Corporate Eye

Does Your Brand Need a Mobile App?

iphone mobile appsIt seems like only yesterday that brands were scrambling to get Twitter profiles and Facebook Pages. Now, those things seem ancient as brands are realizing that mobile is the future (a future that’s already here).

Brands in every industry are launching branded mobile apps, and executives are demanding that brands get on board the mobile app train because it’s the cool thing to do. It doesn’t matter if a mobile strategy has been developed for a brand. Everyone else is doing it so few brands are confident enough to ignore the mobile movement.

But does your brand really need a mobile app? Is developing a mobile app where you should be investing your budget today?

At its core, the answer to those questions is very simple. If you can create a mobile app that provides meaningful or interesting information in a manner that is useful to your consumer audience, then a mobile app can help your brand. However, simply creating an app to say that your brand has one is a mistake that’s unlikely to deliver positive results in the long-term.

Of course, it could be argued that in order to stay relevant, brands need to have mobile apps because consumers expect them in 2012. While it’s true that brands should have a mobile presence since that’s where consumers spend more time every day, it’s not wise to make the leap to investing in a mobile app without doing your legwork first.

For example, you need to conduct some research and find out what consumers want from your brand when they’re on-the-go. Are there specific types of information or content that you can deliver via a mobile device that can add value to consumers’ lives? A mobile app isn’t an ad. In other words, don’t use a mobile app to regurgitate marketing messages and sales pitches.

Furthermore, you need to analyze your competitors and understand what they’re doing in the mobile space. You certainly don’t want to fall behind or launch a mobile app that’s not unique. Spend time analyzing brands beyond your industry as well. Your mobile app should be creative and innovative. While such an app might not exist in your industry yet, you can find inspiration from brands in other industries that have found creative ways to bring brand experiences to mobile consumers.

Remember, mobile apps are focused on delivering content to an audience whenever and wherever they want it, but branded apps should also leverage the real-time nature of mobile devices. Deliver something valuable and timely via a branded mobile app, and you’ll be on your way to driving positive returns.

What do you think about branded mobile apps? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: renatomitra

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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