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App Naming Tips

lefebvre profile image Paul Lefebvre ・4 min read

Naming your app may seem like the last step and the easiest part of the process, but it actually should involve some careful thought and consideration. A name needs to set the right tone for your app, should relate to it in some way, and should be searchable, meaning something that can be found easily in search engines. For example, you don’t want to name your app TravelTips – there are thousands of google searches that will come up before your app. You want a name you can own.

When we changed our name from Real Studio to Xojo, we wanted to make sure we could find a name that we could own. Not only was Xojo a pretty wide open space in terms of search, but it also stands for something that describes what Xojo is – X is for Cross-platform and “OJO” is for Object-Oriented.

Be Your Own App Name Generator

It’s never too early to start the process. Your name might morph or change several times during the process, so the more time you have to think about it, the better. All you need is pencil & paper (or a notes app) and some time to start brainstorming. Start your list by answering the following questions.

  1. What is the main purpose of your app?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. What’s the value proposition?

Write down every word that comes to mind. When you’re done, you have a great bank of words to brainstorm with.

First Impressions Really Do Matter

They say don’t judge a book by the cover, but … we do. We are more attracted to things that catch our eye. The name of your app and the icon are the first interaction a prospect user has with your app, it’s sort of like its book cover, it’s what makes people stop and think, “Oooh this is nice… Is this app right for me?”

While reviewing your list of words, start thinking about images and emotions that will resonate with your audience. Conduct some research to find descriptive words and imagery that correlate to your app, ask your friends, get input from potential users.

Pro tip: Make sure you research the meanings and different connotations of your words to make sure they make sense for your intended audience. Avoid words that evoke negative emotions.

Make It Recognizable

Try to find a name that might reveal the literal purpose of your app. In general, when a user can understand the point of your app just by the icon and name, they’re more successful. Names like Evernote and GrubHub are good examples of this. They are short and catchy, but also describe exactly what the app is or does. If your app can’t really be summarized, make sure the icon clearly and visually describes its purpose so they work together to catch the prospective user. Instagram is a good example of this – the name does not necessarily describe what it does, but coupled with it’s camera icon, it conveys the purpose of the app, that it has something to do with photos. App stores also give preference to names that are not totally arbitrary and appropriately describe the apps purpose.

Pro tip: If you are trying to put two words together that need to be pronounced separately (example – Instagram vs. GrubHub), it is recommended to use camel case, rather than all caps.

Though you do want to use words that describe your app, make sure you aren’t keyword stuffing. Picking applicable, even high traffic keywords, to go in your title is a good thing, but too many or too much repetition actually detracts from your preference and ranking. Google Keyword Planner is a great free tool to start your keyword search.

Its common for consumers to download an app just because it sounds interesting or fun, so try to find a name and design to make your app stand out.

Do Market Research

Don’t forget to check out your competition. See what others are doing, without duplicating their name or icon, of course. Identify what emotions their name and icon emote, are the words you use to describe them the same as what is on your list? Is there something you missed that you might want to add? Maybe you might see something that really works you want to try to incorporate into yours, maybe you’ll see some things that really don’t work, like a specific icon, word or color palette. But, make sure to differentiate your app from the rest. Your app could be outright rejected from an App Store if the name is too similar to other apps that are already there.

Pro tip: Make sure the name you choose is not trademarked by anyone else.

Other Considerations

In searching for your name, take a look to see if you can also get a reasonable domain and and social media account. If the name of your app is not available as a domain, don’t discount it, there are variations you can consider for your name (like GoXojo.com).

There’s a lot of thought that goes into picking the best name for your app. These strategies only just scratch the surface. The ideal name sets the right tone, clarifies the purpose, and makes it easy to rank and market your app.

Good luck with your name-storming!

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