app visibility in search results, leading to more clicks and downloads.
When deciding what to include in the app name field, one must consider a number of factors; how “buttoned up” your app is trying to appear, what your promotion channels are, aside from search results in the app store and others. Take into account that even if you’ve started out with a long name filled with keywords and search terms, you will be able to shorten it later in the app store, when users begin to recognize your brand name or even app icon.
Original and Easy to Remember
Avoid copying or imitating popular app names. For example, if you call your genius and unique navigation app “Wazer”, not only will the users see you as uncreative copy-cats, but you might also receive a very unpleasant letter from the lawyers at Google, even if your app looks or functions nothing like the Waze navigation app.
Another bad habit many developers have when naming apps is simply adding the letter “I” before some app-related term or another (like i-Fishing, i-Helicopter and thousands of other i-Apps you’ll find in the app stores) or the term App (like WhatsApp, NoteApp, FlipApp etc.). If you want to be truly original, avoid adding these prefixes and suffixes.
Your app name needs to be not only easy to remember, but also easy to spell right. For example, the developers of CallApp picked a name that is easy to spell wrong when searching for the app (and instead search for CallUp, Call-App or Call-Up) and this probably causes them to lose many potential users who searched for the app but found something completely different.
Cause for diabetes: The apps you get searching for the keyword “candy”.
Speak Your Users Language
If you’ve started designing or planning your app, you should already have a pretty good idea who your audience is and who your potentials users are. Obviously, when communicating with your potential users you would want to do it in a language they understand and a communication style they can relate to. For example, when targeting a young male population you might want to use words like “Boom”, “Fight”, “Win”, “Combat” and such. In addition, make sure you select an app name that doesn’t sound negatively in foreign languages, especially if you’re targeting an international audience. For example, in Russian the world “s#it” actually means “shield”.
Once you’ve come up with a few directions or even options for a name, it’s time to do some market research to ensure your app’s cool and awesome name has not been taken by another app developer, or even some completely unrelated organization. Why only then? Because doing the research before brainstorming for ideas might limit your creative thinking and cause you to choose a name that draws inspiration from a competitor. Using a name too similar to another app may cause difficulty in differentiating the app from its competition in the app store.
A few others things you might want to check in your market research are domain names and twitter username.
If you search the app stores and the web, you’ll find quite a few examples of awful app naming. You might learn more from those lists about choosing an app name than you might from browsing the top download charts.
The name you choose for your app will have a great influence on how easy it will be for your users to find it, remember it and eventually how successful your app will be. Therefore, it’s important to invest time and thought in the name you wish your product to have on the market. Note that you will always be able to edit the name field in the app store and change the name, but you need to take into account the effects re-branding might have on your loyal user base.
Changing the name of an app after it’s acquired an active user base is kind of like changing your name when all your friends, family and colleagues are used to calling you by your original name.