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Tips for Developing Fabulous App Name Ideas

Read Time: 4 minutes

What’s in a mobile app name? Well, your app’s name will have a major impact on how users perceive your brand. Imagine if Twitter had been dubbed “ChatWorld.” The entire brand image would be different and, arguably, less appealing.

While dreaming up the perfect app name is essential for consumer-facing B2C apps, even B2B and enterprise apps need a memorable, well-thought-out name. Many companies are hesitant to outsource the app naming process to a branding/marketing firm, as they wish to maintain control over the process, and understandably so! So what strategy should you use to generate mobile app name ideas in-house?

Before you get started, it’s vital to understand that you’re building more than just an app; you’re building a brand. A brand encompasses many elements, including the application’s user interface (UI), the logo design, the color scheme, the app’s website, the overarching style aesthetic, the app’s general “personality” and the ever-important app name.

The First Phase: Brainstorming and Free Association

The best app names, and brand names as a whole, tend to arise spontaneously, often as the result of a collective brainstorm. But where do you begin?

Start the process by gathering a group of volunteers. These individuals don’t need any knowledge of branding, marketing or business. Ideally, though, this group’s demographics should be similar to those of your target audience. If there’s a major generational or cultural gap, you could end up with name ideas that just won’t resonate with your average user.

It’s critical that everyone understands the purpose of the app—including how it will be used and who will be using it (have NDA’s signed if necessary). Then, you can initiate the brainstorming process. Write down any and all words, sounds or concepts that come to mind when thinking about this type of app, its functions or its users. Ideally, one person records all the suggestions while the volunteers shout out whatever ideas come to mind. These words will serve as the basis of your application’s name.

The Second Phase: Generating App Name Ideas

In the second phase, you can remain in a large group or opt to involve only company leaders. There are several ways to generate great app name ideas using the fruits of your brainstorming session:

  • Combine words in full or in part (e.g., “HootSuite,” “LinkedIn” or “SnapChat”)
  • Create a new word from a term that’s strongly related to your app concept (e.g., “Twitter,” “Flixster” or “Reddit”)
  • Create an entirely new word with little or no basis in an existing word or concept (e.g., “Skype,” “Xing” or “Tumblr”)

The only problem with the latter approach surrounds memorability, as you could create an abstract name that’s just too hard to remember. This may occur because people lack an existing mental schema for that unfamiliar term.

Typically, when you hear a catchy name, it elicits a mental schema—a compilation of ideas, impressions, mental pictures, associations and/or memories. It’s this default cognition that makes certain names so memorable. You rely on those elements until you form a new, brand-specific mental schema for the name, typically after you encounter branded products, view advertisements, watch a commercial or try the app. Your brand identity will mold this more specific mental schema—but you won’t get that far if the individual can’t recall the app name long enough to install it! For this reason, it’s best to choose app names with an element of inherent (albeit vague) familiarity.

Of course, it’s not impossible to add a new brand name to the public lexicon, as evidenced by the likes of Hulu, Xerox, Google and eBay. But, it takes a massive marketing campaign to propel a highly abstract brand name into the public consciousness, which typically requires a fair amount of time and money.

The Third Phase: Creating a Short List

The third phase of the app naming process entails compiling a shortlist of possibilities. Ideally, at this point, you should involve someone with marketing expertise. It’s important to understand how each choice could impact your company identity and your business as a whole.

It may be helpful to narrow it down to three or four names, which can then be sent out for logo design. Many find it helpful to actually see the logo, as this gives you a feel for your options in terms of the app’s overall personality and flavor.

Together, with help from marketing and branding professionals, you can pick a brandable and memorable app name that sets you up for success.

Tips for Choosing an Optimized App Name

Consider the following tips as you work toward the ideal nameone that’s well-optimized for the app stores:

  • Choose an App Name That’s Easy to Remember: Many would assume memorability is a given, but you’d be surprised how frequently this point is overlooked. Let’s say a friend tells you about a new app that learns your route to and from work and records your mileage automatically. That’s precisely what you need to record your mileage for tax deduction purposes. You forgot to jot the name down, and by the time you get home, you can’t remember it. Of course, it’s impossible to download an app if you can’t recall the name and not everyone will go out of their way to find it. For this reason, it’s wise to pick a memorable name.
  • Focus on App Names That Are Brandable: Could you build an entire brand around the app name you’re considering? Brandability is important, even for B2B apps and enterprise apps, as this technology can become an integral part of your company. You want to ensure the name conveys the right brand identity.
  • Select a Mobile App Name That’s Apparent: It’s critical that your app name is apparent. Avoid atypical spellings or names that are exceedingly vague (and thus, fail to convey insight on the app’s purpose or usage). A name that’s suggestive of the app genre is ideal both in terms of brandability and memorability.

Of course, a highly marketable brand and clever app name don’t matter if your app is poorly developed and maintained. Therefore, it’s essential that you trust your project to a group of experienced mobile app developers, like the team at 7T. With our headquarters in Dallas and regional offices in Houston and Austin, we serve clients across the Texas Triangle and throughout the United States. We know precisely what it takes to build an engaging, dynamic and useful interface. Contact us today to discuss your mobile app development needs.  


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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