by Till Friebe15 min readOctober 7, 2022
Three years ago we started programming Space. The name stems from the learning algorithm Spaced Repetition. Unfortunately, we didn't give the decision much thought. Oops. Only later did we learn the pros and cons of the name.
One advantage, when a user searches for "Spaced Repetition", our app appears at the top of the list. This gave us an initial download boost. However, the name also has problems that we didn't realize until later. For example, if you search for "Space", you don't find our flashcards app. This is because "Space" is too common among app names. To fix this error, we are renaming Space and this time we will do it more thoughtfully!
As I noticed with Space, I lack the methods to distinguish good names from bad names. The first thing I did was search for advice and I found these guides:
These three guides are great and much of this post is inspired by them. I recommend you read the linked guides as well.
If you're in the process of finding a name for your app, I've created this template and want to share it with you, to help you make a better decision. In this post, I go through all the facets of the template and methodology.
The first thing I did was start writing down every association I could think of. I used google sheets to keep track of these ideas. To find more associations, I researched Wikipedia entries on the subjects that came to mind.
After finding about 50 ideas for my app, I created names from them. For this, I played around with combinations, letter swaps, and endings. I also used name generators like Namelix, Brandroot and Namium, where you enter keywords and get names back. Unfortunately, I was unlucky and rarely found a name I liked.
The names I came up with were for example Knowledo, RepeatIt and Learnly. I have to say, though, that I don't particularly like these names because they are shallow. That's why I stopped with associations and looked at other methods. But, if you like these names, you can find more tips here.
My next strategy was to categorize the app names to come up with new ideas. With the help of the guides, I found the following categories:
Of all the categories, I especially like names with positioning, as they make the intention clear to the reader and thus easier to remember. To find a good name, I looked at the "A new direction" article and tried to summarize it into one name. Besides the name for positioning, I came up with names for every other category.
Through this process, I had about 60 names, which was enough for me. Now it was time to pick the cream of the crop. I created these metrics to distinguish a good name from a bad one:
There are other metrics in the guides, such as
For me, however, the above five metrics are enough, because I want to make the metrics as clear as possible and avoid overlaps. Moreover, fewer metrics are less work, which simplifies the ratings for friends.
Since I need to have a website for my app, I need a domain. For this, I copied the names and added them to the bulk search of name.com. I have selected ".app" and ".com" as possible top-level domains. After clicking on the search button, name.com gave me a list, where I could see if the respective domain is available.
To save you some work, I came up with the sheet "Domains" in the template. In this sheet, the names are automatically taken from the "Names" sheet and domains with ".app" and ".com" are created. You can then copy and paste the list into the bulk search. Afterward, you can copy the generated CSV file and paste it back into the sheet.
The "Domain available" rating is automatically assigned as soon as "Available" is next to the domain name in the "Domains" sheet. If the name has the .com domain available, the name gets the full score of 1. If only the .app domain is available, it gets 0.8 points. If no domain is available, it gets 0 points. If you don't need a domain for your app you can just remove the column.
The positioning reflects how well the name shows the core idea of the app and therefore the position of the app in contrast to the market. This makes the core idea of the app obvious and thus makes the name more memorable.
An example of good positioning is Apple for the computer market in the 1970s. Apple positioned itself with its name as a warm and intuitive company in contrast to the colder, unreachable companies like Intel, Micral and IBM.
An example of bad positioning for flashcards is FastCards (made up). This name doesn't have good positioning because there are already apps with Cards in their names, e.g. TinyCards and FlashCards+. Also, Fast doesn't help distinguish the unique selling point of the app. Thus, the name is lost in the sea of flashcard apps.
Space has also a bad positioning, as there is no easily recognizable connection between the name and a flashcard app for the user. The connection between Space and Spaced Repetition can also only be seen if one has studied the inner workings of flashcards well. Moreover, Space doesn't distinguish itself from other flashcards with its name and is thus not easy to remember.
Search-friendly indicates how easy it is to get to the top of a search engine and an app store. The easier it is to be at the top of the list with the name, the greater the chances that the app is found and used. Also, the name should be writable once you hear it. Additionally, an important aspect of being search friendly is that new users find it automatically when searching for their interests.
For example, a name with good searchability is the made-up name Krandia. This name is completely unused and therefore one can easily reach the top position.
A bad example of a flashcards app is FlashCards because there are already many apps that have the name Flashcards and the name is therefore very competitive.
The name Space is interesting in this category. On the one hand, the name is bad because many games have Space in the name, e.g. Spaceflight Simulator and Space Shooter. On the other hand, the algorithm to repeat flashcards is called Spaced Repetition and thus gives Space a search boost when searching for Spaced Repetition. This helps with initial searches for the app. However, the advantage is lost when people recommend the app to others since people only pass on the name Space and then the search for the app is hopeless.
Depth is a measure of how many associations or if there is a pun with the name. A good name must have a surprise effect when you think of the name to make it more memorable.
For example, a name with good depth is Apple. Apple is a surprising name for a computer company and has the following associations, among others:
Finding associations with a name is hard for me personally, it can help to use tools to do this, such as WordReference. To find proverbs, I can recommend The Phrase Finder. Both tools help to get an overview of what associations and phrases exist for a name.
Sound is the metric that deals with how the name sounds. To avoid going completely by feel, I created these sub-metrics and check whether the name
Depending on the app, you have to weigh the sub-metrics differently. For example, for me, verbalizing isn't important. But for a search engine e.g. Google, that can be more important.
Use this template if you want to take a similar approach. In it are five sheets, Associations, Names, Domains, Person 1 and Summary.
The first sheet is Associations. This is the place where you can write all the associations to your app.
The second sheet is Names. Write all possible names for your app here. The names are automatically copied to the other sheets.
The third sheet is Domains. There, the domains ending with ".app" and ".com"
are created for each name. You can copy the names into the bulk search of
name.com to check whether the names are available.
There you can download a
.csv file and paste the "Available" column into the
The fourth sheet is Person 1. In this sheet, one person can rate the names. Before you start rating, it's best to copy the sheet and rename it to your name. Then you always have a template ready for another person. The rating goes from 0 to 1, where 0 is the worst, 0.5 is medium good and 1 is the best.
The fifth sheet is Summary. There you see the summarized rating for each name of each person. In the rightmost column Total, you see the average rating of all people for a name. This helps you to agree on a name in the group. In the template, the rating of each person is weighted the same, but you can adjust the formulas and change the weighting.
If you have suggestions or you find bugs in the template feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After my friends and I rated the names, Feynman, YouCademy and TubeCards were in the top three. Now I'll take a closer look at those names in detail. In the end, I will choose a name and rename Space to that.
At first, I checked if the domains are available. Unfortunately, feynman.com and feynman.app aren't available. I played around with the name and found the available domain feinman.app, which is okay.
The name has great depth and origins from the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. He is considered one of the top 10 physicists of all time. Among other things, he worked on the Manhattan Project, won a Nobel Prize, and was a professor at Caltech. But he's not just a physicist. Through his humor, his bongo playing and his lock picking he is the iconic example a scientist that is also funny.
From the depth, one could conclude that the app is positioning itself as a fun learning app. Unfortunately, Feynman isn't well-known outside of physics. This is why many users don't notice the positioning and thus it doesn't have good positioning. Moreover, there is no connection between Feynman and flashcards.
Since the name comes from the famous physicist Feynman, it is very difficult to land in the top positions on Google. However, there are no apps in the Play Store and App Store with the name Feynman. Additionally, the name has the disadvantage that you can not write it after hearing it for the first time.
Even if one doesn't know the physicist, it sounds very similar to a fine man, which has a nice ring for me. In a way, it also sets an elegant style for the app. The "en" part of the name is a bit of a concern, though, as I can imagine that it might rub some people the wrong way.
Our initial rating for the name was high. After writing down the pros and cons, I realized that the name isn't well suited for a flashcard app. I think the name would be better suited for a YouTube channel with physics education videos.
For Youcademy the domain youcademy.com isn't available, but youcademy.app is. As a result, Youcademy doesn't have the full score, but it is good enough in my opinion.
Youcademy is a combination of YouTube and Academy. Academy comes from the ancient Greek "Akadēmía" and means the garden where Plato taught. A beautiful meaning in my opinion. Unfortunately, nowadays academy has for me a sterile and elitist connotation. (Sidenote: I would prefer Youniversity, but there is no domain available). So there is some depth to the name, but it isn't very positive.
The positioning is unclear since the user must first make the non-obvious connection between "You" and YouTube. I guess that at first, the user will think it is an app to select university courses and learn them on their own. This is still okay in my opinion, but not what the name should express.
The name has good searchability. There are no competitors in the Play Store/App Store and on Google, the competitors are still quite small. Besides, the name isn't easy to write after hearing it. It isn't clear whether to write "Youcademy" or "Ucademy".
On the positive side, the name isn't a swear word and is interesting because it has a Y at the beginning and at the end. However, the name sounds similar to Udemy and has already been confused with it several times by friends. Thus, the name does not have a high rating in the sound metric.
Unfortunately, the name doesn't score strongly in any metric upon closer examination. Therefore, this will not be Space's new name.
The domain tubecards.com isn't available, but tubecards.app is.
Tubecards is a mix between "Tube" from YouTube and "Cards" from flashcards. The etymology of tube is from Latin and means pipe. Without the connection to YouTube, this makes little sense. The name doesn't have particularly good depth as far as I can see.
If the user notices the connection of "tube" to YouTube and cards to flashcards, the name has a high rating in positioning. The connection between "Tube" and YouTube is almost obvious, as "tube" is a rarely used name. This makes the positioning strong.
There is no app on Google in the App Store/Play Store for the name yet. The name is writable after hearing it for the first time. It may be confused with similar-sounding names, such as "CubeCards". This gives the name a high rating in search friendliness, but also not the highest.
TubeCards sounds "normal" and isn't a swear word in any language. It sounds more like Kiki, making it a harder name. Thus, the name has a mediocre rating on sound.
The strong positioning and high search friendliness make this the best name of the three. However, the name also has its weaknesses and with more time I could find better names. But I have already invested a lot of time in the search and don't want to invest more time in it. That's why I rename Space to TubeCards. I'm glad to hear what you think about the name.