You’ve come up with a groundbreaking idea for an app and this has prompted the question: What should it be named?
The name you choose for your app can feel like an emotional decision. After all, the very essence of the word ‘name’ tells a story of self-identity and individualism. So you’ve passed it by some friends and have been unpleasantly surprised with their lack of enthusiasm. That’s when you discover that maybe it’s not all that simple.
In my experience as a Melbourne app developer, I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs overlook one of the most important facets of an app’s product strategy – choosing an optimal, descriptive and unique name.
Unlike many traditional businesses and products, app software is bound by market influences and restrictions unique to the digital world. The right name has the potential to help propel your app to App Store stardom. On the flip side, the wrong name may prevent your app from ever getting off the ground.
When it comes to naming your app, you can remove some of the uncertainty. Giving this task the attention it deserves will allow you to optimise the app’s market penetration and drive your target audience towards taking the first and most important step: Downloading your app.
Let’s explore three of the most important steps for how to name your app.
Knowing what people are searching for will help you come up with a name that’s both meaningful and distinguishable. More apps are discovered through the App Store’s keyword based search engine than any other discovery method.
Your app’s name is the chief form of meta-data that influences its ranking in the App Store search results. To increase the visibility of your app and the traffic driven towards downloading it, I highly recommended including keywords in your title.
App Analytics Provider Tune found that having a keyword in your title improves your app’s search ranking for that keyword by over 10%.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should just stuff every keyword you can conjure up into your app’s name. Although you have a 255 character limit to utilise on the Apple App Store, you shouldn’t name your app ‘Free Pro Weather Tracker *INSERT MORE KEYWORDS* Mobile iPhone App’ for two reasons:
1) Because… Well, you just shouldn’t.
2) Because you should use the app’s name as an opportunity to insert contextually relevant keywords that will translate to more App Store downloads from your target market. A good rule of thumb is to include a maximum of three top target keywords in your app name.
Consider the high-ranking Gumtree Australia App. Its name on the App Store is ‘Gumtree Australia – Free Local Classifieds Ads’. This helps the app to rank second in the search results for each of the following keywords: ‘Australia’, ‘Local’ ‘Classifieds’ and ‘Ads’.
The Gumtree Australia App on the Apple App Store. Source: iTunes
To help find the right keywords for your app, use tools like SearchMan and Sensor Tower. These tools allow you to review what keywords highly downloaded apps in your category are using and find new ones for App Store Optimisation.
Describe the App
An app name that’s as descriptive as possible makes it easier for potential users to find the app.
Research from Appbot Founder Stuart Hall suggests that the most common words featured in top charting apps include ‘Free’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Tracker’. Including illustrative terms and phrases in the first 30 characters of an app’s title will ensure that App Store browsers see them.
If you’re releasing the app on the Android platform, you need to consider how its name will affect search rankings in Google Play. Google only allows for 30 characters in a title, so including descriptive words at the beginning of the app name is crucial for Google Play search optimisation.
One Minute Closer’s title on both app stores features descriptive terms, including ‘FIFO’ and ‘App’. Source: One Minute Closer
Why do you want these words seen by App Store and Google Play browsers? I’m glad you presumably asked!
They convey what people desire when they look for any type of app. Let’s say that a browser knows that an app is the ‘Pro’ version with a ‘Tracker’ function just based on its name. If this is the type of app that the potential user is looking for, they are then eased towards downloading it.
Once downloaded, the beginning of your app’s name will directly influence user retention and engagement. 20% of apps in the market are only opened once, with a subsequent 11% being opened twice before being more than likely deleted from the user’s device. When someone downloads your app, the name should help them remember why they downloaded it and what the app does for them. This will maximise your app’s adoption rate and convert one time users into repeat consumers.
With your keywords and descriptive terms identified, it’s time to put potential app names into action. When evaluating one or two word names, consider the following workshop ideas:
Attempt only two-syllable names.
Constraints are valuable when undertaking the creative process of naming an app. They help to avoid drifting towards irrelevant tangents and, in turn, the wrong name for your app.
Sticking to two syllables is the best constraint I have found. Not only does following this rule generally lead to a great name, but it is also proven to be the most memorable form of word composition for consumers. Brands that have applied this rule with great success include Google, Twitter and Tumblr.
Mix and match words together.
Consider your gathered keywords in terms of 1) their relevance to your app, 2) their memorability compared to similar apps, and 3) their sentimental benefit to users. Select the words that are relatable to each of these values and try putting them together.
A unique compound or portmanteau word can lead to a name that distinguishes your app from others on the App Store. When mixed and matched right, your app name can outline the key function/s of the product, as well as value for end users.
- Snapchat – A compound of words that encompasses the app’s main features of sending photos and videos (Known as ‘Snaps’) and messaging friends (via the ‘Chat with…’ page).
- Instagram – A portmanteau word that represents the app’s value (‘Instant’) and key function (‘Telegram’).
Snapchat and Instagram had completely different project titles while in development. For both of these apps, the right name set the wheel in motion for user adoption, market success and multi-billion dollar offers from Facebook. So have a go at mixing and matching the keywords and descriptions you’ve discovered. And when doing so, consider this: would Snapchat be worth $19 billion today if it was still called Picaboo?
Before naming your app…
An app’s name is highly influential for app store optimisation and engaging potential users with the product. Research it. Describe it. Workshop it.
Along with the product strategy you plan to implement, getting the app name right should be your first step towards a successful launch into the market.
Do you have any tools and tips for naming an app? We’d love to hear about them.