or: No more Angry Justin Biber apps, please!
Remember the Simpsons episode when Homer changes his name into Max Power and gets promotion, more money and respect from everyone in Springfield? It’s a perfect example of how a name influences how we perceive things/people. Apparently, there are also developers who believe in this and think that it’s enough to give a sounding name to an app and it will instantly become a success. When checking the apps to be included into our showcase of the coolest apps, our editors found that every day there are at least three or four apps with Justin Biber or Angry in the title. And they are usually worthless. So, it made us wonder: how important is the name of an app really? And we decided to analyze what kind of influence the name of an app has on its success on the App Store.
Giving the name to the app is crucial for its success
Giving a name to your application is one of the most important decisions you will make in the process of development. It should clearly convey the message you want and illustrate the use and features of the app. Also, it needs to promote the image you want. Furthermore, you, as a company, will associate your name with it for some time – when pitching to new clients for example (and it would be nice if your previous projects didn’t look lame then, right?). The name of the app differentiates you from your competition and from several thousand similar apps available out there.
And this is very important if you have in mind that, as AdMob report suggested previously, more than half of users find the apps they later install by searching the AppStore for a specific type of app (while only 25 and 20 % respectively discover the apps by seeing ads in other apps or reading about them at blogs or news sites). So if your name stands out and the user understands instantly what it does and why it is better than the competition, you will have more chances for App Store success. Yes, we are talking about App Store SEO here. Your name is one of the only three fields (the other two being keywords and your company name) which are indexed for search. Your company name will hardly be helpful for search (unless you are Chillingo) and your keywords are limited to 100 characters. Do the math yourself – your app name is a hell of an opportunity which you should not miss. This leads us to another dilemma:
Generic or brand name?
To create a unique, instantly recognizable brand name no one has ever heard before (which will make it easy to claim on the web and social networks) and make a brand out of it or go with a generic name which just describes what the app does?
If you go with the first option, you should be prepared to work hard (and invest some serious cash) to make people aware of your app and what it does. It will pay out later (if you succeed) since you can protect your brand name and people will be more likely to choose your app (“I’ve heard somewhere about this“) than others. However, as we’ve said – it takes time, effort and money.
The other option is to go with a generic term, such as Barcode Scanner, and try to use your name to improve your (App Store) SEO as much as possible. More importantly, people will have a clear picture of what the app does and if you could add creative twist to it, such as GoSkyWatch Planetarium – the astronomy star guide, your app name could really work for you.
The decision largely depends of your budget and the uniqueness of your app. More budget/uniqueness – make it a brand. If not, perhaps it’s wiser to try to incorporate more generic terms into your name.
And now, apps which will never be on Smashapp
or Does Apple allow this?
A good name can also create buzz. Remember the infamous I am Rich app? It did nothing and yet it sold at least 8 copies for only one day, just because of its name. And the apps mentioned in the introduction (with celebrity names or parts of names of other popular apps) follow the same philosophy – use name to get people to buy the app and what happens afterwards doesn’t matter. There are tons and tons of garbage apps out there which only have sounding names.
Apparently Apple does not allow this. In their guidelines they say: “We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted. If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.”
However, they exist and our editors come across them every day. It seems that for the time being you can “slip” under radar for some time and try to exploit this tactic to earn some money. Some people even go as far as to stuff their company name with a list of keywords in an attempt to rank higher. And as we have said the guys from Apple tolerate it, but if they want to keep winning in the App Store wars they will have to pay more attention to this issue.
Or we will have apps which have no support website, or have support link pointing to some teenager’s YouTube page, do nothing, exploit celebrities they probably don’t have permission to, etc. It is not enough to add “Angry” into the title to make your app cool (be it tweets, bombs, beetles, what ever).
So, even if you are thinking of earning a couple of dollars by using such techniques, please don’t. I believe that our editors could not stand opening the list with the newest apps in the morning for one more time and find that one third of them have Justin Biber in their name.
You can use the power of the app’s name to help your app become App Store success, and as we’ve said it will have huge influence on whether users find your app and whether they choose to install it (the importance of the app name can only be rivaled by the design of the app icon) BUT only if your app has a value on its own.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this and some examples of good/bad app names and why you liked/hated them.
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