Build an App: Build your Brand

People love apps.

Clients love when people love their apps.

People love apps that work. 

Coding and designing an app to be compatible across devices are complex, technical skills. Thankfully, there are many platforms to make this accessible to media content-creators, leaving space for marketers to think about what they often think about best: who (is is for; which brands and which consumers)? What (is the purpose of the app)? Why (an app and not a website/blog/video etc.)? And how (do users access it/does it get made/does it look/feel/does it work)?.

People love apps

But not always. People love apps when they have a reason to. It is important that the app has a purpose for being. People should want or (preferably) need to download and use the app to achieve a specific goal or solve a particular problem. Otherwise, why make the app?

There have been a number of studies that speak to this theory. Universally, studies find that branded apps tend to have a more positive impact on consumers when they focus on the user. What this means is that they are informative rather than, for example, gamified, as games tend to draw focus towards the device, not the user (Bellman et al. 2011, pp. 199).

Another problem for marketers is the general success of the apps. The Apple App Store and Google Play offer a fast-growing selection of items to download. Ensuring a new branded app is noticed when there are several hundred thousand others available probably requires a separate persuasive advertising campaign.

…[and] being downloaded is only half the battle. According to a Nielsen study in the U.S. in 2012, consumers keep more than 40 apps on their smartphones but use only a handful on a daily basis. Marketers have discovered that getting fans to download their branded app is a fairly empty exercise if the target audience never actually uses it. The next challenge for branded apps is to make them so useful that they remain on a consumer’s short list and keep being used – which is more likely if the app is informational.

— GfK MIR. Brand Communication with Branded Smartphone Apps: First Insights on Possibilities and Limits. 2013.

Clients love when people love their apps

If you think that mobile apps are solely for big brands like Walmart and Bank of America, you are wrong. More and more small and midsize businesses are following the mobile trend, understanding that an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendl website.

In fact, these days you’ll notice that many small businesses you interact with in your everyday life have their own dedicated mobile app… These companies are ahead of the game when it comes to taking their marketing to the next level.

Melanie Haselmayr, Here’s Why Your Business Needs it Own Mobile App, Forbes. 2014.

The marketing industry is promoting branded mobile apps as one of the most effective ways of improving customer engagement, brand loyalty and visibility, and they advocate a branded app’s potential of creating a direct marketing channel (Haselmayr 2014, Palleri 2014).  The findings of Adobe’s Digital Marketing Report (White 2013)  support the case for branded apps:

— Tyler White. Are Mobile App Users More Loyal?. 2013.

Clients are catching on. Whether they are hearing the advice of he marketing sector or not, we continue to see small to medium to big business-branded mobile apps pop up, everywhere. Clients want these apps to be used.

People love apps that work

…hybrid retailers with an online presence need to ensure that their branded mobile app performers well in having a Pleasing Interface and be Informative.

— Peggy Choong, Paul S Richardson and Alyssa Fazio. Leveraging the Power of Branded Apps: An Exploratory Study of Salient Performance. 2016.

I’d argue that a balance can be struck between the two (“Pleasing Interface”/usable and “Informative”) and that that balance isn’t concrete. The ratio is open to interpretation. The studies discussed in this post, for example, quantitatively concluded that information-based/informative apps are more likely to engage users than gamified content (Bellman et al. 2011; Choong, Fazio, Richardsion 2016; GfK MIR 2013, . As an example of a rebuttal, have a look at this Corona Beach Break app:

— Pereira O’DellCorona Beach Break: Find Your Beach. 2012.

This post has explored the positive impact an app can have on a brand’s connection to their customers. Knowing this, it is important to apply similar rules that one would to a website: usability is key. Translate this to an app, bounce rate becomes rate of deletion. If users have taken the time to download your app, open it (perhaps, sign up/log in) and then find that it is clunky or unusable, their frustration with the brand, I would argue, will likely be intensified in comparison to bouncing a landing page. In this way, the emphasis on usability for mobile apps is absolutely amplified. You must get this right.

Works Cited

Bellman, S., Potter, R. F., Treleaven-Hassard, S., Robinson, J. A., & Varan, D. (2011, November). The Effectiveness of Branded Mobile Phone Apps. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 25(4), 191 – 200.

Choong, P., Richardson, P. S., Sauer, P., & Fazio, A. (2016, December). Leveraging the Power of Branded Apps: An Exploratory Study of Salient Performance. Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 18(7), 53 – 64.

GfK MIR. (2013). Brand Communication with Branded Smartphone Apps: First Insights on Possibilities and Limits. GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 5(2), 25 – 27.

Haselmayr, M. (2014, November 17). Here’s Why Your Business Needs Its Own Mobile App . Retrieved from Forbes:

O’Dell, P. (Director). (2012). Corona Beach Break: Find Your Beach [Motion Picture].

Pelleri, D. (2014, March 13). How a Thoughtful Mobile App Can Supercharge Your Client Retention. Retrieved from Kissmetrics:

White, T. (2013, November 06). Are Mobile App Users More Loyal? . Retrieved from Adobe Digital Marketing Blog:

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