In this opinion piece, Paul Lin, CEO of mobile app developers Empirical Works, says it’s paramount to have a good app name, and gives us the run-down on how to make sure it’s actually good.
It is no exaggeration to say that naming your app well is critical for its success. A well-named app is instantly noticeable and memorable when a user spots it in the app store – with so many new apps landing on the app stores each day, visibility is essential.
A well-named app also tends to pop up high on the search results list when users search for a topic relevant to it.
But naming an app isn’t easy – after all, you’ve only got a tiny few characters to do it, and those characters need to convey a lot of explicit and implied messaging.
What to do
1. Research your name ideas first
The app name obviously has to be original, and it can’t just be original on the app store that you’re submitting it to; if you’re planning on setting up a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account to support the app (and of course you should be doing that), then you’ll need to make sure your app’s desired name is original across the whole Internet. Discard any app name ideas where you spot duplication.
2. Use a compound word
A popular trend among the most popular apps is to take a word that describes what the app does (“note”, “Tweet”), and enhance it with an emotive word that grabs the user’s attention (“Ever,” “bot”). The result is a descriptive word that immediately engages the user’s emotional interest while also explaining what the app does (you guessed it – “Evernote” and “Tweetbot”).
3. Make it pronounceable
This should go without saying, but a person should be able to repeat the name of the app in conversation. So, make sure you have a really good reason before mashing symbols or numbers in between letters in your app name.
4. Use correct grammar
An app will occasionally hit the big time when its name is presented all in caps, or starts with a lowercase letter, but if you do this you’ll be fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy you wouldn’t have to fight otherwise. We strongly recommend that you name apps using sentence-case, where you capitalise the first letter of each word, use lower-case for each other letter, and don’t capitalise small joining words such as “the”, “and,” or “is.”
5. Use no more than 11 characters for the bundle display name
Research has shown that a name should be 11 characters or fewer. Coming in at or below that number will mean the app looks clean and complete on the user’s collection of apps on their device, which in turn helps to generate confidence in it.
What not to do
1. Fail to optimise for keywords
Before your name your app, you should research what the most popular keywords are, related to what the app does. The name of the app should reference at least the most popular search term, because in doing that, the app will be more easily discoverable through search.
2. Use an overused or trademarked name
If you’ve built a game and put “Angry” or “Zombies” in the name, then you’ve deliberately put it out into a swampland filled with “Angry” and “Zombie” games that consumers are tired of wading through. Call your photo-taking app “Insta-something,” and you may well have Facebook’s lawyers come knocking. Don’t infringe on trademarks, and don’t use overused names.
3. Miss out on taking advantage of bundle display name vs app name
After coming up with a killer bundle display name, many developers forget to follow through and come up with something more descriptive. The app name can be significantly longer and more descriptive than the bundle display name, and it is here where you can load your app up with good, highly searchable words to pull in any audience that might be looking on the Internet for what your app is offering.
4. Fail to research your Twitter and Web URL first
So many developers come up with a killer app name that is original and interesting to the app store, only to discover that either the URL or social media profiles for that name are already taken. This can really impact on the public perception of your app, if the pre-existing account and website (where you can’t control content) are of a poor standard. We can’t emphasise this one enough: make sure you’re able to register all social media profiles and websites you’ll need to suit the name of your app before you register the app name.
The app that you’re developing only gets to have one name (with a few notable exceptions). You want to make sure it’s a name that can last, to prevent confusion amongst your audience. Take your time and do your research before settling on a name. Call in some focus groups, or speak to an expert in naming design. That extra couple of weeks or months (and small additional expense) can mean the difference between a best seller, and something that languishes down the bottom of the app store.