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Naming your app is like naming your baby and can be equally gut-wrenching. You want your name to be unique, but not so unique that no one can pronounce it or spell it. Your name ideally says something about your product’s personality, but also conveys its usefulness. Some apps that balance the two goals well are TravelZoo, BookBub, and Parking Panda; the names allude to the app’s main function, but are memorable and “brand”-able.

If only it were as easy as combining your app’s category with a fun-sounding noun, though. There’s much more to it than that. Here’s a quick rundown of 10 tips to consider when naming your mobile app:

1. Kill your darlings

It’s not a good idea to fall in love with a name right away. Your chosen name might only be meaningful to you and not your potential customers. It might already be trademarked. There might be another app named the exact same thing. When choosing a name, brainstorm lists and more lists of potential names. Use an app name generator like nameboy.com or dotomator.com to get you started. Then, let the cream rise to the top: show some of your names to friends and family, give yourself time to let ideas simmer in your brain, and see if themes begin to emerge that help you narrow the choices down. Optimize mobile app names on PickFu to get outside opinions before you launch.

2. Keep it short

Sure, you’ve got 255 characters on the App Store. But when an app lands on the home screen, you’ve only got 11. Even if your app name runs longer than 11 characters, make sure it can be abbreviated to fit within these parameters.

3. Give context clues

Many apps include the app name as well as some descriptive words. Doing so can help users find your app, as well as improve your app store SEO. There are two apps called Lemonaid and LemonAid, but each added some context to help you understand what the app does.

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4. Find the right App Store optimization keywords

Avoid the temptation to use every keyword you can think of. Instead, create a spreadsheet of apps in your niche, and make a column for each keyword used in their names. Figure out which ASO keywords are relevant, but perhaps not as competitive. Focus your efforts on three of them. Limiting yourself to three will spare you from looking spammy.

5. Avoid the wrong keywords

Excessive use of words like fun, addictive, best, and free can be a red flag not only to users, but to the search engines. Tread carefully.

6. Think beyond the App Store

Remember, you don’t just need to claim your name on the App Store – you’ll also need a URL and social media handles. Make clever use of prefixes and suffixes to help. The game Dots uses weplaydots.com and @playdots on Twitter. Loyalty app Belly lives at bellycard.com and @bellycard. TheNameApp.com is a helpful site to search for what’s available.

7. Imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery

Don’t try to hijack the success of an already popular app. Putting “Angry” in the name of your game won’t endear you to fans. And remember, Google Play has a rule that you can’t start your app name with a name of another app. So, for instance, you couldn’t call your app “Android Media Player,” but you could call it “Media Player for Android.”

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8. No need to shout

It’s tempting to put your name in all caps to stand out. But you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.

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9. Be URL-friendly, #$*#%^)!

Particularly in the App Store, avoid special characters such as *, >, and }. These symbols will cause iTunes to refer to your app’s numeric ID, rather than its name, to scan for relevant keywords in your app store listing.

10. Be global, name local

According to a 2014 study by Distimo, North America generated only 31% of global App Store revenue. If your app audience goes beyond our own borders, consider translating your app title, keywords, and description into the languages of your customers.

For more tips on marketing your mobile app, visit our resources page. If you’re selling on Amazon, learn more about split testing here.  


Also published on Medium.

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Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu is the chief marketing officer at PickFu and the founder of Charles Ave Marketing. She began her career as a copywriter for several leading ad agencies. While working in advertising, she spearheaded award-winning print, radio, TV, outdoor, and guerrilla campaigns for clients including the California Avocado Commission, AAA, The Orange County Register, The Hilton Family of Hotels, Yamaha, Wienerschnitzel, KFC, and Power Automotive, among others. After several years, Kim shifted her specialty into online marketing, helping tech startups improve their online presence through PPC, SEO, email marketing, reputation management, blogging, and social media. Today, she combines her traditional and new media experience to create and strengthen brands like PickFu. Kim and her team help others use PickFu to write better copy, present products in their best light, and position themselves as market leaders.

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3 comments on "10 tips for naming a mobile app"
  1. Kerri @ OneSky
    July 27, 2016 at 11:37 pm /

    Hey Kim, awesome post — really liked how you wrote about staying true to your game and casting a wider net for the audience. Thanks for mentioning us!

    Reply
  2. Testing Mobile App Designs with PickFu - The PickFu Blog
    May 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm /

    […] Naming an app is a crucial step in a successful launch. Not only does it need to be unique, include keywords, and make clear what your app does, but it also needs to entice users. See how game maker Mike Cowden decided on his app’s name, Super 80s World. […]

    Reply
  3. How to Effectively Cross-Promote Apps - The PickFu BlogThe PickFu Blog
    October 30, 2017 at 7:02 am /

    […] If you need more ideas, read our 10 tips on naming your mobile app. […]

    Reply

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