How to name software: The ultimate guide to software product naming
Figuring out how to name software solutions and apps can be one of the most challenging processes for technology company. While naming any offering is complex, software product naming is often deemed particularly difficult.
After all, it’s often difficult to refine the various features of a software solution into a single word or phrase.
To make matters worse, the software landscape is growing at an accelerated pace. By the end of 2030, this landscape is expected to be worth more than 1,153.7 billion, with more players entering the space all the time.
In a digital world, we’re seeing more apps and tools emerging than ever before. Even if you come up with an amazing name, there’s no guarantee it won’t already be taken.
If you’re struggling with the concept of naming software applications, don’t panic. We’re going to look at some of the top tips you should be keeping in mind on your title creation journey.
How to name a software product: An introduction
Software companies are driven by innovation. Often, they introduce new solutions to the market on a regular basis, intended to address the unique needs and problems of everyday people.
Just look at companies like Salesforce, with its powerful sales and CRM management tools, or Zoho Desk, designed to manage service desks.
While complex, software application naming is an important part of your overall branding strategy. Just like choosing a name for your company, the moniker you choose for your product name will determine whether its memorable, engaging, and capable of converting your target audience.
Your software name could even become more iconic than your company’s name itself. Just look at how many people still refer to Google’s selection of productivity tools as “G-Suite”, even after the company chose to update its branding.
An appropriate name will help you to reach a bigger audience across everything from app stores to Google Search. Plus, it gives your audience an insight into what to expect from your service.
For instance, “Asana”, the name given to a project management tool, is also a name for a posture of yoga, highlighting the flexibility of the app, and its ability to assist with “balance” in the workplace.
Naming software: Are descriptive names best?
As any growing company will know, there are multiple ways to name a product, just as there are various methods you can use to name your brand.
For the most part, software companies tend to focus on more descriptive titles for their name. This is usually because they’re appealing to a digital audience searching for solutions with keywords online.
If your customers are looking for keywords for their SEO strategy, they’re more likely to search for terms like “keyword finder”, which would lead them to the “KWFinder” app.
At the same time, it’s worth remembering a software name needs to be able to convey the benefits of your solution to your audience straight away.
When figuring out how to name a software solution, start by writing down a selection of keywords and phrases your target audience is likely to use when looking for a solution to their problem.
Making a list of core features
What does your application offer or do? For instance, if you’re creating a “note taking app”, then the word “note” is likely to be something your audience is looking for.
Hence names like Evernote or Google Notes.
Highlight the app purpose or mission
Consider your brand’s mission with this new software solution. What are you trying to accomplish?
Charity Miles, for example, is an app which allows you to donate to charity projects by tracking your miles walked. “Calm” is a meditation app created to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Consider emotional context
Apps can have an emotional impact on their audience. For instance, “MyFitnessPal” wants to become a “friend” to its users and make the concept of staying fit feel more accessible.
Keep in mind, while using descriptive names is helpful, it’s important not to rely on a descriptor word alone for your name. When you search “note” in Google, you get more than 14 billion results.
Evernote, on the other hand, takes you straight to the Evernote app.
Adding something extra to your name, whether it’s a reference to your vision, and emotional concept, or just something to add context to your app’s title, can make it more searchable and memorable.
Naming software applications: Playing with words
Since the majority of the core words you might use to describe your app are likely to be taken, you’ll need to get a little creative with your options. A lot of the best naming projects start with a little brainstorming.
If an obvious keyword-based name is too simple, or doesn’t allow you to copyright your brand identity, play some word games.
Bring your team members and shareholders together to help you with this part of your project, as input from multiple perspectives can give you a wider range of options.
You can look at:
If you’re in a particularly cluttered software space, like the collaboration app market, you might find a lot of obvious keywords and their combinations have already been collected by competitors.
Fortunately, there are thousands of similar words out there. You can consider using a thesaurus to explore some synonyms. Alternatively, provided you’re willing to do your due diligence, you could also use words from other languages.
Amplifiers are words which help to highlight the values of your company and other valuable information alongside what it does. Emotional or engaging terms can add more depth to your company’s name while simultaneously making it more memorable.
For instance, a financial app could add the word “secure” or “safe”. A collaborative software app name might use the word “team” or “collab”.
Browse through some of the most popular app names in history and you’ll find a wide range of portmanteaus. These terms essentially involve combining two terms together.
You might, for example, take the beginning of one word and merge it with the end of another. Instagram comes from the words ‘instant’ and ‘telegram’, while Pinterest stands for both “pin” and “interest”.
Don’t be afraid to misspell
Most of the time, when you’re naming a business or product, misspelling a moniker isn’t a good idea. However, for a software naming project, you do have a little more freedom.
As an example, “Netflix” comes from the words “net” and “flicks”. Changing the end of the word “flicks” to feature an “X” makes the name seem a little more modern, and it’s ideal for making the title more unique.
As mentioned above, you can also explore alternative languages as a way to bring your name to life. It’s not unusual for businesses to tap into Latin and other languages to make their software names more appealing.
Look at the Alibaba Group – the name comes from an Arabic fairytale character.
The key to success when using other languages in your company’s name is making sure you’re cautious, and informed. Working with other people who are native to the country where you’re borrowing your language from can be a good idea.
This can help you to determine whether the word has any underlying meanings or colloquial connections you’re not aware of.
Quick tips for naming software
For many startups and technology business leaders, figuring out how to name software can feel like a completely different process to naming any other product. However, while there are some differences to consider, like the ability to use misspellings, it’s important to remember the basics.
When naming any product, simplicity is key. The simpler and more convenient your name is to say and spell, the more likely you are to gain traction in your industry. It’s much easier for people to spread information about a product if they know how to pronounce its name.
Shorter names are also a lot easier to remember than long, or complex titles. Google “Play”, the app market for the Android operating system, uses a very basic, concise name to keep things simple.
Speaking of app markets, the majority will only allow you to display so many characters on a mobile screen when users are downloading your app.
When choosing your new software name, remember to focus on:
Most of the best software names only have one or two words associated with them. You can combine words together to keep them relatively short, or just use a single term, like “Slack”. The shorter your name is, the easier it will be to search for.
While shorter names are much better for memorability, they’re also somewhat restrictive. The fewer letters you have, the less scope you have to design an entirely new name. It’s important to make sure the title you’re using hasn’t already been taken.
You can check for copyrights and trademarks online.
Don’t just assume your name is simple because it’s short and sweet. Try saying the name out loud. You can share your name with multiple people throughout your business and see if anyone has any issues with figuring out how to say the word.
If people aren’t sure how to pronounce your name, it will be harder to share.
As mentioned above, it’s fine to misspell your software application, provided it’s still easy to remember. Although a misspelled name can be more memorable, it can also be harder to find online when users aren’t entirely sure what they’re looking for.
The name you choose should have an obvious spelling.
Speaking of keeping things simple, try to avoid any extra “additions” to your name. While a hyphen might seem like a good idea to bring various words together, it’s likely to get lost when people are searching for your app.
Stick to letters only, and try to avoid numbers, as most people won’t know when to use the characters or the written numbers.
Remember, your software name should also be representative of your wider brand and company. Think about the kind of emotional impact you’re trying to make with your business, and what sort of terms you want your audience to associate you with.
Salesforce, for example, chose the name “Einstein” for its AI application.
The name makes sense for a company trying to highlight a position as a leader in its field, with a strong focus on professionalism. It’s also a memorable title because it’s something many people will already be familiar with.
Struggling with software product names? Mix it up
The rapidly growing software landscape means it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a name for your app unique to your needs. One of the biggest challenges people face when learning how to name software, is figuring out how to separate themselves from other brands.
If you’ve tried looking at all of the more “obvious” terms available for your app, based on your unique selling point, or your features, it’s time to get creative. Fortunately, you can always do some out of the box thinking.
Although it’s important to be cautious with how much slang you use, this environment can be ideal for finding extra sources of inspiration.
Names like “Netflix” are based on slang terms like “flicks” used to represent movies. The key to success here is making sure your audience will be familiar with the slang term you’re using. It’s also best to double-check there are no additional meanings to the term you might not be aware of.
Use melodic terms
Experiment with language and how a word makes you feel to create a more significant lasting impact for your target audience. For instance, you can add terms like “ify” to the end of a name to make it sound more fun and engaging, such as “Spotify”.
Adding extra letters in the form of prefixes and suffixes to your name is a good way to make your title a little different, without trying to cram too many terms together.
Invented names are common for both brands and products when business leaders are struggling to find something unique. The biggest challenge with creating a new name from scratch, is making sure it has the right emotional impact on your audience.
To ensure your inventive name makes sense, try to choose something with a reference to another word. For instance, the word “mobi” makes us think of mobile.
How to check the validity of your software product names
Once you think you have a name you can rely on to express the core features and functionality of your software application, it’s time to ensure you can actually use it for your business.
Remember, there are countless other apps on the market today. Even if a company isn’t using the exact some name as you, something too similar could make your moniker less memorable.
Not only do similar names cause problems with memorability, but they can lead to legal issues and battles down the line too. Bear in mind, there were a lot of issues in the software landscape when Microsoft and Cisco both used the word “teams” for their collaboration app.
Narrow your list of app names down to your favorite options, approved by your shareholders, then check whether they’re available searching through app marketplaces and trademark registers.
You’ll also need to ensure your name is available for any domain names too. Even if you won’t be making a dedicated website for your app, you don’t want someone else to have the name.
Other ways to check the validity of your name include:
Testing it on your coworkers
Naming, whether it’s for a business or product, should never be done in a vacuum. It’s easy for one person to miss colloquialisms or issues other people will pick up.
Run your selection of names past your colleagues and other people in your team. This will give you a chance to ensure it makes the right impression every time.
Research your name
You’ll need to ensure the name you’ve chosen doesn’t have any meanings or connotations which could have a negative impact on your business.
These days, words and phrases can end up having a lot of different meanings, particularly as new generations approach the market. Double-check you’re not missing anything.
Talk to your audience
When creating a new name for a software solution, many big technology companies talk to their customers. If you already have loyal clients, ask them for their opinion on which name in your list of top choices makes the most sense for you.
Not only will this help you to make the right choice, but it also makes your customers feel more invested in your new product, and generates hype
What if you’re still struggling to find a software name?
If after all these tips, you still don’t know how to name software solutions effectively, you might need to think about talking to the professionals.
Naming software applications is extremely complex. You need something searchable and memorable, but it’s also important to find a moniker unique enough to stand out from millions of other applications.
You could expand your options by using a name generation tool for more inspiration, though we wouldn’t recommend using one of the suggested names from these apps directly, as they’re often generic, and may not have the right impression on your audience.
Instead, it’s usually a good idea to reach out to a naming company, like Fabrik, with experience in the software space. These companies will have background knowledge about how to name technology applications, and what kinds of words and phrases work best.
A software naming company will be able to work with you to understand the values and visions of your company, so they can convey those in your chosen moniker. They can also help with the due diligence of researching your name and ensuring it’s available for use.
While working with an extra branding specialist on your software naming process might seem like an extra expense for a growing business, it’s often a lot more affordable than launching your app with the wrong name.
Remember, the wrong title can immediately send customers away from your brand and make it difficult to connect with your clients.
Choosing the ideal software name
Just like any form of naming, figuring out how to name software can be a time-consuming and complicated process. Naming your app will be one of the most important stages of developing your brand identity.
It’s how you ensure you connect with the customers most likely to appreciate your new solution and carve a space for yourself in a growing market.
When you’re struggling with naming, the best option is to seek out some additional help. Branding experts have years of experience in creating sensational names. They can also conduct market and customer research to help you make a more informed choice.
Fabrik: A naming agency for our times.
We’ve made our name famous by naming other businesses.
Get in touch if you have a company, product, or service that requires a unique name. Click below, and let’s start a conversation today!
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