Branding is the heart and soul of your app and can help to make you stand out in a densely populated crowd.
Apps like Monzo, Mailchimp, and Duolingo are experts at branding but all offer a different take that represents their business's personality. As you work on your own app, keep in mind that branding is an important factor and we're going to break down some great branding examples to help you make the most of yours.
Monzo is one of those brands that sets itself apart from the crowd. In the design industry, it’s what we like to call a disrupter. Meaning, it aims to be original and goes against the grain of industry trends, all the while reinventing its relationship with its customer.
Visually, Monzo is a brand that breaks the rules of what a traditional bank has to look like. Whoever said corporate companies had to be boring? From its shocking coral orange credit cards to its multi-coloured logo, Monzo is a hard brand to put in a box and categorise. One thing is for sure, it is an instantly recognisable brand that is playful and approachable.
But where Monzo really excels is not the aesthetics. Monzo has changed the way corporate institutions speak to people. Very early in their conception, the founders pledged to discover exactly who their customers were and try to speak to them in a way that makes them as easy to understand and as inclusive as possible. In design, we call this Tone of Voice.
Banking has always been a sector that speaks in jargon and industry speak, Monzo set out to demystify this and make banking accessible to a broad range of customer personas. They have even added their own glossary of words and sentences that should be used to speak to their customer.
In the Monzo ecosystem, ‘Assistance’ becomes ‘Help’, ‘Commence’ becomes ‘Start’ and ‘Request’ becomes ‘Ask’. Check out their brand guidelines for possibly one of the best ‘Tone of Voice’ documents you’re ever likely to lay your eyes on. If it’s not the kind of thing you’d say in person then it doesn’t make the cut. It’s a big good riddance to formal business speak and we love them for it.
Mailchimp is the kind of brand that is hard to ignore. Whether you have an interest in email marketing or not, most internet users have come across this chirpy and cheerful brand at some point.
Character design and logo design share a lot of similarities. Both try to create an instant reaction from their audience and provoke an emotional response. This has always been the purpose of good logo design, so incorporating a character into your brand, although difficult to do, the reward is greater if you get it right.
And Mailchimp does a fantastic job of bringing their brand to life with their character “Freddie’. There’s something very nostalgic about this little monkey (Yes, I know a Chimp is technically an ape). I like to think of Mailchimp as the Mickey Mouse of the Marketing world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the latest rendition of their logo is subconsciously trying to tap into the Disney-inspired childhood most of us led. And who can blame them, Disney is a strong brand to align with.
Aside from its unforgettable brand mark, one of the things that has always struck me about this brand is its ability to maintain the essence of its early start-up feel. Throughout Mailchimp's rise to prominence, they have unapologetically made a conscious effort to keep that same identity. Instead of watering their brand down as they became successful and corporate, they have written their playful approach into everything they do.
In a notable evolution, the studio has ushered in a more substantial iteration of its logotype, coupled with the infusion of Cavendish Yellow – a hue described by Mailchimp as reminiscent of "sunshine and optimism". This vibrant shade now takes the forefront as the principal brand colour, harmonizing with the introduction of spirited illustrations and animations, crafted in-house by the hands of skilled artists.
In recent years, a crafted design "framework" has been lovingly designed to empower creative expression, all while upholding a sense of continuity through uniform typography, an iconic logo, and a bold colour palette. Within this structured framework, a world of creativity unfolds, encompassing "playful" and "flexible" illustrations and imagery, allowing for an elegant dance between artistic ingenuity and brand coherence.
Duolingo is one of the most successful brands in the world and it's no surprise that in the course of its existence, they have accumulated a staggering 300 million downloads and have, as of August 01, 2023, been valued with a net worth of $6.37B. But how did they do it and how pivotal was their brand in their march to success?
Duolingo’s unique brand quality is its ability to be invasive without annoying its customers or destroying its image. It’s very hard to be annoyed with a chirpy green owl when all it wants is to help you learn that language you always said you had no time for.
The gamification of this brand is second to none. To the point that it has been baked into everything they do. How many brands can send multiple notifications a day and not have you instantly throw said app in the bin or drastically amend your push notifications? A quick cursory glance at my notification settings reveals only Uber, Google Calendar, Deliveroo, WhatsApp and Messenger accompany my little friendly owl with notifications all on. How did this little guy gain so much trust and access to our everyday lives?
Well, first of all, it really helps if you have a great idea for a product. Learning a language has always been secretly on the agenda of most humans. Whether we succeed or not, thanks to Duolingo, learning a language is now just an app download away. Having a great product is always going to help your business but a bad brand can kill a good business. Match the two together and you’re in business.
‘Personality’ is one of the key brand pillars of Duolingo. They really know who they are and how they should be perceived. Duolingo have made it very obvious who they are and in their guidelines they outline 5 key aspects; Inspiring, inclusive, Can-do, Curious and Quirky. They even make the effort of trying to comms nice to non-brand people by comparing themselves to celebrities, a type of transport and specific songs.
The final output is a consistent brand that can communicate across multiple channels all the while maintaining that trademark tone that we have all grown to recognise and love.
So, to sum it up, your app's branding is like its unique signature in the app crowd. Just like Monzo, Mailchimp, and Duolingo have their own style, your branding makes your app stand out. As you keep building your app, remember, branding isn't just a background player—it's a star. Now go ahead and add some branding magic to your app, and see what you can achieve.
If you want our Award-Winning Design team to help with your branding, we are just a call away.