5 Principles of App Naming

With a proliferation of mobile apps on the market, a good name can make a difference. And while a weak name won’t necessarily spell disaster for a well-conceived product, a great name makes the all-important first impression. A few solid principles towards creating great app names can help.

1. Stand out

No one wants a knockoff. Your app is part of your brand, and naming is essential to establishing that brand. While an awareness of trending is important, the world doesn’t need another Insta-name. Conforming too closely to trends can sound phony. Gains in recognition, could chance losing authenticity.

So, how to break the mold? Use words in unexpected ways. Think metaphorically. Play with common phrases.

2. Keep it short

Short is sweet. Simplicity commands attention. 1-3 syllable names are generally best and easy to remember. Names that extend beyond 11 characters limit on mobile operating systems may truncate into an unfortunate ellipsis.

Testing the character count will ensure a professional presentation when your app makes its debut. And, if your name can’t convey it all, let a well-developed tagline finish the job. Think Evernote, whose tagline “Remember Everything” expanded along with the product to “Your Life’s Work.”

3. Know your audience

This is not just sound advice for actors. If your application serves a particular function, leverage search terms and create a descriptive name to help users recognize and associate with your product.

Knowing what people are searching for and carefully choosing adjectives to create a name with relevance can help evoke an experience and sell your product.

4. Make it memorable

Consider how your name rolls off the tongue. While creative license and wordplay are invaluable during name generation, clarity and recognition are the key components of memorable names.

Ultimately, the best names are easy to spell (search) and pronounce (spread by word-of-mouth). If your application name does not inherently imply its function, then it should be creative enough to override the need for association. While Shazam doesn’t immediately elicit a “music identification service,” the name creates an abracadabra-like ability.

5. Do your homework

Whether working with professionals or taking an in-house approach, the best way to prevent a frustrating trip back to the drawing board–especially in light of the reporting tool Apple has provided to alert developers of potential copyright or trademark infringement – is to check availability.

You should research every last permutation of your name, not only researching the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), but also the App Store, social media, and the Internet in general. Better, hire a trademark screening specialist. If you do infringe on another trademark, you may be asked to change your name or be removed from the store.

In an ever-expanding marketplace, a name can be the first impression that sets your app apart. Invest the time it takes to make it a good one.

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