When is an app not just another app? When does the app become an important part of your overall branding efforts, bringing attention and appreciation to your brand name that goes beyond advertising or other marketing techniques? Here’s a look at the most important factors in developing an app that actually promotes your brand name.

Build Utility Into Your Apps

Recipes, coupons, shopping lists, what’s not to love?

Too many apps are so obviously created to do nothing more than advertise that it’s almost pathetic. The successful apps that actually contribute to the process of branding offer robust functionality that users want and need. For instance, Kraft Foods developed an app so useful and practical that 60 percent of those users who downloaded it since 2008 are still using it today. Kraft’s app isn’t just about selling products. It features tons of recipes and offers coupons for products, and not all of the ingredients are just Kraft’s stuff. By building a simple, one-stop shop to answer the universal question, “What’s for dinner?” Kraft solidified their place on smartphones for good.

Offer Information That’s Hard (or Impossible) to Get Elsewhere

What can users get from your app that they can’t get off their news, weather, and sports apps? Oakley Surf Team stuffed their app with valuable information on all the favourite local surf spots, including wave heights, swell directions, tides, and the weather forecast. REI Ski Report app did something similar for snow skiers, including offering specials for their store locations near the trails. The North Face’s app offers similar information to hikers, including a feature that tracks the hikers along the trails of their choosing, which is a valuable safety feature in addition to a neat way to see how far you’ve gone and how much farther you’ve got to go. The best apps tuck the ad information (such as the store locators and coupons) inside the features of the apps so as to avoid “in your face” advertising.

Make It Entertaining

A successful app will help forward your branding efforts without blatant (and annoying) advertisements.

Zippo lighters are in a tough position. People are quitting smoking in record numbers, thanks to health warnings combined with tougher laws and higher sin taxes. Yet downloads of Zippo’s apps are soaring because the iconic lighter maker has offered something useful (well, to some) and unusual. The app features a wind-proof virtual lighter — an image of a lighter glowing on the phone screen — to use at concerts. What does this accomplish? Hopefully, non-smokers will turn to the trusty Zippo lighter to light campfires and candles on their kids’ birthday cakes and scented candles on the sides of their bathtubs, allowing the 83-year-old company to remain relevant in the age of vaping.

Audi doesn’t face the same challenges as Zippo, but it has nailed the art of an entertaining app to lure users and potential customers. The Audi app simulates a thrilling drive in one of their zippy, manoeuvrable vehicles. The movie The Karate Kid indulged in similar branding by releasing an app that featured five different games, each illustrating one of the five concepts of Kung Fu.

Pack your app with useful features that users can’t get anywhere else and make it entertaining. The more your app looks useful and enjoyable and the less it looks like an advertisement, the better it will aid in your branding efforts. Visit Glance to get started building your next mobile app today!

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