For most of us, our name existed even before we did. In anticipation of our arrival, our parents went through an ultra stressful process of narrowing down dozens of potential names until they chose the perfect one. Luckily they did, because whatever your name is, it has followed you throughout your entire life; and in some cases, people may have heard of your name before they’ve ever met you. When it comes to how to name an app, it’s of similar importance as naming a child. The name of your app will follow your brand forever, and in many cases, potential users will hear the name before they ever actually use your app.
Naming an app isn’t as easy as it sounds – and knowing how to name an app effectively can separate your app from other competitors. Sure, “Google” sounds cool now, but 20 years ago, who ever would have imagined that it would be a name we use every day? Now, when someone says “Google”, everyone around the world knows exactly what it means. The name overcomes language barriers, age barriers and every other barrier – no matter where you are in the world, “Google” is a name that everyone knows.
But how do you come up with such a clever name for your interesting app? How do you choose a name that sticks like Google, Facebook, Twitter or Evernote? To inspire you to create a name that really represents your app, we talked to several app developers and entrepreneurs, and asked how they came up with their app names. If you’re wondering how to name an app, here are the tips you need.
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1. Reflect Your App’s Core Features
Many successful apps choose a name that describe what the app does. Just by hearing the name, you know that WeChat is a messaging app or that Netflix has something to do with video on the net. Sometimes, users will judge your app immediately based off of a first impression and without reading your app description – having a name that explains the features of your app can give you a major advantage in these cases.
“We were talking about how fast the app sends questions from the poll manager’s iOS device to the respondent’s smartphones (because it doesn’t depend on backend servers). Someone said it felt like we were sending questions through the air – and that’s how we came up with the idea to call it: QuestionAir.”
The name of your app doesn’t have to be extremely clever. Sometimes, clever can be complicated. A simple name is easy to remember, and makes it easy for consumers to understand what the app is all about. Ionuț Mănășturean, the founder of Mini Games told us, “The name of our app, Mini Games, is simple and easy to remember. I picked this name because I wanted to express that our app has many mini games to play. When we looked at our competition, we realized that the first ranking app for the ‘mini games’ keyword was an app that was only in Russian. I saw this as an opportunity, so I began working on an English mini games app. As a result of choosing the right name, our app is now ranked first for the ‘mini games’ keyword in the app store.”
2. Differentiate Your Name With A Play On Words
Sometimes, a play on words can provide you with the perfect app name. Take the app, Free Map Israel. This crowdsourced map application changed their name to Waze in 2008; a play on the word ways, which was perfect since the app represents the vast number of ways that an individual can get to a specific location.
Aggrey Ellis, Director of Customer Experience at Gopher Leads, shared with us the backstory of how their app name was created. He said, “We created a simple mobile app that allows employees to earn extra rewards by referring sales and other opportunities to their company. Gopher Leads, sounds like ‘Go For Leads’, as we try to convince employees to rally around and ‘go for’ sales.”
Maybe you can’t get the exact word that describes your app, but differentiating slightly can give you a memorable twist and open you up to more options. There’s a caveat here though, if you get too creative, you may make it harder for users to find your app. If users are searching for Ways, it may be difficult to find Waze if they don’t remember that the spelling is different.
3. Keep It Short and Memorable
A long name with several words and many characters is an surefire way to ensure that users forget the name of your app. Ideally, you want a short name with a minimal number of characters that is unique and memorable. Skype, SnapChat and Tinder are all billion dollar apps that have short and memorable names. Not only are these names easy to remember, but they are also easy for users to communicate when recommending them to their peers.
Yusuf Motiwala, founder and CEO of Mesibo, told us about how he came up with the name for his app. He told us, “We were trying to come up with a name for our new messaging startup, the requirements being – it should be unique, easy to pronounce and spell, have association with messaging, be one word and less than eight characters. As simple as that sounds, finding a name with those criteria became an almost impossible exercise. Despite extensive days of brainstorming, we were unable to come up with a name that was convincing and that met our criteria. One day, one of us suggested that since we have both voice and video as core features; we should think ‘beyond messaging’ to search for a name. This became the tipping point in our search for the right app name. The name ‘Mesibo’ was derived from picking letters from the phrase ‘Messaging and Beyond’.”
4. Make Your App Name An Action Word
While these words may not be in the dictionary, we all know what it means when someone says “Google it” or “Skype me”. In many cases, you know you’ve reached success when the name of your app becomes an action word. One major tip when learning how to name an app – consider how your app sounds in everyday speech and how it flows with normal language.
Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of dating app, Cheekd, has a funny story about how she came up with her app name. Lori told us, “Growing up with the last name Cheek was kind of a pain in the butt (excuse the pun), but it finally came in handy. For weeks, I was racking my brain about the verb that was going to finish the statement, ‘You’ve Been ______.’ and then one day it hit me. You’ve been ‘Cheekd!’ The word is now in Wikipedia and the funnier thing is that a few years ago, I was on ABC’s Shark Tank… my epic episode re-airs all over the world all the time and I recently got this random email: “Did you ever wonder how different your life would have been if your last name was Smith… or Johnson… or Bennett?’ and yes, I have!”
5. Choose A Name That Is Searchable
Sometimes, a name can be chosen because it fits the entrepreneur’s goals for marketing and customer acquisition. Consider the fact that 63% of smartphone users discover apps through the app store; searching specific keywords to find an app that solves their customer problem. Since such a large portion of downloads are a result of searching, it is a wise decision to choose a name that aligns with the keywords that are being searched. For example, the app LiveAuctions aligns perfectly to what consumers are likely searching for – live auctions. Not only will they likely rank higher than other auction sites that have less-aligned names, but customers will know exactly what the app is about as soon as they read the name.
Newaz Chowdhury, the Marketing Manager at Powerphrase, recently told us how they came up with the name for their mobile game – Trump’s Great Wall of America. Newaz said, “When you pick a name for an app, you want to make sure it has keywords that people are searching for in search engines and the mobile app stores. For us, we looked at our competition to see what apps were showing up when you searched particular keywords. We found that the words ‘Trump’, ‘Great Wall’ and ‘America’ all had significant search volume. As a result, we chose our name. This was also around the time when Matt Damon’s movie, ‘The Great Wall’ released – and as an additional benefit, ‘Great Wall’ is also an extremely popular search term in China. As a result, we received a spike in downloads from China and elsewhere – leading to consistent traffic and downloads.”
6. Align It With A Domain
Most likely, you will want to have a landing page that corresponds with your mobile app. Try to choose a name that is available, but that also has the same name available as a web domain.
Saurabh Jindal, founder of Talk Travel, told us about how domain availability factored into his decision for an app name. He told us, “TalkTravel is a voice mobile application that enables travellers to speak, in their own preferred language, to destination experts. For us, we wanted to convey the idea of travel and talk to make travel simple. We also wanted something seemingly easy to remember and that sticks in people’s mind. It came down to a choice between Travel Talk and Talk Travel; but, the Travel Talk website domain wasn’t available. Hence, we decided to go with TalkTravel.”
Patrick van der Mijl, co-founder of Speakap also chose their name as a result of domain availability. Patrick told us, “It was a rainy Sunday when we did our research for a business name eight years ago. The choice for ‘Speakap’ boiled down to domain availability; our criteria was that the name had to be short, simple, and related to communication. Speakap made sense, because we enable employees to be heard.”
7. Pick The Obvious Name
Sometimes you don’t need to choose a name, because the right name may just choose you. Tasker, for instance, probably didn’t put a whole lot of thought into creating a unique name – Tasker made sense and is a pretty obvious choice for an app that helps you manage tasks. Likewise, theScore is a pretty obvious app name for a sports score app. In many cases, the obvious choice fits the criteria of many of the previous tips – it will likely reflect your core features, it’ll likely be searchable, and if it truly the obvious choice, it’ll also be memorable.
Cody Swann, CEO of Gunner Technology, told us the story of how the name of his app uConsent came to be. He told us, “uConsent is an app that acts as a digital handshake between two people and is designed to foster interpersonal communication around sexual intimacy while creating an anonymous and secure record of that communication, including location, time and specifics of the request. In this case, uConsent was an obvious choice. In fact, most of the time the name is obvious if you think about it long enough, but it’s important to let the name produce itself naturally.”
8. Connect With Your Consumer’s Emotions
There’s something about a name that pulls on our heartstrings or evokes a certain emotion from us – and when it comes to how to name an app, an emotional name may give you the edge that you need. Take MyFitnessPal, for instance – it’s not just another fitness tracking app but it’s also your pal; someone you can depend on to hold you accountable to your fitness goals. Family Locator, is another app name that immediately pulls on the emotions of users. It immediately makes you think of the possibility of not being able to locate your family and gives you immediate incentive to download.
Zach Hendrix, co-founder of GreenPal told us a similar story of how they came up with their app name. Zach told us, “We wanted our mobile app’s name to invoke a personal response from our users. When you are looking for a lawn care service, you usually ask a friend or family member for a recommendation. So we decided to combine the color of green grass with the feeling of getting a recommendation from your friend, or family, or your pal. After brainstorming for weeks, we landed on GreenPal and it has stuck.”
The Most Important App Naming Tip
While all of these tips are extremely important in learning how to name an app, here’s one tip that’s more critical than all the rest – make sure your app is as good as your app name. There’s nothing worse than clicking upon some really awesome sounding app, only to be disappointed by a not-so-awesome software solution. When you choose your great app name, make sure it truly represents a great app.
As always, we’re here to help you build awesome apps. We’ve helped dozens of startups around the world to develop innovative and market leading technology – and we’d love to help you introduce your app idea to the world too! Contact us for a free consultation with one of our app startup consultants to learn about how we can help you bring your app idea to life.