Brainstorming app names can be a lot of fun, but it can also be frustrating because there are so many different things to consider. This post will help you avoid common mistakes that most developers make when naming an app. Even some huge companies make these mistakes, so be sure not to overlook them.
Before we get started, we just want to clarify two places where your app name gets displayed and how each place can influence the name you give your app.
The App Name field, which is one of the first fields that you fill out when you add a new app, is one of them. This is the name that will show up on the App Store.
The other place that you will enter your app name is in the Bundle Display Name field. This is the text that shows up under your app icon on an iPhone or iPad.
Both of these fields have different attributes, so you should be aware of them before naming your app. Now that you are aware of the difference, let's get into the mistakes that are commonly made in the naming process.
There is a 50 character limit for the App Name field in iTunes Connect that you should use as an opportunity to insert a few carefully chosen, and contextual keywords. This is one of the most important and overlooked ways to get more downloads.
Take the time to do your research and figure out what people are searching for and what keywords highly downloaded apps in your niche are using. If possible, also figure out keywords that are searched for but not used often, and include them in your keyword list.
Let’s use the Waze app as an example. Their App Name is: "Waze Navigation & Live Traffic". The screenshot below shows how they rank for the keywords in their name. Notice how they are in the top 5 for several keywords, including “Navigation”, which has pretty good traffic.
The Bundle Display Name is too short to add a significant number of keywords, but if you can fit one keyword into your app name that is a highly searched term, then all the better. If not, just focus on creating a name that is in line with your brand or app function and focus on putting keywords into the App Name.
Two strategies for naming an app might be: to make it similar to an already successful app, so you can ride their coattails, or to use a common phrase. But does the world really need another Insta____ app or Zombie game? Will you stand out if you have a similar name as eight other apps out there?
Probably not. Do your own thing and take the time to create a unique name. Here is an example of five apps that use "truth or dare" in their name.
Even if you have the best "truth or dare app in the world, people might not know which one to choose, since there are so many available, with very similar names. They may just pick one at random, only look at the rating, or download one of them because they like the icon. Having a distinctive name will allow you to rise above the crowd.
Be sure to check trademarks before going forward with naming your new app. This might seem like an obvious thing, but when you want to get your app noticed quickly, calling it "iPhoneNoteTaker" might sound like a good idea. Consider carefully and do your research, so you don't get sued.
Finally, using a hard to spell name or taking out all the vowels from a name might seem cool, but it will make your app that much harder to find. It is a good way to create a brandable name, but it can make it hard for people to remember, search for and tell their friends about. Try to find the balance.
This goes for both your App Name and Bundle Display Name. Since your Bundle Display Name is so short, you should want to create an app name that will quickly give people an idea of what your app does, like Notability.
The App Name field is where you can get more descriptive. After you have researched your keywords, be sure to craft a concise description of the benefit of your app. This is especially true if the Bundle Display Name might not make it obvious what your app does.
While we are on the topic, be sure that your App Name and Bundle Display Name have continuity. When someone decides to download your app after seeing your description on the App Store, they should be able to remember why they downloaded your app, when they see the icon on their iPhone or iPad. If they do not remember what your app is for, they probably won't use it and will likely delete it.
Since a website and social media will probably be a big part of your marketing efforts, you should take into consideration the availability of the corresponding domain name and social media accounts for your app. Secure these assets before you decide to move forward with an app name.
To quickly figure out how which social media accounts are available for your name, you can use a site like KnowEm, which will automatically check your prospective app name across all the popular social media networks. If it is difficult to get the domain and social media names you want, consider adding "app" to the end of the name you want. Make them all the same to keep the branding consistent.
As we mentioned before, there is a 50 character limit for your App Name. However, only about 25 of those characters show up in search. Therefore, you should concentrate on putting your most descriptive words at the beginning of your name. Notice that the Super Hero app name tells someone, in the first 25 characters, that it is an app with super heroes and the type of game it is.
When it comes to your Bundle Display Name, you should keep it to 11 characters or less. You may be able to get away with a couple more characters, depending on which characters you use and capitalization, but be sure to test it first, if you are not sure. If you make it too long, the ellipsis will show up, and that just looks bad.
We hope that this post will help you to avoid these common mistakes and allow you get more downloads. With the increasing number apps being uploaded to the App Store, it becomes even more important to differentiate yourself, communicate what your app does, and make sure that you show up in search. If you're looking at App Annie competitors, be sure to read more about our platforms.
Is there something you would like to add? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content
Date: July 2013