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The Top Mobile App Name Optimization Techniques

Read Time: 4 minutes

Now that the excitement of your company’s mobile app launch has worn off, you’ve started focusing on install stats. Feeling underwhelmed by the results, you queried some key search phrases and discovered your app isn’t showing prominently for those terms. Now you’re wondering, “Did I pick the wrong app name?”

It’s a fair question since your mobile app’s name has a major impact on its in-store visibility and overall success. Standing out in the app stores is challenging, as your application is just one of millions. To be precise, 2.2 million in the Apple App Store and 2.8 million Android apps in the Google Play store, as of the first quarter of 2017. Consumers have hundreds or even thousands of choices, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd.

As such, you’re tasked with finding a name that’s both memorable and descriptive. After all, choosing the proper app name is a critical element in the recipe for success and will largely determine how effectively you connect with your target audience. Without a brandable name, you risk an app that falls short of its true potential.

Tips for App Name Optimization

Optimizing your app name can be tricky, but there are a number of effective techniques to maximize visibility, improve user experience (UX) and increase your install rate:

  • Is the name short and sweet?
    The general rule for brand names is to keep it under 11 characters. Anything longer is more challenging to read and remember and thus, less brandable. With mobile apps, people are looking at a small screen, so you want to ensure the name is easy to read at a glance. A shorter name also improves UX since people won’t need to enter a long, convoluted phrase to search for your app.
  • Is the app’s purpose obvious from the name?
    The name alone should provide people with a general understanding of the type of app—even if you opt for a unique brand name. For instance, “Twitter” is a wonderful example of an abstract brand name that effectively conveys information about the app type/genre. Remember your first encounter with Twitter? Chances are, the name made you think of words such as “tweet” or “chatter,” thus hinting at the nature of the application. Ideally, you should use a term that would be included in search queries for your app’s niche. For example, you might have a social media app named “Chatter,” and for the launch, you might call it “Chatter Social.” Then, once the brand gains momentum and branded queries account for a majority of app store searches, you can drop the word “social.”
  • Does your app name have an atypical spelling?
    A name with an atypical spelling can be difficult to remember and pronounce, possibly negatively impacting app store stats and analytics. That’s because your app will fail to register as an exact match for what may otherwise be a relevant term users are searching for. Let’s say you have a scheduling app and in the title, you use the word “Skedül” instead of “Schedule.” This atypical word now provides no benefit as a search term unless your app gains sufficient brand recognition that people start searching for “Skedül.” What’s more, the usage of the character “ü” could cause problems. Many users may not notice this unique character and those who do may not know how to type it. The app stores’ algorithms may not equate “ü” and “u,” resulting in an app that ranks lower than it should, even for branded search queries. Also, avoid unnecessary capitalization. All caps are harder to read at a glance and the “look over here” nature of all caps can come off as desperate and amateur.
  • Is your app name memorable?
    Memorability is essential. Perhaps you read about a new mileage tracking app or a friend mentioned a must-have screencast app. If you don’t have your device handy, you must recall the app name for a period of time and may have forgotten it once you do have your phone. In short, your mobile app’s name must be distinctive. This means avoiding the extremes of overly general/vague or highly creative and abstract.
  • Is there a competitor with a similar name?
    Great minds think alike and this is often true with app names. But, this can be a major problem when trying to develop a distinct brand identity. Many are tempted to choose a name similar to a competitor’s name, hoping to ride their coattails. This approach can backfire, however. Firstly, you risk being viewed as a “knockoff” and people rarely perceive the imitator as better than the original—even if your app truly is better! Secondly, you risk getting painted with the same brush as your competitor, largely due to brand confusion. If your competitor has a major security breach, users may uninstall and avoid your app because they thought your app was faulty, when in fact, it was your competitor. Lean toward innovation instead of imitation.

Research Prospective App Names

Before you settle on the perfect mobile app name, research to see if anyone else is using that name. Focus on the following areas:

  • Is the name a registered trademark?
    If so, it’s likely that the trademark holder’s attorney will send a letter ordering you to “cease and desist” using the app name. This will necessitate a rebranding effort.
  • Is the corresponding domain name available?
    Domain names matter, as your website will likely be an essential component of your marketing strategy. Ideally, an exact match domain name should be available (e.g. Twitter.com). If this isn’t possible, consider adding the term “app” after the brand name (e.g. “TwitterApp.com).
  • Is the corresponding name available on major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook?
    If not, can these accounts be acquired? There are many abandoned accounts on social media with owners who are willing to sell or even give away their stagnant accounts.

All these issues should be thoroughly addressed before settling on an app name. Also, work with your mobile developer to integrate consistent branded elements throughout the user interface (UI) to create a more memorable UX. UI and UX are two integral components of an effective branding strategy. Your UI must be cohesive and distinctive, without compromising user-friendliness.

The overall look and quality of the UI will be largely determined by your choice in mobile app development company. Dallas, Houston and Austin-based developers with 7T work with clients throughout the nation to develop B2B and B2C apps that capture the functionalities and brand identity you’ve envisioned. Contact us today to learn more about the app development process.


Lacey Williams-McGhee

Lacey Williams-McGhee

Lacey Williams is a marketing professional and Harvard graduate student living in the great state of Texas. When she's not working at 7T's headquarters, she can be found on the next flight to the Bahamas, hanging out with her husband and fluffy golden retriever, or studying! Lacey earned a B.A. in journalism from Baylor University. Sic 'em!


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