Rethinking iPhone Apps As A Branding Tool

iphoneWhat if every time someone picked up their iPhone (or other mobile device) they saw your logo?

It’s possible through mobile phone applications  or apps.

Apps range from the helpful like The Weather Channel, to the ridiculous like Pee Monkey (and no, I did not make that up).

They have transformed how we judge and use mobile devices.

Apps are also becoming big business.  In fact, Apple apps are fast approaching 1 billion downloads.

So how does the average business benefit from apps and justify development costs?

The answer: top of mind awareness.

Let’s just say a pest control company creates an app that lets you identify common household pests. The downloadable app is handy when those little black bugs are swarming in your kitchen, and a reminder of a company’s brand when the user sees your logo on his phone 20x per day. More importantly, when you have a pest control problem, what company would be top of mind?

This can work for so many industries: electricians, attorneys, plumbers, fitness centers, etc. And chances are, creating an app is more affordable than a sustained advertising campaign. (One company I recommend for iPhone app development is A Clever Twist.)

An app can be a valuable – and unique – tool for building your brand, so consider it as one aspect of your overall branding efforts to keep your name out in front of potential customers.



Filed under Marketing Tactics

4 responses to “Rethinking iPhone Apps As A Branding Tool

  1. egilbertsen

    Andy – thanks for writing, and being consistent with your posts!

    This is a risky strategy for a few reasons:
    1) Why would I want a pest control app? The world is saturated with iPhone apps, and more are launched every day. If you build it, it better be incredible, or they won’t come.
    2) While iPhone apps can be created inexpensively, I’d argue that the cost of producing an iPhone app that is download-worthy can be quite high. (Businesses need marketers like you to figure it out, and designers/developers to create it.) Not cheap.
    3) Once the app is built, you’ve got to promote it, which takes money too. If your app is free, you may get more downloads, but is it worth the loss in $X.99/download in revenue?
    4) iPhone market share, while nice, is still somewhat limited and the competition is gunning for them. The growth in open platforms and alternate app stores make iPhone’s dominance less secure.

    Your thoughts?

  2. Hey Andy – that’s such a good idea that in fact, we did it for Orkin, with one small twist: instead of an app, we built smartphone-optimized mobile site. (Find it here: ) A mobile site allows for easier updates, works on more phones, and CAN use native phone functions if you design for them.

    The other piece of success here is marketing the app itself. The app store is like a crowded bazaar; most brand’s utility apps won’t have the buzz to rise to the top without significant off-site marketing effort.

  3. Thanks for the feedback Eric. I really appreciate it.

    To answer your question, I don’t feel that is a risky strategy considering the amount of advertising dollars I have seen thrown away since they produce no discernible return.

    It is not everyone, but I feel there is significant opportunity for some companies.

    If I’m an electrician and create an app (not limited to iPhone) that provides instructions on simple electrical work like changing a light switch, that is a useful tool. I promote it on my website, ads that I am already doing, my trucks, and if I want I can be more aggressive.

    However, once my app is downloaded my logo becomes a billboard on their mobile device helping generate top of mind brand awareness purely out of repetition of seeing the logo.

    There certainly are costs involved as there are with any communications tools, but I my goal for this post was to get people to look at apps as having benefits beyond $X.99 revenue generation.

    I have worked with many service companies that had been paying inordinate amounts for advertising that produced a negative return the cost to develop an app doesn’t seem that much of a risk.

  4. Robert,

    Your Orkin App is terrific. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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