Building the App Brand

On average, a consumer needs to see something at least seven times before they take action and buy.We are constantly blasted with information on our cell phones, tablets, and computers, so the number could easily be more than seven in many cases. That’s why consistency in brand and message is so important. Everything from icon to name to website needs to work in harmony to send and reinforce a consistent message.

The App Icon

Let’s start with the first thing your potential users will ever see-your app icon or logo. The importance of getting the logo/icon right really can’t be overstated.It’s the first filter users will face; their first choice to click or move on. As already explained, you may want to invest in an experienced, qualified designer who specializes in app icon design. This is especially true if you want prospects to click on and buy your app. You’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into development. Making one more investment if it means more people will take a closer look at your app is definitely worth it, don’t you agree?

That said, here are some basic guidelines to remember in app icon design:

Don’t Include Words – That’s what your name is for. Your icon is a graphical representation of everything great about your app. Remember all the blood, sweat, tears and dollars you poured into that app? Is simply repeating the name in graphical form the strongest representation? Push yourself or your designer further. You want an icon that piques interest and arouses curiosity. That’s more effectively done when words aren’t involved.

Be Simple – You have only a 57 x 57 pixel plane to graphically convey the very essence of your app. Less is more in this case. A single image with ambiguity is better than a cluttered image loaded with information. After you draft your initial icon cut everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Be Detailed – Simple doesn’t equal plain. Once you’ve settled on a single image as an analogy, flesh out the image’s details to bring it to life. Look at the Angry Birds Star Wars icon. It’s certainly simple. It’s just the Luke Skywalker bird above the words “STAR WARS”. (I know, I said no words, but remember these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules.) Is the icon plain? No! Look at the detail in his hair, the furrowed brow, and the determined look on his face. Simplify-then bring to life.

Be Consistent – Consistency between the app’s design and the icon’s design is a mark of professionalism. You want the app and icon to use the same colors, styles and overall design. The screenshots should match up nicely with the icon to create a consistent appearance. It will help you look like the kind of professional who has been dominating the app charts forever.

Be Unique – This is one of those guidelines that can’t be defined. There are no rules to being unique. This is, however, one area where a professional designer who specializes in app icons can help immensely. An experienced pro will know what’s out there and what will help you stand out.

The App Name

After the icon, the name of your app is the next thing your potential users will see. Wait, we named the app in the beginning, right? Sort of, but it is a good idea to consider that a working title used for development. When it comes time to sell the app, you might want to reconsider.

A lot of app developers go for descriptive and creative names. That’s fine-especially for games, but your name also has a function.

Be Concise and Direct – Potential users will only see the first 19 characters of your name when they’re browsing the app store. This means you want to get to the point as quickly as possible. If you have an app related to running or jogging, use some variation of the word “running” as quickly as possible.

Function Over Form – For non-games it’s better to be clear rather than creative. In a perfect world your name would be crystal clear and would also be mind-blowingly creative. We do not live in a perfect world. You will probably have to sacrifice one for the other. If you are developing a non-game, always err on the side of clarity over creativity. If people don’t understand what your app is, they will not buy it.

Consider Search Terms – Your name can act as a keyword. The app store will scan and index your titles just like your keywords. There’s some anecdotal evidence that titles even count more than keywords. If you can be clear, creative, and use a highly relevant keyword or two, you are on the path to a great app name.

Avoid Name Confusion – Don’t use names of other apps. This should be common sense, but it happens accidentally. Apple is concerned with piracy and blatant rip-off attempts. Therefore, they monitor duplicate naming carefully. If your name is too much like another, Apple will cancel the offending part of the name as a keyword. If your app doesn’t appear when you search for your app title, it may be because your name is too similar to another app.

Supporting Website

Often developers wait until the end of development to set up an accompanying website for their app. Don’t make this mistake. Set up the website as soon as possible.Remember to strive for consistency in the look and feel between logo, App Store presentation and the app website.

On the App Store you are very confined in the way you can market your app. On your own website you can communicate your app in any way you want; more detailed descriptions, more screen shots, anything you can and want to do to get your message across. The App Store allows you put a link to you website; something that has proven to be highly effective. And of course, you can put a link on your website to your spot on the App Store so viewers can purchase it. Do you see how important it is that your listing on the App Store and the website work in tandem to sell and promote the app?

To further your success, here are some key elements you’ll want to include in your website:

App Name – Icon Up Front – This should be fairly obvious. You want to leverage all that time you spent choosing the right name and refining your icon. Put them right up front so they’re easily remembered. They should be the first things visitors see upon entering the site.

Screenshot Slider – As you develop the app, build a slider to showcase graphics from the app. In the GENERATING BUZZ section, we’ll discuss how you can use the addition of new slides to entice visitors to your site.

App Video – Record a video of the app while you’re using it and display it on your site. There’s no better way to show your potential users what they’re getting. The easiest and most common way to include video is to upload a video to YouTube then embed the video on your webpage.

Value Statement – Remember your one or two sentence value statement that perfectly explains what your app does and why it’s so great? What better place for it than on your home page in big bold letters? After the value statement you can go into more specific details about the apps functions and features.

Call to Action – Why do you want people to visit your site? To buy the app, correct? So many app websites have videos, slideshows, user reviews, and more, but forget the most important feature – a call to action! You need a button that reads “Buy the App” or “Get the App” or “Download the App.” If your app hasn’t launched yet, use this button to collect email addresses and notify people when the app launches.

A well-designed brand with consistency between icon, name, and website will give your app a professional appearance. It also puts you well ahead of many of the apps on the market. In the next section, we will go through a step-by-step plan to leverage your brand and generate pre-launch buzz.

If you are not a website designer then this might be another area where professional help could really come in handy. If you want to be taken seriously by prospective buyers and do well in searches related to your app, you need to have a serious website. A strong online presence is also an important way to generate pre-launch buzz. Let’s go into that in a little more detail.

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