Ways to name an app

You won’t believe what we were about to name our app

Have you ever named a dog or a cat or – dare I say – a tiny human? It’s not easy, right? You’ve gotta be prepared to yell this name around other people so while “Nooch Noochy” might sound funny, you don’t want to be screaming that at the top of your lungs in a park, right? You’d look like a lunatic.

Now imagine you have to name an app. You can’t name a person based on their functions (although I guess the name Walker sort of fits here), but the name of an app has to allude to, if not explicitly state, the app’s purpose. Naming an app isn’t easy.

So we thought we’d share how we finally ended up naming our most recent app, CopyTrans Cloudly, which downloads, deletes, and rescues “permanently” deleted photos from iCloud servers. We hope it helps you the next time you need to name an app (or anything else) of your own.



So first things first, we can’t name an app if we don’t have any names. This stage was all about word association, pure creation. Nothing was out-of-bounds here. You just create and create and create and record all of it. From here, we got some fun names like:

  • Moisture Farmer
    All right stick with me, so the app goes and gets photos from the cloud, right? And clouds are moisture, and because the app gets stuff from the cloud, it’s like… farming. Who else farms clouds/moisture? Luke Skywalker, bro.
  • Jedi
    We like Star Wars
  • O’Clouder
    How to name your app
  • Demistified
    Get it? Like… demystified, but with an ‘i’ because clouds are made of like… mist! Yeah, too much explanation.

These were fun, but a faction of the brainstorming crew was more interested in having something more, well, sensible. As funny as those names might be, they were either more for our entertainment or too esoteric. So maybe there could be something more direct, more sensible like:

  • Photogetter
  • CloudGone
  • Photo Extractor
    Does the word ‘extract’ make anyone else think of the dentist?
  • CloudBuster


2. ALL the ideas?

Of course, all these ideas couldn’t survive. We had to end up with just one name, so some elimination was required, but how to eliminate? Well, we wrote them all up and voted, like the founding fathers would have wanted. This was about finding the meaning we wanted to express, the semantic core of the name. Names fell quickly. Among the deceased:

  • Passioncloud

    Tips for naming your app

  • Photo Juicer
  • Cloud Butter

The names that remained were: Cloudfarm, CloudBuster, DeClouder, Unclouded, Photogetter, Cloudstuck, Cloudless, Cloudly, Byecloud, and CloudFree.

We went from intensely macro and slowly whittled our way down, honing the meaning of the name. Ideas were coalescing into a semi-unified idea of what we wanted to express with the name. You can even see it in what survived; DeClouder, Unclouded, Cloudless, and Byecloud all obviously express essentially the same thing. But how to choose among the survivors?

3. Norma Jeane Mortenson or Marilyn Monroe?

We’re not sure Norma Jeane Mortenson would have been the icon she was if she hadn’t changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. See, ‘Norma Jeane Mortenson’ didn’t fit the image she ended up creating; it wasn’t quite as elegant or seductive as ‘Marilyn Monroe.’ We had to Monroe our app, feel it out and give it the name it deserved, a name that fit the aesthetic we had already created when designing the app interface. This part was harder, when things really got down to the wire. See, we had already decided on a feel to the app. It was kind of sassy and silly and had hand-drawn animations in it. It was, well, friendly. Just look at the error screen:

The best way to name an app

So what sort of name does this app have? What name goes with that adorable face? What series of noises expresses this interface? Okay, so we had name ideas based on the functions of the app, but did we have a name for the fashion of the app? It was a strange process – we had to basically feel out the soul of the app. A few names were eliminated right away – CloudBuster died. First of all, it sounded too much like Ghostbusters and, second of all, it sounded too harsh for this sweet app. Cloudfarm? No, this app aesthetic didn’t really fit on a farm. Photogetter? That was too literal for this app.

Don’t get me wrong, there were still members of the company who were intent on the idea that the name should be expressive of the functions rather than the image. And we’re not saying this design-and-function-unifying method is the only way you can name an app. You can fall entirely on one side of the equation or the other – go for full design inspiration or full function inspiration, it’s all good in our books, and both work. But for us, we decided that both the image and function had to be taken into consideration.

So after heated debate, we settled on Cloudly.

heated debate

Pictured: heated debate


It was cute in the same way we had designed the app, but not cloying – it sounded like it could still do amazing things, just as this app can. And it suggested the app’s function without being overbearing.

To put it more simply, we gathered as many ideas as we could, used those ideas to hone in on the meaning while eliminating names that didn’t fit, and then had to choose from that list of names based on both function and design. Thus, our baby app was christened Cloudly.

But what do you think? Any app names you would have liked? Favorites from our list of fallen names? Stupidest name we came up with? Let us know in the comments!