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How to Name a Mobile App

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According to Google's research, 31% of consumers download apps because they sound interesting or fun. And what is the first thing your potential users learn about your product? Bingo! It's the name of the app!

Coming up with creative names for apps is not a piece of cake – but it's not exceptionally difficult either. Even if you consider yourself incapable of being creative, we know you can find that one name for your app that will win over people's hearts – and we are here to help you do it.

Why the Name Matters

Wait, why do you even need to dwell on naming an app if you could be doing something else for your business? While it may seem to make a lot of sense to stick with the first idea that pops into your mind, there are three major reasons why you shouldn't overlook this step or treat it as unimportant.

1. It Is Your Customer’s First Impression of You

And you know you can't make a first impression twice. The name of the app and its logo are the first things any potential user will see and pay attention to, even before they take a look at the description, and certainly before they decide whether it is worth installing or not. So, if the name doesn't look that interesting or compelling, fewer users will check it out.

2. It Can Be Your Competitive Advantage

Unless you create a completely unique, first-of-its-kind app, you are going to have competitors, and there is no denying it. Considering that your app's name is your customer’s first impression of you, the better it is, the more attractive your product appears than your competitors' ones.

3. It Reflects Your Brand

It is up to you what you want your brand to feel like – and you need to think about it if you want to win over potential users' hearts. The name of your app has the power to evoke certain emotions and make your brand seem either edgy or stable, familiar or one of a kind, etc.

What Makes an App Name Good?

How can you be sure that the name you've come up with is a good one? What should you strive for?

Generally, you can break the app name displayed on Google Play Store or App Store down into two parts. The first one is the name of the app itself – its brand name, basically. The second part, which comes after a separator symbol (like - or |), contains keywords relevant to the search. For instance, if you are going to launch a music player app, you should include the word "music" in the second part.

Let's break down the "good app name" recipe into its main ingredients. A great app name should be:

  • Descriptive. It should give a good hint about the core purpose of the app and/or the main association with using it. Don't shy away from using associations instead of straightforward descriptions – they will leave a more powerful impression than just the word "calculator".
  • Optimized for search. We've mentioned the second part of the title – this is the part that should include SEO keywords. You still need to make sure users will be able to find your app, right?
  • Able to roll off the tongue. This is how you can test your ideas – say them out loud. Is it easy to pronounce them? If it is, it will be easy for your potential users to remember the name afterward.
  • Original. Are you thinking about another -gram or -ify? Drop that thought – people will forget this name a minute after they see it because it's so similar to the already famous Instagram and Spotify.
  • Short and simple. The name of the app itself should consist of one or two words. You can combine two words into one and use camel case (e.g. SoundCloud) or just smash them together (e.g. Facebook).
app name ideas

7 Tips for Naming an App

All right, now that we know what makes an app name good, how do we achieve it? Here are seven tips we've gathered based on our own experience – take a look at them to make sure you'll come up with an awesome name for your app.

1. Brainstorm

Take a sheet of paper and write down every association you have with your app. (And we do mean every single one, no matter how ridiculous some of them may seem to you.) These associations can be tied to:

  • your app's main purpose.
  • its main feature(s).
  • its target audience.
  • what it will feel like to use your app.
  • how it can change its users' lives.

Once you have a huge list of potential app names, you can filter them and start toying with them by smashing two words together or modifying them in any other ways (we'll cover this a bit later).

However, keep your mind brainstorming even after you're done writing associations down for at least a couple of days. You could hear or see an interesting combination or metaphor in your daily life that will sparkle up your search.

2. Do Your Research

There can be no good results without any research. However, we'd like to suggest you do this part of the research after the initial brainstorming session to minimize the risk of killing your creative flow. If you rush into research, you may constrain yourself to thinking inside the box with the lines being defined by someone else, thus limiting your ability to come up with a truly original name.

What should you research? Start with the obvious – your competitors. You need to know what associations they use to avoid repeating them. You should also research your target audience, especially what words they use when looking for an app similar to yours.

startup mobile app name ideas

If you have already run any UX interviews or end-user tests, take a look at how interviewees described their experiences. Are there any words that pop up more frequently than others? These may be a valuable insight on what end users may associate your app with. Don't miss the chance to take advantage of such associations – use them in the app name.

3. Keep It Simple

First of all, keep the name to one word. Secondly, avoid camel case if it's not necessary to mitigate the risk of mispronunciation. (Yes, camel case was popular once, but it's not anymore – so make sure you don't look like a dinosaur.)

The main point, however, is this – don't confuse your potential users with an overcomplicated meaning of your app's name. Remember the KISS principle – "keep it simple, stupid". The name should be easy to understand for anyone. Therefore, avoid abbreviations and complicated terms.

4. Modify the Words

Now we've come to the most interesting part – tweaking words to make them stand out. Here are some things you can do:

  • Smash two words together (e.g. Pinterest = pin + interest, Instagram = instant + telegram).
  • Replace the 'y' or 'ey' at the end of the word with an 'i' (e.g. Bubbli).
  • Add a 'y' at the end (e.g. Tasky).
  • Omit vowels (e.g. Findr).
  • Double vowels (e.g. Maark).
  • Replace a letter with one that has a similar pronunciation (e.g. Lyft).

5. Keep It within the Limit

We've mentioned before that you need to keep your app's name short. That's not just because the shorter it is, the easier it is to perceive and memorize – the limitations imposed by app marketplaces play their part as well.

how to name a mobile app

Google Play Store allows you to use up to 50 characters for your app title. Apple's App Store has reduced its allowed number of characters for app names from 255 to just 30. However, only 10 characters will be seen on an average smartphone – the rest of the characters will be replaced with three dots. So, keep in mind these restrictions when creating your app's name.

6. Ask for Help

Coming up with a name for anything all by yourself is an almost 100% guarantee you won't end up with a truly creative one. So, talk to your colleagues, people in your LinkedIn network, even friends and family to brainstorm more ideas. Collective brainpower is a better creative tool than a single mind.

Once you have narrowed your options down to a couple of cool names for your app, choosing only one may seem like mission impossible to you. This is when you should run these ideas by someone else – preferably people who are likely to be using the app afterward.

7. Use Name Generators

If you've exhausted your creative juices, but still haven't found that astonishing name, you can try using name generators created to help out people in such a situation. There are tons of them, with the most widely known being Panabee, Nameboy, and Name Mesh. Type the word associations you’ve brainstormed and see what comes out of it.

3 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

Now that we have covered how to name a mobile app, let's take a quick look at the three key don'ts of the process.

1. Copying Another App's Name

This is a huge no-no. Today's competition in any market is about standing out – you can't stand out if your app's name sounds similar to another one. Instead of being a copycat, allow yourself to go a bit nuts with your associations, and trust your gut.

2. Ignoring the Research Phase

This happens way too often, unfortunately. The research phase is not just about demographics – you need to fully grasp who your perfect potential user is and be able to step into his or her shoes. Don't rely only on stats that you find online – conduct your own research. Do user experience interviews, especially if you have an MVP ready. Talk to your potential users. All of this can give you vital information on what users may like or dislike when it comes to your app's name.

3. Sticking with the First Idea

While we understand that you can't possibly dedicate months to finding the best possible name for your app, the reality is that your first ideas are likely to be dull. So, let your brain heat up a bit and make some room for creativity – and true creativity always takes time.

In Conclusion

It is impossible to find the perfect name for an app; perfection is something we can only aim for and never reach. So take your time to come up with an original name that reflects your brand and the essence of your app, but do not dwell on it for too long. The good news is that you can test several name ideas among potential users and make your final choice based on their opinions.

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