Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘apps

Decoupling From Your Brand

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The reality of today’s inter-connected economy is that all brands are reliant on a variety of partners to be able to deliver their brand proposition. For an airport to provide a good experience, the airlines have to be on time. For my car insurance to live up to their promise, the independent tow truck operator has to treat me well. These factors are often out of their control.

For a long time, the mobile phone brands were relatively free of this problem. While the likes of Nokia and Blackberry had to rely on the network carrier, this was rarely a differentiating factor for them.

The rise of third-party applications has drastically changed the brand proposition for mobile phone manufacturers and turned the brand model on its head. Mobile phones aren’t just appealing for the gadget you buy, but also because of the thousands of third-party applications that are available, any of which can drastically increase the value of the device to a consumer.

The manufacturers can no longer just market their brand to consumers. They must provide a compelling brand proposition to the army of developers around the world that impact the value of the handset. Apple has been a leader with this, as can be seen by their huge lead in the number of third party apps available.

People still buy the iPhone because they want the iPhone, not because they want a certain iPhone app. But that may change. People used to buy a Nintendo for the Nintendo but now choose their video game console largely based on the games available.

While the iPhone brand is all-powerful today, it could quickly become dependent on more powerful app developers.

What do you think? Will apps become more important than the phone itself?


Written by benwisebranding

March 5, 2010 at 6:14 am

The Branded App Industry Matures

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A recent article from BrandWeek says that branded apps are having more trouble gaining traction among users, looking mostly at iPhone apps. It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach Apple’s list of the top 100 apps, a common benchmark for success in this space. If history is any indication, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to brand marketers.

Many new categories are founded by small, nimble companies that can quickly meet an emerging consumer need. Initially, the early adopters will jump on the new services but as the market grows it will inevitably become more difficult to stand out. The bar quickly gets raised for brands trying to differentiate themselves.

While this may frustrate some brands, it is music to the ears of consumers. The novelty of mobile phone apps is wearing off and users are looking for services that add real value. Brands will be forced to provide consumers with increasingly useful products.

Another example of this can be seen in Facebook groups and fan pages. Only a few years ago it was the norm for Facebook users to join almost any group they were invited too but any interest in a given group page rarely lasted more than a week. Today, users are more discerning in what groups they will join, focusing on the groups that are of significant interest to them and can provide users with actual value. It is exactly the same thing with iPhone apps today (although some Facebook apps are still around that should have disappeared long ago!).

Once a brand has proven the capability of making a useful app, they will be able to leverage their brand and attract users to new apps more easily – a simple brand extension. However, brand extensions are most successful when done from a strong core brand. For now, they should focus on branded apps that create exception value in order to develop the strong core brand they need.

What do you think? Will mobile phone users be more selective of their branded apps?

Written by benwisebranding

February 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm