A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

March 22, 2019

How to Select a Name for Your New Skill

There’s an art to picking a name for your Amazon Alexa skill (or your Google action). The first step is understanding the difference between two things:

1. Skill Name – Your skill name is the name displayed in the Amazon Alexa app. Anyone wanting to use your skill has to first “enable” it in the app before they can access it on their Echo. So the skill name is the name you’ll be marketing to potential users.

2. Invocation Name – In comparison, the invocation name is what someone has to tell their Echo in order to access the skill.

Your invocation name is more important than your skill name since that’s what people will mostly be using. Here’s a few pointers to bear in mind for invocation names:

1. Your invocation name isn’t required to be the same as your skill’s name – but they should definitely be related so that your users can connect the dots

2. Even more importantly, the invocation name should reflect what your skill does (and be memorable). Ideally, it will be specific to your skill’s functionality – unless you have a unique brand that your users will readily understand. Combining functionality with a known brand is even better!

3. The invocation name should also be the kind of phrase that people aren’t likely to botch when speaking – so that Alexa can easily understand it

4. Shorter is always better. But don’t make it unnecessarily short if it doesn’t capture what the skill does nor is memorable

5. The invocation name should fit smoothly with at least one of the Alexa skill launch phrases (“launch,” “ask,” “tell,” “load,” “begin”) to allow users to naturally invoke the skill

As explained in this note, Amazon has a number of restrictions for invocation names, including:

1. Can’t use one-word invocation names (unless unique to your brand/intellectual property)
2. Can’t use names of people or places (unless they contain other words in addition to the name)
3. Can’t use two-word invocation names if one of the words is a definite article (“the”), indefinite article (“a,” “an”) or preposition (“for,” “to,” “of”)
4. Can’t use any of the Alexa skill launch phrases & connecting words, nor contain the wake words “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Echo” – or the words “skill” or “app”
5. Can’t infringe upon someone’s intellectual property rights