Apt app names - process
I'm a big fan of the dictionary
This post addresses the question of how to come up with a good name for an app. My previous Apt app names - criteria blog suggested how to determine if a potential name is, indeed, good or not. To undertake the naming process, all you’ll need is a computer with access to Google.
As detailed below, the process I use for choosing app names is split into three stages: 1. Requirements, 2. Brainstorming, and 3. Selection. Documenting these stages is important, particularly when working with others.
The first section of your naming document should define the context, set the scope and list some seed words to consider in the brainstorming stage.
The following should be covered:
App purpose and target audience: What problem is the app addressing and who are the intended users?
Brand experience and personality: How do you want people to feel when they see or hear the name, e.g. excited, relieved, intrigued? If the name was a person, what adjectives would you use to describe it, e.g. fun, modern, lighthearted?
Use of the name: In addition to appearing below the app icon, how else will the name be used, e.g. on social media and on T-Shirts? Illustrate how the name might appear in a sentence.
Competition: Which competitor names do you like (and dislike) and why?
Seed words to explore: List 10 or more words associated with your app or brand experience. Here are some of the seed words I used for my Nip To app: bin, map, amenity, walk and found.
Themes to explore, e.g. for Nip To, quickly find a nearby utility.
Domain name modifiers to consider - see below.
Name style likes (and dislikes): TikTok (clever and short), Video Game Radio (tame.)
If working with others then you should generate ideas individually then come together to share and discuss. For your solo brainstorming, find a place and time where you feel able to focus and be most creative. Have the good names criteria and naming project document to hand and write every idea you have down.
Kick off with the 10 or so seed words given in the requirements section; add new ones as they occur to you. Taking each word in turn, use them as the search term or subject in the various resources listed below and in the other resources section:
Thesaurus. Enter seed word then review the synonyms and antonyms.
Dictionary and Urban dictionary. The Twitter name came from a sequential search through a dictionary.
Google images. Photos and pictures can be powerful triggers for ideas.
Book, song and film titles plus TV program names.
Glossary of terms related to, e.g. sports, hobbies, animals and food. Many activities have their own jargon. Do a Google search, e.g. “Windsurfing lingo” to reveal them.
Once you have taken all the seed words through the brainstorming process outlined, possibly taking a number of weeks, you should pool name ideas with any others on the project. After filtering out any that do not meet the Apt app names - criteria you should ideally have over 30 left, any of which you would be happy to use.
The next step is to go through each name on the list and check whether you have the legal right to use them. I am not an expert in this field, but offer some general advice.
The steps I suggest are:
Google search on the name, to see to what extent it is used and by whom.
Trademark search relating to the geographies you want to operate in. Here are two search options for UK and US.
For the greatest level of certainty, employ the services of a legal trademark specialist.
After this, there will be a shortlist of names you can use and, optionally, register as a trademark. Scarper (a game) and Aim For (personal effectiveness) are trademarks I have registered, and Nip To (public utilities finder) is nearly there.
If you are developing an app to include US users, you should have a .com domain name. Paul Graham explains the reasons for this in his essay Change Your Name. Other possible options include .net, .org and .co. It is highly likely that YourAppName.com has been registered by someone else and that’s where domain name modifiers come in, e.g. Get__.com, The__.com and __App.com. Here are 120 domain name modifiers to consider. For my game Scarper, I use the domain name www.PlayScarper.com which tells the user it’s a game and is a call to action.
Hello, My Name Is Awesome book by Alexandra Watkins
Brand New Name book by Jeremy Miller
How to name an app blog by ThinkLoins
If you’d like a more comprehensive list of URLs to aid your name brainstorming then let me know by leaving a comment.
In next Sunday’s post I’ll offer my views on what skills I think are required to develop mobile apps.
Until next Sunday, keep the dictionary to hand.