Mehul Rajput April 10th, 2019

What’s in a Name? How to Name Your App Startup?

One of the most interesting stories about a startup name is how Steve Jobs decided to name his startup.

“Apple” has very little to do with what the company does. However, if Jobs were to name his company in 2019, he would’ve gone for something more relevant.

Naming conventions change with time. Today, startups must be very particular about their app or brand name. Not only does it have to be catchy and interesting, but it also needs to be SEO friendly. But that isn’t the only factor that counts.

Naming your app startup is nothing short of a science. There are certain rules to follow. There are certain limitations as well. Today, we will break it down to help you systematically manage the process of choosing a name that sticks.

Start with the Purpose

So, let’s get back to one of the most important aspects we have discussed – relevance. And by relevance, I mean how accurately it defines the purpose or features of your app. There are literally hundreds of apps that share the same features and users are most likely to tap on one that sounds most relevant.

Now, the same rule applies to your startup name. Your startup name also needs to be relevant to the app’s features and its name.

Imagine looking for an app for budgeting or any other finance-related task. Would you click on an app that has a relevant name but is created by a company called xyz Fashion Store? Both the startup and app names should clearly define the purpose so that users can put their trust in your hands.

To get a better idea, look at all the utility apps you have on your phone now and see how the name related to their function.

Play with Words

Nothing catches attention like some funny wordplay. It is smart, yet understandable. A great example of how startups play with words when naming their apps is “Waze.” The app literally helps people find numerous ways to reach a place. In simpler words, it is a map app. Also, Pinterest is a fine example of play on words for an app.

Wordplay isn’t as easy as it sounds, but if you have a knack for puns, you will do great. Puns are funny, and they can really make your startup name catch on. Some of my favorite puny brand names include “Wooden-it-be-nice” furniture store and the classic “Tequila Mockingbird” bar. These are all retail businesses, but worthy of mention.

Another way to make use of wordplay is to use rhyming words to stick them together like WerdNerd, SnapChat, and FitBit. To get more ideas on how to use wordplay, check out this awesome guide on how to come up with good business names.

Keep Things Short

Google, Tinder, Apple, Skype – what do they have in common. Their name is short and memorable. Unlike retail stores that can do with longer names, app startups must deal with a target audience with a shorter attention span. You don’t just need to grab attention, you need to snatch it away from the long line up of competitors showing right next to your app on the store.

A golden rule here is to keep it within eight characters with two to three syllables. Now, can you think of an app that defies that rule? Probably not.

However, short doesn’t always mean simple. Some short names are more complicated to pronounce. A friend once complained about how she faces trouble saying B614. Despite being short, the name can be tough on some people’s tongue. And you don’t have to hire a linguist to tell you that. Ask just as many people as you can to say the name, and you will know if there is a problem.

Make it SEO Friendly

Like we said earlier, relevance is the key. And it is not limited to how people see the relevance. Search engines should also be able to see it.

Both Google and Apple might have gone with a more SEO friendly name if they were to name their apps in 2019. It would have been a more tech-friendly name that shows they are IT firms.

It is an important factor because around 63 percent of the traffic on app stores is generated by search. When people search for an app for a purpose, they use keywords such as a calculator or puzzle games. It helps to have your keyword in your name.

There are hundreds of examples of apps that make great use of their strongest, most relevant keywords. LiveAuction is one of them. People will literally type “live auction” in the search bar to find live auction platforms.

While we are talking about searchability, let’s not overlook the idea of piggybacking on most searched terms. In 2016, a gaming app company decided to make the most out of Trump’s presidential campaign with an app called “The Great Wall of Trump.”  While it is a simple brick game, the app showed in numerous searches for Trump or his idea of the great wall.


Never heard of verbability?  Well, I just created a new word.

Some words have the power to become a verb. Google is the biggest example in this case. People now tell each other to go “Google it” whenever they mean to say search it online. In all honesty, it is because it is easier on the tongue and it is an action verb. If Google had a name like “YourSearchBar,” things would’ve been different.

So, it is always a good idea to think of action verbs that can catch on as a trend. Think of how the name can be used in everyday language. If it can replace the action it does, it is verbable. It doesn’t even have to be a verb that already exists. It just must sound like it should.

Watch Your Competitors

There is nothing wrong in taking a hint from your competitors. Look for apps that appear on the top for your strongest keywords and see how they name their app and their startup. Take notes.

However, that doesn’t mean you should come up with a name so similar that it almost sounds like a rip-off. You want your startup and app to stand out rather than seem like a copycat brand. It is just like all those “angry-xyz” apps that were launched after Angry Birds. No one really liked them.

Use your own creativity to come up with an even better name. Keep your USPs in mind. Even if there is just one feature that sets you apart, use it to your advantage.

Running a little competitor search is also helpful in avoiding conflicts. Sometimes startups think they have come up with an amazing name, they create an entire app and branding campaign based on that name, only to be hit by a lawsuit by a company that is already using that name.

Bonus: Here you can find a list of tools, resources, sites, and blogs we believe can really help with your startup. Startups Hub


Now that you know the dos and don’ts of naming your app startup, take your time and think of more than one options. Take opinions from other team members and even people in your circle who fit the description of your target audience. Once you have a name that checks all the boxes and has a general likeability factor, make it official.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Mehul Rajput

Mehul Rajput is a CEO and co-founder of Mindinventory, a software development company that provide web and mobile app solutions from startup to enterprise level company. His role involves heading the operations related to business and delivery with strategic planning and defining road-map for the future. He's an avid blogger and writes on web and mobile technologies, startup and business.

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