Mobile apps to support brand strategy

Employing mobile apps to support your brand

You think advertising is enough to connect with your customers? Think again. In a rapidly changing, digitalized world with a crowded media marketplace, an expanding social media universe and empowered customers with dwindling loyalty you definitely need new ways to connect your brand with its fans, to convey your brand message and to engage and build loyalty. It turns out that one of the most popular – and potentially effective tools – are mobile apps to support brand strategy and to create an enduring customer relationship. They are the latest “game in town.” – And boy, they can be good.

Most smartphone users, according to one estimate, have downloaded over 50 apps. The more easy to use, context-rich and correlated with your brand they are, the more successful they will be. Sounds easy, doesn´t it? But in fact, launching successful apps is a tricky business. If not designed and developed well, they might end up being a disaster. More than one out of five apps is used only once – and then lowered into the data and file graveyard.

To be honest: There is no magic formula for the best app out there to help build your brand. And it might be easy for it to get lost in the mobile marketplace. But there are plenty of examples around to prove that creating engaging apps that wow customers and increase sales is no witchcraft at all. Almost 100 percent of the global brands have already launched a branded app. And some of them have received amazing kudos.

From L´Oreals Makeup Genius to BMW´s Remote App

One of the better known examples is the “Makeup Genius” app by L´Oreal. Their mobile app to support brand strategy uses facial mapping technology in order to turn your smartphone camera into a virtual mirror. After the camera has scanned 64 facial data points it allows you to virtually choose from a list of the brand´s makeup products, apply them and finally check how you look from different angles. You can also try out “complete looks” as you go.

Premium brand manufacturer BMW has developed the “My BMW Remote App” to remote control a variety of useful functions. The app not only allows you to lock or unlock your car. The owner can also locate the car if he or she forgot where it was parked. One can see the remaining charge of the battery or outside temperature. It also lets you preconditioning the heating system – and the charging times, if it´s an electric car.

Volkswagen tries to “add a little more fun to the ride” by distributing the “SmileDrive App.” The mobile app is designed to drive with any car, “even if it´s not a Volkswagen.” The app keeps track of things like distance, time and weather. And if you pass another Volkswagen with a SmileDrive, you get a virtual punch. With this app you can also earn stickers for special achievements like extra-long drives. You are able to share “Smilecasts” based on your trips with friends and peers.

Among the more instructive examples on designing a great app is the “iFood Assistant App” by global food giant Kraft. This mobile app offers loads of recipes for meals and snacks with ingredients produced by the company. You can also watch cooking videos. Moreover, the app offers recipes and shopping lists which aim at saving time in the grocery store while purchasing the fixings for the chosen meal. The video walkthrough and guided tour for the app (available on Youtube as well) is a good example on how to make sure the first time user experience with the app is a good one.

How to design an attractive app

How do I grab the attention of my customers and monetize on the app? There are some key considerations and suggestions that need to be taken in mind and followed if the app is supposed to create a good user experience, more engagement and – finally – loyalty. Make sure there is no hiccup when the app is downloaded and used for the first time. A guided tour – like the one on the “iFood Assistant App” – is a good idea. It should be easy to understand and be followed. There should also be a function for notifications, because the majority of users want to be updated and informed through app messages. It should be easy to share the app in order to really make it “social” and guarantee that people talk about it on the leading platforms. Furthermore, marketing execs know that over half of the community out there in the digital world love to make use of discounts or win something. So don´t forget to offer some kind of reward like the Volkswagen stickers. And it goes without saying that your app needs to have a visible and easy to grasp connection with the brand and its purpose. In this regard the “Makeup Genius” is a great example.

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