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As of July 2022, there were 3.57 million apps in Google Play, compared to 2.56 million apps in Google Play and 1.85 million in the App Store in Q1 2020, so startup apps are faced with significant competition. With such a large number of apps flooding the market, you need to find ways to make yours stand out. A powerful brand can help you differentiate your app from the other apps in your category. A good brand that’s well-marketed can raise awareness, establish trust, and create a memorable experience for customers.
Here is a checklist for app branding to make sure you maximize the opportunity to stand out in the crowd.
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What is a brand, exactly?
It’s difficult to define “brand” because the concept is so abstract.
David Ogilvy, dubbed the Father of Advertising, has defined brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” And Marty Neumeier, a well-known expert on all things branding, has said, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”
Branding provides identity and gives customers something to connect with and to relate to; it reflects what people think about a product and how it makes them feel when they interact with it.
To get more specific, a brand generally includes a name, logo, design, tagline, brand voice and other features designed to create an overall customer experience when people interact with it. Branding supports marketing efforts and should be considered at every stage in the marketing process.
When we think about the branding of a company like Starbucks, for example, we know what to expect. We’re familiar with the company’s color palette and font, and this carries through to everything they sell and everywhere they sell it. When you download the app, you generally know what to visually expect before you even use it for the first time.
This is why companies use branding — to create a consistent and positive experience that customers will be drawn to.
App branding checklist
Incorporating branding into your marketing sets the stage for the user experience, from the first time a person finds your app in the App Store or on Google Play. To build a brand for your app, you’ll need to consider several elements.
Here’s a checklist to ensure you hit all the important areas:
App icon and logo
An app icon and logo are interactive brand images that represent your app on multiple platforms. Icons and logos are visual symbols that may be the same as one another or different, but they should always be consistent. You’ll want to make sure they are simple enough to be seen, but identifiable. App icons tend to be symbols or letter marks, (think: Pinterest, Groupon and Skype apps) and will carry through brand colors and font.
All content within the App Store or Google Play Store pages, as well as within the app itself, should follow consistent branding and style. The words you choose and the voice you write in are just as important to your brand as your logo and app icon are.
It’s important to be consistent with your branding through your copy, both in the app and through other communications (i.e. email announcements, social posts, etc.)
The tagline you choose for your app should summarize your app’s core benefits to your target user, as you’ll use this tagline in other marketing channels, like your website, landing pages, email communications and social media.
Graphics are key to your app’s branding, since most apps are used on a small device — namely, a cell phone. Your written content may be limited by a character count, so the graphics become key to your branding. Everything from your app icon and logo, custom illustrations, branded interactive elements and photos should be on-brand, offering a consistent experience both in and outside the app. All marketing channels should consistently portray your app in the same way.
The landing page you share pre-launch should also reflect your app’s branding. This webpage has a lot of work to do, especially for mobile-only products. When executed correctly, a landing page establishes the vision for your app and clearly articulates your target audience’s pain points, and more importantly, how your app will solve those problems.
The techniques and interactions you use to introduce new users to your app are also part of your branding, and this messaging carries your branding through the use of graphics and the copy. These details help to support brand loyalty and shape a positive user experience at an important entry point.
Social media aids with brand awareness and recognizability, and can be a powerful marketing channel for direct sales and promotional campaigns. It has a tremendous influence on how your brand is perceived, and should be considered a vital part of the branding process.
App branding is one of your first tools to create a positive experience with you target user, from the very first interaction a person has with your brand. When consistent branding is used within your app and throughout all of your marketing channels, you’ll find it’s an effective tool to create and foster brand loyalty.
Originally published June 12, 2020. Updated Aug. 19, 2022.