Have branded Apps really failed?

Huge buzz of late has seen the hot topic and debate around a subject that I personally believe has always been true. For many years the majority of branded apps have failed. I’m surprised to see this hit the press so late, as have with all honesty seen 1000’s of apps produced by brands, fail. It’s not just a tough or crowded market place to do with ratings or ranking positions, it really comes down to why an audience would use your application in the first place. It’s about product and its use, and at the end of the day, good product is awarded good ratings and reviews and can find success with the right route to market.

Barclaycard’s WaterslideExtreme

I see the example of Barclaycard’s WaterslideExtreme as an App that has achieved great success, but what measures this success? A huge amount of downloads came from this App, I have seen figures of around 12.5 Million downloads. This is a huge number, but what really quantifies this into success?

Has the App meant 12.5 Million new customers, or payments because people trust the brand more from this game? Has it really meant long-term brand value or greater profitability? I struggle to think so to be honest. It was a fad and as harsh as that sounds, it would have been forgotten about soon after the game was completed or became boring, and ended up on the shelf with thousands more.

It was hugely successful in terms of downloads, but without a strategy to link this back to the brand, it could be seen as a short term fix not a long term goal, and downloads alone are a long way alone for quantifying as a success metric.

The brands that are seeing success (which is quite a few), are making mobile work for them and their consumers. Making the consumer’s life easier, saving time and ultimately offering a service or product that is more convenient or better. If a product can save you time, it’s a no brainer, time is money and we all really want an easier life. The brands that are getting this right, filling a need and producing solid products are the ones who are gaining higher loyalty and ultimately profitability.

Mobile differs massively from online, although it shares many similarities in terms of advertising mediums (as ultimately mobiles are becoming the computers of tomorrow), they are very different entities and need to be understood to achieve success.

Adding value through mobile

When designing product, a communication/advertisement, or a strategy via the mobile channel, you must always think from the consumer’s perspective. Why would a consumer want to use your service and what is the benefit for them? Does it add value, longevity and does it fit into their lives? If it’s not easier, fulfills a need or adds value where yours or others products cannot, it will be passed by and rarely used if ever again.

A good paradigm for mobile can be seen below:

Understanding what a consumer’s needs are, the environment that they need to use your product in, coupled with producing a product that makes their life easier, will always more often than not lead to success. Mobile is fast becoming our first preference as a consumer, as it is always with us when we need. Now how can your brand position itself to fulfill that need when it is at its highest? From this point work back :)

The risk of getting it wrong

Games are a very different world, but from a branded App experience the mobile device can lead to an unrivaled brand loyalty. It must be utilised and designed for properly, if not, you are risking leaving your current and future consumers with a bad taste and second-guessing what your brand really stands for.

I have had the pleasure working with some great brands and the pleasure of advising them to huge monetary success via applications. This arena is far from dead, and brands still have a large part to play in it. As soon as they understand what it means to their business models, their consumers, their needs and create products that are usable, convenient and of quality, the better it will be for them, and eventually us all.

Mark-Anthony Baker works out of our London office.

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