B is for Branding

Balancing discoverability and trademark strength

App Store users have a very short attention span when searching for apps. They say your app icon and app name should convey what your app does at first glance.

Be careful not to make your app name too descriptive though. Descriptive names can’t be trademarked and it might be difficult to prevent competitors from using the same name once your app is successful.

I struck the middle ground with TextingStory as the name is somewhat meaningful but not plainly descriptive. I was able to secure a trademark and the dot com domain which really helped later on.

I read a good piece of advice somewhere that if you’re starting to gain some traction with an app you should register the trademark in the US or whichever country has your biggest userbase. Registering a trademark has a cost but it will give weight to the infringement notices you’ll eventually be making to app stores.

This means it’s good practice to check the trademark databases for similar names before naming your app! Trademarks are limited to one or several business fields so it’s OK if a name is registered in an unrelated field. However, make sure none is registered in a technology field.

My checklist for naming an app:

  • Explore a balance of self-explanatory names and strong brand names
  • Make sure that searching for the name in the app store leads to few results and no heavily downloaded apps (see O for Organic).
  • Make sure a dot com or other relevant internet domain is free for the name
  • Make sure there is no similar trademark in a tech domain
  • Google it to make sure it doesn’t reveal any problematic/negative links first

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