What’s in a Name? For Games – a Lot!
As app stores rapidly approach the million app mark, one of the most important things that game developers & publishers can do to help their games succeed is something that seems simple, but has an enormous impact – choosing the right name.
As people quickly scan through the app store trying to decide which games to download, the first impression that they get is limited to the app’s name, the icon, and the customer ratings of the game. You can’t control the customer reviews, but along with a catchy icon, a memorable name is often a powerful marketing tool to help your app “stick” in the minds of users and prospective users – and it is entirely up to you.
Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a name for your next app:
- Select words with a rhythmic feel: For example, “Coco Loco” (an actual app) is memorable because it rhymes. “Instagram” is easy to remember and sounds vaguely reminiscent of photography (which is appropriate). “Pandora” and “Spotify” have a simple rhythm and symmetry that is appropriate for music-focused apps. They’re also easy to spell, which makes it easier for people to remember the name of the app when they see their friends mention it on Facebook or Twitter, and then decide to go to the app marketplace later on and find the apps for themselves.
- Create a name that creates a visual association: “Angry Birds” is a great name for an app because it sparks curiosity – it makes you want to buy it just to see what the birds are so upset about. “Fruit Ninja” is another popular game where people of all ages can have fun slicing fruit with a kitana sword – and the combination of an everyday element and a more “exotic” element (how often do you hear of “ninjas” in connection with “fruit?”) makes this app name successful. “Fruit Chopper,” “Fruit Slicer” or even “Fruit Assassin” would not have been as powerful as “Fruit Ninja.”
- Keep it simple: “Tap the Frog” is a game where you have to tap frogs in different mini-games. It has been played by over 10 million people. “Draw Something” and “Words With Friends” have been two of the most popular games shared on Facebook, and their names are simple, direct and descriptive. With a good name consumers should believe that: “what you see is what you get.”
- Say what it does: Most games can have slightly more “creative” names, but shouldn’t stray too far from the above. If you happen to have a more functional app that is serving a clearly-defined purpose (other than entertainment), you should make sure that your app name clearly answers the question of “what does the app do?” This is better than trying to come up with something clever since a lot of your traffic will come from searches. People will likely find your app because they’re trying to solve a specific problem or get an app that can do something specific for them. Your job in naming your app is to show them that your app is the right choice to solve their problem. For example, the app “RunKeeper” is used by runners to track their running times and save their favorite running routes. “TweetBot” is an app that people can use to automate their Twitter activity. Try to think of ways that you can concisely give your users a clear idea of what your app does, just by reading the name.
One last tip: Before you publish your game or app, make sure that the name is unique and is not infringing on any trademarks. Do multiple Google searches, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office database, and check the app store to be sure that your name is free and clear.
What’s your take on this? What is your personal favorite app name (for one of your apps, or another company’s)? What thought process do you use when brainstorming new app names?