You had a great idea for a mobile app. You sicced your best developers on it. You back-tested and de-bugged six ways from Sunday. The thing works perfectly.
So, are you ready to go live? Not quite. You’re missing one of the most important mobile app ingredients: cohesive, effective branding.
According to PR guru Rosemary Plorin in her recent blog post, the best external brands accurately reflect internal culture. Your app needs to put your company’s best foot forward in a way that actively supports its mission and communicates its objectives to the app’s users — many of whom might be learning about you for the very first time.
“Branding a business, nonprofit or government entity isn’t all that different from selling a house,” said Plorin in her post. There must be “no stains on the carpet, no scratches on the walls, no strange odors wafting up from the basement — heck, no dust in the corners, even.”
So, what can you do to effectively brand your mobile app? Start with these six tips.
1. Don’t Overthink It
Can you explain your company’s brand in 50 words or less? 25? 10?
If you can’t, you need to take Plorin’s advice and write out the core values that define your company’s brand — and then make sure your entire team is working to support them.
If you can, great. That’s the base on which you’ll build your app’s brand. Always drive those messages. Anything else is extraneous.
2. Maintain Consistent Visuals
Most everyone is a visual learner at heart. Or, at least, a visual recaller. Great mobile app branding begins with consistent visuals: imagery, logos, navigation elements, colors, and the like. If your app’s users are familiar with your company, but can’t figure out who developed your app within three seconds of opening it, you haven’t held up this part of the bargain.
3. Test Internally
Your team might be drinking the collective Kool-Aid, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real people who can judge branding with an impartial eye. Before you roll out your branded app to the wider world, or even launch in beta (see below), test it on your team. Solicit anonymous feedback to get honest responses on which branding elements work, which don’t, and what you can do to improve your messaging.
4. Launch in Beta
In theory, this is App Development 101. In the real world, where deadlines and bottom lines so often supercede logic, it’s a bonus.
Here’s the hard truth: No matter how much extra it costs upfront, nor how much time it adds to your rollout, you need to launch every customer-facing mobile app in beta. (If you need a refresher, here’s a tip sheet from Google.
Though the risk of a catastrophic failure might be low in any given rollout, the downside of allowing a not-ready-for-prime-time app slip through the cracks because you failed to test it with early adopters is simply too great to ignore. And your app’s beta tests must include branding elements that may or may not wind up in the wide-release version.
5. Never Forget the User
It’s all about UX, even when it’s not. From end to end, your app needs to be designed with the user front and center. If your product is confusing or hard to use, the average user is probably going to give up before he or she uncovers its value — and it’s going to wind up doing your brand no good at all.
6. Limit Clutter
The “less is more” principle applies here. Even if clutter is irrelevant to your corporate brand, your app’s branded elements are more likely to shine through when you tighten up its navigation, strip out the superfluous stuff, and focus on delivering a cohesive, engaging experience that supports the image (and products) you’re trying to sell.
What are you doing to make your mobile app stand out?