Making mobile personal

Making mobile personal
Smartphone applications need to be personal to find App Store success

As the smartphone revolution continues, the demand for mobile applications has burgeoned. A bombardment of apps, big and small, jostle for precious screen space, but it is only those that amplify a brand through personal engagement and valuable experiences that will find App Store success.

With nearly a billion people set to own a smartphone by 2015, downloading and using an average of more than twenty apps, current predictions have mobile internet usage overtaking desktop usage next year. But despite the app uprising, like any other saleable object, apps need to be unique and useful to sell.

An app should take all the reasons why a customer loves a brand and amplify it. Some of the most successful apps on smartphones today haven’t actually introduced new ideas; they’ve managed to create useful and personal extensions of the brand.

Amsterdam office AKQA developed ‘Heineken Star Player’, a free mobile app that allows football fans to interact in real-time with Champions League games, highlighting Heineken’s 17-year partnership with the League. The app works by opening up ten minutes before the game kicks off, syncing automatically with the time on the TV. Users are given chances to predict whether either team will score in the next 30 seconds, answer ‘pop quiz’ moments when play has stopped or predict the outcome of free kicks and corners; with all correct answers earning points. Users can then compare their progress with the Star Player community or with a select group of mates in a mini league. This brilliant mobile app amplifies all the great things about watching football, from the tense moments to the big calls from the couch, without compromising enjoyment.

Simplicity is key for launching an app that sticks. Along with a seductive and stimulating design that allows for fluid navigation for users, creating a mobile app should be about offering an intimate, useful experience for someone that truly benefits their everyday life. 

DDB Group New Zealand recently launched a mobile app ‘Secret Fishing Spots’, that helps New Zealand’s oldest manufacturer of life jackets, Hutchwilco, hold on to their customers. Hutchwilco are New Zealand’s oldest manufacturer of life jackets. The only problem is their customers keep dying. Fishermen don’t tell anyone where they’re going when they go fishing. So DDB came up with a free iPhone app that allows fishermen to log their secret spots, without giving them away to everyone. Then if they don’t come home, a loved one can log on and see where they like to go, and send the co-ordinates straight to Search and Rescue. The app also allows fisherman to keep photos of their catch and boast on Facebook, making it a mutually beneficial tool for both the gloating fisherman and concerned family members.

Nike have championed the idea that successful apps should positively affect people’s lives, offering that something extra to make life simpler or more enjoyable. Nike’s Nike+ Running app allows users to map their runs, track progress and give ongoing motivation. It tracks distance, pace, time and calories burned with GPS, giving users audio feedback as they run. Users can even garner peer support by posting the start of their run to Facebook and in turn hear real-time cheers for each like or comment they receive. They can even activate a Powersong from iTunes to help blast them towards a personal best. Nike has drawn on the insight that their customers are motivated and driven, and would make valuable use of a tool that could help them achieve their sporting goals faster. Through this app Nike has further cemented itself as the brand for building healthy lives and has continued to innovate with Nike Fuelband.

While there are no guarantees that an App will be successful, great apps make a brand more personal, whether people use them for practical help or just a burst of entertainment. 

Aaron Goldring is Creative Director at DDB Group NZ.