Products Not Gimmicks

Apps now are what websites were back in 2000. Everyone wants one regardless of how it fits their brand or product. They’re a must-have in any business strategy and one which companies are throwing tens of thousands at so as to have a “presence” in the mobile space.

But for every well thought-through app which is genuinely useful, there are at least a dozen gimmick apps with a tenuous link back to the brand. Carling’s iPint was probably the most famous of the latter and helped kick off the gimmicky branded-app trend back in 2008. Fast forward to 2012 and Budweiser have one-upped them with an app that lets you hold a miniature FA Cup. Embedded content: http://www.youtube.com/embed/5bLfD6YPppc?rel=0

Knowing the potential of the platform, it pains us to see thousands of pounds and scores of hours thrown at apps which a user has on their device for less than a minute and and then deletes forever.

We’re not guilt-free when it comes to digital gimmicks. Our very own Mouth Off™ was as gimmicky as iPint. And like iPint, it managed to go viral.

We even turned it into a branded app by retrofitting it for the Cartoon Network, releasing a Ben 10 version of it.Embedded content: http://www.youtube.com/embed/pjxf1tvvKlQ?rel=0

But after having done well on a gimmick app, we started to see that apps could be much more than a giggle around a pub table. The combination of processing power, uninterrupted Internet connection and awareness of context in today’s devices means apps are capable of extending a brand’s role into a customer’s day-to-day life.

Nike+ GPS is perhaps the best example of this. By using a combination of GPS and accelerometer data, the app allows users to track their runs, give encouragement and challenge their friends, all values which resonate with the Nike brand. Nike-Plus

An app that’s carefully considered and serves defined need in alignment with the brand objectives is always going to be “stickier” than an app which isn’t. A gimmick, no matter how cute, is not going to have the same stickiness as an app that your customers rely on as a tool.

Taking a user-centric approach to apps and making sure they offer genuine utility, rather than deliver short-lived relevance for a marketing campaign is the best way to take advantage of the opportunity this brave new digital world offers.

A word or two of advice: if you’re thinking of developing or commissioning an app, work closely with the businesses and the customers you want to reach, and make sure you use these devices as a platform to build products on—products capable of truly engaging customers for much longer than a minute-long giggle. Lest your branded app end up here.