Guide to Mobile Apps for Brands – Part 2

In Part 1 of the Guide to Mobile Apps for Brands series, you learned why you might consider developing a branded mobile app, a mobile website, or both. Once you decide to develop a mobile app, you need to conduct some market research so you can put together a mobile strategy that will help you reach your brand goals. If consumers aren’t interested in your mobile app, then your investment in developing that app is little more than an exercise in wasted time and money. Your first step in taking your brand to the mobile audience is learning what they want and need.

mobile apps for brandsWhat do consumers want from your brand when they’re on the go? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you’re not ready to start developing your mobile app.

Frank Defino Jr. of Mobile Marketer explains, “Focus on your user over your brand. Too often companies will develop an app for themselves without considering the user ultimately determines the success of the app.” In other words, if you skip the market research step and create an app without consumer input, your app is likely to fail.

Your research should focus on learning what consumers want from your brand when they’re on the go, keeping in mind that they might not even realize what they want. Therefore, you need to ask probing questions that evoke feelings and reveal information about how, when, why, and where consumers use their mobile devices. Working backwards this way can help you identify what kind of app you should create to make their on-the-go lives easier or better.

Consider what your business does and how your brand interacts with consumers outside of the mobile space. Are there ways you can bring that experience (or parts of it) and more to consumers through a mobile brand experience? What daily activities do your target customers participate in on a daily or weekly basis that you could associate your brand with in some way? For example, a travel brand can provide weather reports (this is popular for ski destinations) and current events information.

starbucks mobile appStarbucks created a mobile app that ties directly into the ways that consumers interact with the brand every day. The app allows customers to pay for their purchases, track their Starbucks card balance, send Starbucks funds to friends as e-gifts, and more. Meanwhile, Kraft has had great success developing mobile apps that offer recipes, cooking tips, and more that indirectly tie into Kraft products.

At the same time, you need to analyze your competitors to understand what they’re offering mobile customers. You don’t want to copy your competitors. You want to offer something better. Furthermore, research and analyze popular branded apps across a variety of industries and start brainstorming how you can apply similar experiences to your mobile app.

Finally, research doesn’t end after you identify your mobile app strategy. You should conduct consumer research throughout the development process to ensure the app you’re developing meets their needs and expectations for your brand. Let consumers test the app and provide feedback, and continue gathering feedback and opinions after the app is launched. The mobile world moves quickly, and your app could become outdated just as quickly.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Guide to Mobile Apps for Brands series where you’ll learn about creating a strategy for your branded mobile app. In the meantime, be sure to read Part 1 if you missed it previously, and learn how to determine if you need a branded mobile app or not.

Image: Sean MacEntee, Hisakazu Watanabe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as and She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of, an award-winning blog for business women.