How to name your mobile app

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It seems like mobile developers spend more time naming their applications than I spent choosing a name for my son, and with good reason. Having the right name is critical to your app’s success. So, what do I mean by the right name and how do you make sure your app has it?

A great name is a user magnet

The “right name” will make it easier for users to find your app in the app store and through search engines. Along with your logo, it also stands out in a list of search results, motivating users to click into your full description and download.

Names aren’t set in stone

Don’t rush your app name! It’s as critical as every other component of your project and you have some flexibility. If your app changes or the original name isn’t quite right, test a few names to see what resonates best with users.

“Iterating is hugely important. That includes iterating on your app name, store description and keywords,” advises developer Chris Beauchamp, a Kii Platform Evangelist. “With the KeepSafe privacy app, we tested and modified everything down to the app name. App store optimization was the best way for us to improve visibility.”

Land on a mobile app name that sells

You may not get your app’s name right the first or even second time. But don’t despair; there are a few things you can do to guide your naming process and find a successful name for your app.

Round 1 app naming: Start the process

Your app’s first name should be:

  • Descriptive. When users see your app’s name, do they instantly understand what it does? If not, you’re being too clever for your own good.
  • Searchable. Research what search terms are used most often to find apps like yours, both in app stores and internet search engines. Try to incorporate at least one of them into your app name.
  • Short. Only the first 20-25 characters of an app name show up in most app store search results. Longer names can get cut off, confusing users. One to two words, 11 characters or less seems to be the ideal name length.
  • Easy to say. Tongue twisters detract from your app’s word-of-mouth appeal. If users can’t pronounce it, they probably won’t talk about it.
  • Original. Take a look around app stores and search engines. What names already are in use? Most popular? Make sure yours is different. An original name also makes it easier to get the URL or Twitter handle you want.

Round 2 app naming: Choose the winner

What if Google were still called BackRub? Or if you gulped down an ice cold Brad’s Drink instead of Pepsi-Cola? Clearly, not every name is a keeper out of the gate. To figure out if a new name will make your app more competitive:

  • Run names by other people. Talk to people who have never heard of your app. Describe what it does and ask what they’d call it. Ask your mom. Ask your LinkedIn network. Have more than three other app developers give you feedback.
  • Make sure it’s memorable. When you say your app’s name, do people mistake it for another app? Do they have trouble remembering it? These are signs that your name doesn’t get to the heart of the app’s function or the market is already overly saturated with a particular term. It could also be that your app’s name is too hard or strange for people to say or spell.
  • Tweak. Maybe you don’t need to drastically change your app name but rather enhance it. Try adding a prefix that will help differentiate your app from competitors (e.g., app, i, e, a verb like “go” or “get”) or add a word that will help the name better explain the app’s purpose (e.g., fitness app “Run Keeper,” medical app “Pocket Anatomy,” or sports app “Team Stream”).
  • Go by the numbers. As you make changes to your app name, description, etc., track and monitor results to see what has a positive effect and what doesn’t.

In addition to creating a useful, high-quality app that provides a good user experience, your app’s name is critical to its commercial success. Choose wisely and be willing to change.

How did you land on your app’s name? Let us know in the Comments.

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