10 top tips on mobile app branding from experts

How can I build a brand that resonates with my users, makes noise in the market, oozes personality, and conveys my brand message unmistakably?

Well, that is a question every company or individual has at the ideation stage, and it is important to understand the things that make or break apps.

In today’s mobile app market scenario, communicating your app’s brand through its design is a great way (read: shortcut) to get into your audience’s heads. Here are 10 pro tips to help you ensure your app branding is done right. Read on.

Tip #1 — Focus on utility and functionality

Your customers do not wish (or expect) to browse through your entire website when they use your app. The utility is of paramount importance here. The app should have a well-defined set of features that provide utility, and the ease with which it can be done is where the functionality aspect comes into the picture. Here are a few examples of well-designed apps that are a great combination of utility and functionality:

  • Chipotle — Lets you order without having to wait in a queue.
  • Starbucks — Allows you to buy coffee through your phone.
  • Swiggy — Orders and delivers food from around the city to your location.

Tip #2 — Take a user-centered approach

Yes, you’ve heard that a million times before, but it needs to be said again. The user is king. And it is important to understand and acknowledge that you are not your user. Your target group may not feel the same way about something that you like. Empathy for what the user’s needs, preferences, and motives are is the best way to determine the direction of your app. If your app is consistent with your audience’s expectations, half the battle is won.

Tip #3 — Make it an absolutely smashing visual treat

Conduct thorough market research to study the other apps in the same category and analyze the negatives and positives. Take cues from them when they seem to be nailing it and learn from their mistakes or shortcomings. This will help you explain to your designer and developer exactly what you want.

Tip #4 — Go to a typography expert

A design house or a professional graphic/UI/UX designer can really get the ball rolling on this front. The magic of type is that it gives you a simplistic means of establishing the visual hierarchy of the elements in the app. Readability is as important as the beauty of the fonts you use.

Tip #5 — Avoid cramming it up

Using white (empty) spaces in the visual layout to draw someone’s attention to the areas that matter is a great tool to ensure good readability, content prioritization, and aesthetic value.

Here’s what Jon Tschichold has to say about it:

White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.”

Strategic utilization of empty spaces can improve the UI and UX of your mobile app by huge margins.

Tip #6 — Brand it, sell it

Milton Glaser has said, “The logo is the entry point to the brand.”

So you have established your brand’s guidelines, and have the entire style sheet in place? Leverage your logo, tagline, typography, icons, colours, pictures, and illustrations in the app. This will help convey a uniform brand/business message across platforms.

Tip #7 — Avoid clichés

Typical stylized stick figures, light bulbs to denote ‘great ideas’, jigsaw puzzles to represent problem-solving or teamwork — we’ve had enough of that. Spend some quality time with your design team to brainstorm designs and elements that will stick.

Tip #8 — KISS

Like it is in the case of music (writing a simple song is tougher than writing a slightly complex one, musicians have admitted), designing something that is unique yet simple is a tough task. Adding loads of bright colours in the design or spicing things up by playing with different sizes and fonts is very easy — but too much of anything is bad for your app. Having a cluttered app or one that has a complex design can confuse your customer, leaving him dissatisfied. Follow the Keep-It-Simple-Silly rule to make the app more engaging and user-centered.

Tip #9 — Opt for thoughtful reduction

John Maeda says, “When in doubt, just remove it. But be careful of what you remove.”

Remember, the more complex/confusing/restricted/flashy your app idea, the higher the chances of it not flying through. App design for the modern user should be simple, unforgettable, and relevant. If you think there are redundant chunks in your app that you can do away with, don’t wait to see what the users think about it. Go ahead and remove them.

Tip #10 — Start strong

Before a user engages with your app or the content therein, he will interact with your app’s splash screen, sign up or sign in page, and the homepage. These three elements become highly significant for you in terms of design, since the user might jump to conclusions about the app based on what he sees here. Keep on-boarding experience of app real quick & simple.

The most important tip is to experiment and have the sensibility, flexibility, and courage to make changes if something is not working. Go all-out-crazy with your storyboards, adapt to the latest technology, weave a relatable story, and test different layouts and screens.

Remember, effective branding doesn’t come easy — it takes time, effort, research, expertise, and constant testing.

Don’t hesitate to shoot your queries on the blog or to understand more about user-centered design techniques.

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