Branding. You know, that thing you and your agency of record spent millions of dollars on so that everyone knows who you are – your name, your product, your essence.
So if branding is so important, why are so many brands getting it wrong with their mobile apps? Today we’ll talk about mobile app branding and see how we can work our way out of this mess.
Mobile App Brand Guidelines
It can’t be stressed enough: Mobile App Brand Guidelines must be established. Your guidelines should have the same clear creative rules as your brand’s standard style guide including: color palette, logo usage, naming conventions and font. Above all, the guidelines should be platform-specific and always current in the rapidly evolving mobile platform landscape.
Providing guidance for mobile apps ensures they’re not orphans in the plethora of advertising and marketing tools used to attract, engage and retain your customers. It’s critical the guidelines are endorsed by the CMO and other key organizational leaders. Once supported the guidelines should be officially disseminated to all teams, agencies and development partners. They should then be reviewed and enforced in all creative reviews and prior to any app release.
Icons and your logo
Integrating your logo into your icon isn’t a requirement for your app. But if you have an easily recognizable logo, it’s a great way to gain immediate recognition from your customers. Google does an excellent job of designing an icon that fits within the construct of an app icon and conveys the meaning simultaneously (hello, Starbucks, Target, Redbox).
Off-brand and one-off madness
Why are some brand’s releasing wildly off-brand and brand-tarnishing apps? Walking Dead Chop Shop by Hyundai is, hands down, one of the worse brand apps I’ve ever seen. Not only is it a poorly made and an utterly un-compelling game but there’s no product info. And there’s no way to request brochure, locate a dealer, schedule a test drive or even link to the Hyundai website.
There is also a host of odd, one-off apps from brands that sponsor events and partner regularly with other brands. I strongly recommend against releasing these awkward, event-specific apps. It takes a lot of marketing time and money to drive installs, and apps best serve long-term lower funnel customers. I recommend removing these apps from the stores and diverting events based marketing to other channels. If there is a compelling reason to make a limited time app (We made one for the Oscars with a $1 million contest) then it’s essential that this app get removed from the store the day the event expires.