Branding Your App – Why & How?
App Builder Appy Pie, January 8: It goes without saying that mobile apps are essential for everyone for almost anything under the sun. Whether you are looking for a good place to order your pizza tonight, or you are planning to buy a new house, mobile apps come to your rescue everywhere. This evening when you walk out of your office, on the way back home, if you look up and take a look around, there is a good chance that most of these people would be using their mobile devices and be interacting with one of the millions of apps available on one of their chosen platforms. This pool of millions of mobile apps that are available on various platforms is only increasing as more and more developers are joining in with their ingenious new apps to be used by the mobile phone users. The mobile technologies are ever evolving and are only getting better with each day, but the one aspect of mobile technologies that has been ignored thus far is – mobile app branding.
It is a well established fact that more and more people are getting more and more addicted to their mobiles and it is for the mobile app developers to take advantage of this fact and spread the word about their apps and place their app brands well enough to be registered in the users’ minds and create & hold a position of reverence.
What is Branding or Brand Building when it comes to Mobile apps?
A mobile app brand is a essentially a complex combination of a variety of crucial factors that include the name of the app, the app logo, your products or services that you’d be offering through your app, the app itself, and the website if any.
Why Brand Building is important?
Mobile app branding has been neglected mostly because most of the app developers do not understand that establishing a brand is pivotal to the success of your app. Branding gives human values, attributes, & values to the app. When you brand you app well, it basically gives you a control over the associations that are triggered whenever users see your app icon, or hear its name.
Once you have a great idea for an app, you might have paved a great path to begin your journey, but that’s all that it is – just the beginning. Most of the web crawlers or the internet and phone addicts are hooked to their apps and are checking on them at every conceivable opportunity. It is important, hence to give the customers or users what they are seeking with the help of a brand that is strategically created and is exemplary in information and functionality. The app becomes the face of the brand which exists in the users’ personal space and is always with them through their mobile devices. The app branding when done right results in a strong relationship between the brand and the customers. Following is a list of some critical things to keep in mind when you are trying to build an app.
1. Consumer/User-Centric Design
The entertainment value is important of course, but the app must bring in and offer some kind of value to the consumer. After all consumer is the King! It is important to understand that it is your customer who is key here and is of the utmost importance. An app must be created with the customer in mind, because it is them finally who would be using it, sharing their views about it, recommending it, and paying for it! The app you are putting out there is, more often than not, about the user and not you. Studying your target consumer would give you a better idea about what it is that they want and that should help you get a strong understanding of the brand that you need to build, and the best way to communicate it to the users.
2. Frequent Crashes Harm The Brand Image
The user interface and the user experience are instrumental to the success of the app and contribute to the image of the brand that you have so carefully created. Put the app through a number of tests to make sure that the app is free of bugs. When the app crashes often, freezes intermittently, or if the users encounter multiple errors from time to time, the brand image can only be negative.
3. Speed & Time Are Of The Essence
This is an era and age of instant gratification, hence the speed of the app is of critical importance. Slow speed can be a big annoyance for the users and is one of the top reasons why they might uninstall the app. It is a good idea to test your app for speed before launching it in the public domain. This is where beta testing comes in handy as the beta testers can assess the functions and perform actions commonly to help you with feedback. It is this feedback that can go a long way in helping you improve your app and enhance the user experience, helping you establish a favorable brand image.
4. Media & Marketing Strategy
The media and marketing support strategy plays one of the most important roles in building a mobile app brand. A mobile app that is launched into the market without any of the marketing support is sure to fall flat on face and bomb.
5. Offer Ultimate Value
For a consumer, the app should be more than a mere extension of the company’s website. The app should offer some kind of a value to the consumers. Hence, an app that is merely offering simple information would not appeal to them. An app that is high on functionality that lead to some form of a result hold the consumers’ interest.
6. Make It Easily Referable & Incentivise It
Once a user is using your app, they should have the ease of option to refer the app to friends and family or on their social media accounts. This action helps your app register in the memories of users a lot more deeply and helps your app garner higher ratings as well. This higher positive rating will help you gain more popularity and a lot of positive attention in the industry, which is one of the prime intents or objectives of branding. When you want your app to spread like wildfire, incentivising referrals goes a long way to help you. Attach rewards to each referral conversion or other discounts or goodies and you would have built a strong organic media channel of your own.
7. Work On Your First Impressions
We might repeat the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But rarely do we ever stand by it. When it comes to the decision to buy a mobile app, a user doesn’t have much to go by, except the way it looks. The first impression that the app makes with its looks & design hold a lot of value as most of the purchase decisions are based only on that! It is not because the users are shallow, but it is because there isn’t much time for the careful weighing of pros and cons for any given app. The design of the app is what would make the users want to download your app and keep coming back to it (at least for the first few uses).
8. Update Frequently
Keep offering your consumers more and do it frequently. When you offer frequent updates, it goes a long way to help the app branding, keeping it fresh in the customers’ minds. Adding more data and additional functionalities to the app helps position the mobile app brand better.
9. Less Is More
Coming up with something simple could be one of the toughest things to do for most people. When you create something fancy with loads of design elements and splashes of colours, it is easy, but can lead to visual or information overload for the consumer. This can confuse them or make them lose interest in the app altogether. Stick to the principle of “Less is More” and bring in simplicity, easy usage, and organization to create an app that is more engaging and are user-oriented.
10. Name The App Intelligently
If you manage to name your app effectively, there is a good chance that your app would be registered more effectively in the minds of the users. When there is a strong correlation between the name of your app and in its main function, the possibility of the app to fare well in the market is high. This technique however may not work for you always due to non-availability of the name you intend to use. In those cases you may use two words to convey the idea and either hyphenate or capitalise the first letter of each word to make the app stand apart!
11. Sell The Brand
Create a strong brand manual with well defined elements like logos, colors, images, illustrations, typography, and other such elements to create a uniform brand image. Make sure that you include your brand wherever you can in the process of building your app.
12. Design The App Icon
It is your app icon that the user would be facing every time they look at their phone. Hence, the app icons too are important when it comes to elements that help users connect with the app. This tool or technique of mobile app branding involves a lot of creativity and work, but when your app icon is great it pushes your app up in the marketplace rankings and among the users. One of the most effective ways to come up with an apt icon is by correlating it to one of the main functions or features of the app. One way to do that is by choosing the same colour scheme as the app, or using a character from the app if it is a game.
13. App Logo & App Icon Are Entirely Different
They might seem interchangeable or similar to a naïve eye, but there is a key difference between the two – a logo is scalable, whereas an icon is not. It means that an icon is subject to changes in resolution if and when it is sized up or down. An icon is designed keeping in mind the technical dimensions and restrictions of the system that they are displayed on. Whereas a logo could be any shape, colour, or dimension as long as it is able to maintain its integrity at any size. It should have the ability of create an instant brand recognition whether it is displayed on a massive advertising airship or it is on a tiny garment label on the inside of your shirt.
14. Treat Your Logo As A Long-Term Investment
It is important that your logo be endurable, with a good logo lasting at least a good 8-10 years. While some logos truly stand the test of times and last a really long time, there are some that fall terribly short. Get together with your designer and put your heads together and first, identify the right target audience to speak with. If you are able to do this successfully, you are definitely on your way to creating a successful brand.
When it comes to mobile app brands, it is key to think “small”, you must never totally change the logo and dilute its meaning, as it may confuse the users terribly and hurt brand image and recognition. It’s ok to make small adjustments or changes to the logo to move in tune with the changing times, but total change is only OK when you’re doing a total brand repositioning.
15. Do Not Rush It
Your app is more than just another technicality or box that you need to check off of your list. It needs to be given due attention and every aspect of the mobile app development has some importance attached to it. If we ignore, or skip even one stage or phase, or aspect, chances are that the app won’t function properly, not in the way it was supposed to. Though the app development process rarely ever meets this fate, but the design end quite often falls in the ignored section. It is because a developer is more likely to spend and engage all their resources, time, and money to debugging the app and in optimizing their features. It is important that you treat design process the same way you treat the development process, so that it doesn’t look like a rushed-up job.
16. Stay Away From Clichés
While you want your app logo and icon to be recognizable and relatable, it is important that you stay as far away from the clichés as possible. While a light bulb might clearly indicate the concept of an idea, it might not make sense to use it. It has been overdone, and overused already and quite a few times. If you are just another one of the millions of apps available on the platform with an icon that is inseparable from the others, chances are the users won’t be interested in what you have for them. Keep it clean, keep it relatable, and most importantly keep it interesting!
17. Create & Maintain A Strong Sense Of Belonging
Make your app an absolute must have for all your users, making them open it repeatedly and for everything! Keep the interactions strong too while helping the users deal with any problems or issues they might encounter while using the app. When you let the users know that you are there for them, they would not only appreciate it, but also develop a bond with the app.
18. Maintain Consistency
One of the most important traits for any app would be the consistency with which it delivers. It is important to innovate but it is even more important to remain loyal to the message you want to send out to your users. Be consistent with your brand’s theme, stick to the guidelines and carry the same brand elements all across the app and throughout its promotion.
19. Stay Aware About The Developments Among Competitors
You might be hiring a great designer to help you design your brand identity, but it is you who would have to provide them the first insight and direction by taking a deep look at the existing solutions in the market and conduct a thorough competitor study. Keep abreast of the changes and developments that your competition is making and then take measures to stand apart. If everyone in your category is using bright and splashy aesthetics, maybe it is a good idea to come up with a clean minimalistic design to stand apart.
20. Avoid Complexities, Keep It Simple
The market is abound with mobile apps whose branding ideas are complicated, confusing, limiting, and sometimes irrelevant. While a design may make sense to you because you have spent hours maybe days or even months developing it, it doesn’t really mean that your users would feel the same way! A branding solution should most definitely be simple, memorable, enduring, and applicable.
21. Logo Is More Than Just Aesthetics
The whole idea of building a brand is to convey your brand values to the prospective or existing user. The logo needs to be able to make it easier for the users to understand who you are, and what you do, and if it is still good to look at…great!
22. Strengthen Your Help & Support
This point needs to be stressed as often as possible and then some more. The app, in order to have a positive brand image, needs to have a great help and support section. Include an “About Us”, “Help”, or “Contact Us” section to ensure that the users can reach you whenever they need any kind of help with anything pertaining to the app.
Mobile app branding is a continuous process, a process of evolution which consists of a million small details. This is a comprehensive list of all that can help you create a brand for your mobile app and make it stand out from the rest of them all!