At the end of 2012, there were 1.2 billion app users globally, and that number is expected to rise to 4.4 billion by the year 2017. In 2013, 56 billion smartphone apps and 14 billion tablet apps were downloaded. In fact, around 80% of time spent on mobile devices involves app use. According to MillwardBrown, among the 2013 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, 89 have launched apps.
But simply launching an app isn’t enough. Having an IT team create an app around task-oriented activities can be a great start, but alone it can’t do much to build your brand. In-app content and messaging can be effectively used to deliver compelling brand information to the app user, and this represents an important opportunity for any brand.
Naturally, you expect your app to provide a terrific user experience and user interface, because then it’s more likely to be used regularly. But the perfect branded app is one that not only works flawlessly on your customers’ devices and provides an engaging experience, but also meets your brand objectives. Here are 5 reasons your app should reflect well on your brand.
1. To Positively Link Your Brand With Your App Whenever a Customer Uses It
When your brand is skillfully incorporated into your app, your customer learns to associate your brand with the app every time he uses it. There are countless ways to do this effectively. You may have your logo on the app’s home screen, or your app icon may incorporate your logo or other branding information. With some apps, branding information can be integrated with functionality. For example, a bank could incorporate branding “look and feel” into the customer journey as she makes a transfer or inquires about a new product.
2. Because Users Will Share Poor App Experiences
One of the main reasons your app should reflect well on your brand is because users tend to tell people if an app doesn’t meet their expectations. An app that’s boring, tedious, or buggy doesn’t make your brand look good, but an app that’s beautiful, functional, and engaging makes users feel much more positive about your brand. Apps are very personal, because people use them on phones and tablets, but people do share how they feel about apps in reviews or in person. A brand associated with a terrific app may not go viral, but it will generate positive “buzz” and word of mouth recommendation.
3. To Make the Most of Infrequently Used Apps
Unfortunately, many apps are not used often, and many apps are downloaded and never used. While your app development team should work toward an app that will be used repeatedly, good branding makes the most of infrequent app use. This is particularly true of novelty apps designed for people to show their friends. The Carling iPint app was a novelty app that let users “fill” a virtual pint, then virtually “drink” it by tipping it toward them. It’s not the kind of thing people are going to do repeatedly, but it is something that friends show off to friends. Great branding combined with a catchy, one-off novelty app makes the most of an app designed for infrequent use.
4. Because It’s Part of Your Overall Marketing Plan
Release of an app is one part of an overall marketing plan, which includes your website, social media presence, blogs, and offline marketing. Just as branding is built into the other parts of your marketing strategy, so should it be built into your app. When your business has strong web and offline branding, those other branding actions can be used to boost downloads of your apps. Likewise, good branding in your mobile apps can lead users to your other branding efforts, such as your social media pages. Every component of your marketing plan, including your apps, should boost your overall marketing and branding strategy.
5. Because It’s With Your Customer Practically 24/7
One of the greatest things about mobile apps is that they are with your customers practically around the clock. A phone is something most people have on them or within reach all the time. That means you potentially have access to your customers at any time of the day or night, and you should make the most of this access by ensuring that your brand is well-represented in your app. You never know when a customer will be awake in the wee hours and decide to do some mobile shopping. A well-branded, functional app ready to address their needs solidifies your brand no matter when it’s used.