How should my app be branded to complement our overall strategy?
The branding of your app is the visual look and feel, and tone-of-voice that combine to give your app its own personality. Branding sets your app apart from the competition and makes users fall in love with your product. Your branding efforts will vary depending on whether you are integrating with an existing brand or starting from scratch.
Branding to Match an Existing Visual Identity
If you are creating an app for a brand or company that already exists, you can strengthen the corporate brand and save resources by pulling visual elements (colors, fonts, copy, look and feel) from existing collateral. Expect to be flexible with existing visuals. Adjustments may need to be made to accommodate native operating system interface elements or to take advantage of plug-ins.
Branding a Visual Identity from Scratch
If you are creating an app that is not tied to an existing brand, you can create an identity from scratch. This may feel overwhelming, but adequate research will clarify your app’s personality. Thoroughly investigate users and competitors. Form a solid core brand proposition and tone-of-voice for your app which appeals to users and embodies its main function. All visuals and copy should support the direction you choose for your app.
Opportunities for Branding
Naming Your App
The name of your app should summarize its function. It should be easy to pronounce and spell and be memorable. Make sure the name stands apart from the names of competitors. Lastly, the name must be short enough to fit under the app icon on the mobile device’s home screen (about 11 characters for iOS).
A logo is an essential element of your app’s brand. Logos can be simple or complex, and include a logotype (text only), a logo mark (icon), or both. It is common to have several versions of your logo for different uses. Your logo will often be viewed on a mobile device, so be sure it looks clear and high quality at a small size.
Not to be confused with a logo, the icon is the graphic that will identify your app when you go to market and on user’s devices. Icons can be anything from a real-world object, to a logo mark, to an element from the app’s visual design. Icons usually have shadows, highlights, and textures applied so they look tappable and realistic. The app name, in text, is almost always displayed near the icon so it is not necessary to include your app’s name in the actual icon.
The splash screen is the full-screen image that appears while your app is loading after being opened. Although it is only visible for a short amount of time, the splash screen is an excellent opportunity to incorporate branding. The screen should be mostly visual and display minimal text.
User Interface (UI) Design
Whereas most branding discussed so far is subjective, UI design is objective. There is a correct way to structure the user interface of your app, but most interface elements can be customized to match your brand with color, gradients, and fonts. Details of the UI will depend on the target device and its operating system.
Website and Social Media Profiles
Website and social media profiles can create a stronger presence for your app, increasing traffic and search engine optimization (SEO). The visual design of your website and profiles should match the branding of your app and copy should be consistent. Make sure the tone-of-voice in any online social interaction complements that of your overall brand.
Things to Consider
Visual elements, tone-of-voice and marketing messaging should match across all platforms. This practice will make your app appear professional and trustworthy, will build user loyalty, and will increase brand awareness.
If there is a chance your app could grow into a suite of apps, create an identity which can be slightly modified to brand each app in the group. Consider names that sound similar, icons that share a uniting feature or effect, or a differentiating color for each app.
Invest in Your Branding
Rather than depending on your developer to design your app, or attempting to design it yourself, trust a professional with your app’s visual identity. Hire a designer or development firm with an in-house design team and make the investment in your brand. It will pay dividends.
This post is an excerpt from our book, Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps. Want to learn more? Download your free copy from the iBookstore and gain a valuable business perspective on building mobile apps.
Don’t have an iPad? You can download the PDF for an equally informative yet slightly less interactive experience.
Interested in industry news and trends?
Sign up for our monthly email to get the highlights on technologies and innovations impacting mobile strategy.