Why Do Most Branded Apps Fail?

angry-birds-iphoneMost marketers' reaction to the remarkable rise of the smartphone has been to launch their own branded app. But as a recent report from consulting firm Deloitte reveals, most of these branded apps fail.Although the fact that less than 1% of apps produced by brands are downloaded more than 1m times is hardly surprising, the fact the 80% of apps can't muster more than 1,000 downloads is profoundly shocking. Serious levels of marketing investment are clearly being wasted.So where are brands going wrong?Deloitte themselves espouse the theory that as apps become more popular, and their audience becomes more sophisticated, brands are having to 'up their game'. It's clear from their findings that many aren't.And branded apps have to compete with other offerings that have come from nowhere to become brands in their own right - the phenomenal success of Rovio Mobile's 'Angry Birds' is a prime example.Part of the answer may well be, as Deloitte suggest, that brands need to make greater use of smartphone features such as the camera and GPS to build sharing and location-based features into their apps to make them more engaging.However, the solution is probably simpler than that.It's that brands need to build apps that deliver genuine utility to users rather ones that are purely marketing exercises. And if they can't think what that utility might be, they should spend their money on something else.Too many brands have jumped on the app bandwagon without a proper appreciation of where mobile fits into their brand's interaction with its consumers.  As a result, poorly conceived apps are launched with limited utility that unsurprisingly fail to leap to the top of the app charts.The second big mistake that brands make is to think that the sudden appearance of their brand name in the app store is enough to see downloads soaring.  As with any new product, brands need to have a coherent and logical strategy for promoting their app - at appropriate times and through appropriate channels - if they want to maximise their download potential.The rewards for brands that do create successful apps are considerable - a constant and loyalty enhancing relationship with the consumers that have taken the time to download and use their app.But the potential rewards shouldn't blind marketers to the pitfalls - poorly conceived or delivered apps that can have a negative impact on their brand's equity.Too many create apps because they feel like they should and launch something of little use, either because they're 'brand' rather than 'consumer' centric or because there was little utility that the brand could offer via an app in the first place.An app does not equate to a mobile strategy. At best, it should form part of a broader mobile marketing effort.  But marketers should seriously consider before they invest whether an app is appropriate for their brand at all.

MobileGraham Painter