Best and worst practices for building branded apps

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Your branded app checklist

Mistakes like the ones mentioned on the previous page are easy to avoid. You just need to be aware of why you're doing everything you're doing as you create the app. To make sure that happens, I always go through this five-point checklist to ensure my clients are on track.

Why are we building this?
What's the ultimate business goal here? Is it as simple as creating buzz or driving more traffic? Or are we trying to shift perception, increase loyalty, or introduce a new product line? The actual reason itself is far less important than actually having one that everyone in the room can agree on.

What's our success metric?
Number of downloads is never my measure of choice; it's just too easy to game. You want your metrics to tie back directly to your goals. They need to answer the question, "Why are we building this?"

What unmet need are we looking to meet?
Users need a reason to download the app. "Because it makes me smile, and I like things that make me smile" can be a valid reason, but it never hurts to do a little research to confirm the consumer need before the project starts.

Are we putting enough time and money against user experience and design?
Companies that think nothing about spending $400,000 to produce a single TV commercial regularly balk at spending $400 for a few hours of user experience expert or design advice. Given how critical these two disciplines are, you can file that under "penny wise, pound foolish."

How do we plan to promote this?
As I noted earlier, the "Field of Dreams" approach no longer works. You've got to aggressively promote your new app, and using paid media should definitely be one of the approaches you consider. You've spent time and effort creating the app. Why not spend some money to let people know about it? But whether your plan is for paid media, earned media, or word of mouth, you do need to let people know about it.

So there you have it: all of the reasons you shouldn't build an app, and a list of checkpoints if you decide you should. The key question to keep in mind should always be "why?" As in "why are we doing this?"

If you can answer that credibly and successfully, your chances for success are quite good.

Alan Wolk is managing director of social media strategy for KickApps.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.



Liz Zedo
Liz Zedo September 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Definitely apps are not ads...but what about ads in apps? TechCrunch recently reported that apps have been downloaded over 4 billion times and there are ways to monetize off of this phenomena. iPhone ad tags for example, which runs ads before or after the app is used.

I will be posting a blog about this on Monday 9/27 at Make sure to check it out!

Marketing Manager

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb September 22, 2010 at 10:44 AM

This is an awesome article Alan. Great insight and I am going to save it for when I tell a client truthfully what they want to do in the App world and what they should do are two different things. Tell IMedia you single handedly were responsible for me registering. Mobile is near and dear to me. I just ended phone shame and have had a Droid2 for less than a month. I also like Big Picture view points. I will give you three.

1] Agencies/Developers that create Apps are incentivized to picth them to Brands as a way of increasing billings even if they are wasting the Brands money.

2] I have now confirmed after downloading a bunch of apps that many sit unused and probably will be uninstalled at some point.

3] The Android Marketplace has 70,000 apps. That is 65,000 too many. 99% I will never know exist (you mentioned this that you need to tell people the app exists, technically using advertising/promotion outside the App store, ie print, email, social etc). If Android has 65,000 too many doesn't Apple have 145000 too many?

This morning I decided to add a Flashlight App and did a search. Android has 12 of them.

Jeff Cannon
Jeff Cannon September 22, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Great writeup. It does go back to the basics, even when in branding of the who, what, where, when, why and how of the brand, the product, and the business.

Another call to think before running forward.

Think Cannon