Take a walk through your city, and you’ll probably find a Starbucks on almost every corner. Take a look through the phone of the closest passersby and you’ll likely find the Starbucks app. OK, not every smartphone. But consider that the brand’s app has been downloaded 10 million times and that that number will likely grow.
Some of the reasons: The caffeine behemoth enables customers to use its app to search for nearby locations, pay for their morning-coffee fix and send friends caffeinated gifts.
Starbucks knows great apps aren’t just for selling, though. They’re also tools for delivering ongoing value and for making a brand essential to users. In fact, apps communicate important information about brands. So, rather than using your own business' app as an avenue for a hard sell, think of it as an opportunity to educate consumers. The more they know about your company -- from your values to your client services -- the more confident they’ll be working with you.
Herer are some ways you can build an app that supports your brand without overselling it:
1. Represent your values.
How you brand your app directly reflects your company’s character. Authenticity inspires confidence among customers and prospects, so weave your unique voice throughout the app’s messaging.
2. Identify your expectations.
Decide what you want to achieve with the app. If you’re trying to educate customers and earn their trust through high-value content, design your app around a great reading and navigation experience. If you’re focused solely on driving sales, you’ll need to build in a number of opportunities for customers to buy your services.
3. Check out the competition.
Complete a thorough analysis of your competitors’ apps before you design your own. Your app should have a unique design, interface and brand voice to distinguish your culture and services from everyone else in your space.
4. Consider the consumer.
Make it easy for users to access information that interests them. Remember: The app presents an opportunity to educate customers and showcase your brand’s authenticity and values. You’re already on your users’ radar, so use engaging, valuable app content to stay there.
Think about when and why people use your app. Build it around their motivations, and design it by seeing the app through their eyes. What’s the easiest, most intuitive way to move from point to point? What’s the logical flow of information? Create an experience so seamless that users will return to the app for the content and the ease of use.
5. Don’t sacrifice the user experience for the brand.
Provide as much information as possible without interfering with the user experience. If customers use your app to learn about your services, they don’t need distracting logos and gimmicky features to remind them who you are. A restrained, intuitive UX will lead them through the sales process.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon branding altogether; there’s value in placing small logos throughout the app. The key is to drive home your message without being obnoxious. Consider placing your logo on a navigation bar that slides down when users touch the screen. The logo will appear only when customers are navigating the app, and it won’t interrupt the reading experience.
Sketch out wireframes and compile content flowcharts before hiring developers. Entrepreneurs often struggle to communicate their visions to their development teams, and as a result, their products miss the mark. A clearly articulated plan helps you get the app you want.
6. Tell your story.
People want an emotional connection with the brands they use. Storytelling helps you create those connections, as it gives users a reason to return to your brand time and again.
In a study of user loyalty at two Danish banks, researchers found that customers engaged more often and for a longer time period at the bank where they felt the most emotional attachment. Given the choice between your company and an equally qualified competitor, a compelling story could be the deciding factor for customers who are on the fence.
Apps play an important role in a brand strategy. The key to app success is to enhance your brand image by providing value to customers and creating positive associations with your company. Use your app to build relationships, and it will become a powerful sales component.