Design the Invocation Name for Your Skill

What is an invocation name

An invocation name is an expression that users say to open and begin an interaction with a particular custom skill. Ensure that your invocation name works reliably, as users will otherwise be unable to discover and access your skill experience. The success rate of an invocation name is integral to skill engagement.

Great invocation names are memorable and explicit, making it easy for customers to understand what the skill can do and recall the invocation in the future when trying to access it. When choosing an invocation name, start with the Invocation Name Requirements, which your invocation name must satisfy in order to publish the skill. The following section provides you with a list of things to consider when choosing the best possible invocation name for your skill.

How to choose your invocation name

The following table shows considerations for invocation names.

Description Acceptable Unacceptable

Don't infringe upon intellectual property. You must own the intellectual property rights to use a brand as an invocation name. For more information about intellectual property policies, see Policy Testing for an Alexa Skill.

robotic cleaner guide or roomba only if you own the brand with proof of ownership established through documentation

roomba

Don't create one-word invocation names, unless unique to your brand or intellectual property with proof of ownership established through documentation, or unless (German skills only) a compound of two or more words.

coffee robot
kaffeeroboter (German skill)
ice machine
eismaschine (German skill)

robot (generic and no intellectual property)
ice

Don't use names of people or places, unless the invocation name contains other words.

molly's horoscope
seattle spotlight

molly
seattle

For two-word invocation names, don't use a definite article ("the"), indefinite article ("a", "an") or preposition ("for", "to", "of,", etc.).

bicycle adventure
espresso paradise

a bicycle
an espresso

Don't include any of the Alexa skill launch phrases ("open", "start", "launch", etc.) and connecting words ("and", "with", "to", etc.). For more information about launch phrases and connecting words, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills.

sesame wonderland
heartful running
kids hit radio

open sesame world
run with your heart
play kids radio

Don't include any of the wake words "alexa", "amazon", or "echo" or the words "skill" or "app."

dream singers
world zoo quiz

alexa music box
animal quiz skill

Use only lowercase alphabetic characters, spaces between words, and possessive apostrophes. Languages that use non-alphabetic characters such as Japanese or Hindi should meet the conventions in place for the respective marketplace. Other characters like numbers must be spelled out.

sam's science trivia
twenty one housing
shoe for you dot com
shoe for you com

sams science trivia
21 housing
shoe4you.com

Acronyms or abbreviations that are pronounced as a series of individual letters should be all lowercase and separated by periods and spaces. If the abbreviation is pronounced as a word, it should be all lowercase but not contain periods or spaces.

n. p. r.
p. s. five
a. b. c. news
sunshine nasa

NPR
n.p.r. (must include space after each period)
p.s. five (must include space after the first period)
abc news (must include periods and spaces)
sunshine NASA

Don't spell out phonemes for acronyms or abbreviations.

a. w. s.
b. b. c. one

ay double u ess
bee bee see one

Write in each language you choose to support. If your skill is published in a non-English marketplace and the invocation name contains English words that are commonly used, use the English spelling of the words. In cases where spelling differs between the local language and English, use the spelling of the local language.

limostand (German skill)
lemonade stand (English skill)
trivial pursuit familia (Spanish skill)
trivial pursuit family (English skill)
リモートワークガイド (Japanese skill)
remote work guide (English skill)

lemonade stand (German skill)
trivial pursuit family (Spanish skill)
remote work guide (Japanese skill)

The invocation name must not be to similar to existing Alexa features or common Alexa commands to ensure your skill can be discovered reliably.

light bulb moments
smart shopper
super time keeper

light bulb (commonly used in a smart home context)
shopping
timer

Don't create invocation names that are too generic to enable your skill.

book lovers
test helper (or another invocation name that relates to the actual function of your skill)

book
test test

What to check for your invocation name

Check the facts

You can change your invocation name at any time while developing a skill, but cannot change it after a skill is certified and published.

The invocation name should also fit smoothly with at least one of the Alexa skill launch phrases (“open”, "start", "launch", etc.) to allow customers to naturally invoke the skill.

There are a few edge cases that can cause ambiguity and potentially decrease the customer’s rate of success when launching a skill. Consider these specific cases when choosing an invocation name for your skill to improve a customer’s first interaction and, therefore, the customer experience. Importantly, they should be tested to find any potential issues. For example:

  • Words Borrowed from Other Languages - Speakers may have difficulty pronouncing these invocation names with the appropriate accent, dialect, tone, or linguistic flair. This is particularly prevalent across languages that have different sound repertoires or ways of speaking. Users also may not even know how to attempt to say these invocation names, so account for all possible variations.

  • Potential Overlap with Alexa Features - Skills involving radio stations, TV shows, home appliances, or common pop culture entities may cause confusion with pre-enabled Alexa features that are available by default on any device, such as Music, Weather, Shopping Lists, Smart Home management, and Calling. For example, if your skill overlaps with a “weather” command, Alexa may occasionally respond with the Alexa weather feature, rather than your skill. When choosing an invocation name, proactive testing can help determine if this issue may be relevant to your skill.

  • Ambiguous Sounds - When checking invocation names, be aware of common linguistic patterns within the language of the skill to determine how these may affect invocation name recognition. Examples of this include nasal sounds (for example, “m” and “n”) changing how vowels are recognized, vowel lengthening/shortening within a word, or the deletion of the “g” at the end of some “ing” words (for example, “running”). Your invocation name should be easy to pronounce correctly and be phonetically distinct to avoid being misinterpreted as other similar sounding words.

  • Unfamiliar Words - These invocation names may include purposefully misspelled words, brand names, or made-up words. Invocation names that include made-up words are unlikely to work well since they’re unfamiliar.

  • Format and Structure - Invocation names that could be represented in several different written forms may cause recognition challenges. For example, compound words like “goodmorning” could easily be recognized as “good morning.” Initialisms, acronyms, and abbreviations could be recognized in a multitude of ways.

Run the test

Plan on spending some time testing your invocation name by voice once you have an initial version of your service up and running. Testing the invocation name of the skill repeatedly to determine the number of times it launches successfully out of a large sample will allow you to determine just how consistently customers are reaching your skill. For more information check the Test and Debug a Custom Skill section in the developer documentation.

Make adjustments

Be attentive and think of a few viable invocation names in case of any issues. Make sure it is easy to say and consistently recognized by Alexa. Consider changing the name if Alexa frequently fails to recognize it.

Choose invocation name, check the facts, make adjustments