When you first think of branding, you might think of logos, colors and fonts. These are all important aspects of a brand, but your brand is much, much bigger than these elements alone. Your brand is how people perceive your company or product. It’s what people think of you, how they feel about you and the reason why they support you. It tells your story and differentiates you from the competition.
For all of these reasons (and many more), branding is extremely important. From the start of your event until the end, every touchpoint needs to tell your story. Inconsistency can kill your brand, sending a disruptive and confusing message about who you are and what you can provide your attendees. Your app is no exception.
How to design a branded event app
Start with brand identity elements: logo, brand fonts, colors, as well as copy tone and voice. If you have event-specific themes, creative assets and key messages, these should also be pulled through the app.
When designing an event app, it's important to balance branding with usability. While there are general rules of thumb when it comes to app architecture (based on what makes it easy to use), app customization to incorporate branding is relatively easy to do. At MeetingPlay, app customization is one of our strengths, and we have found a variety of ways to work within the proper architecture of the app that allows our client’s brands to shine. Based on our experience, here are some things to consider (and ask about when you talk to an app provider).
The homepage of an event app is key. It’s the first thing users will see after logging in, so branding it to your company and wowing your users with striking visuals are equally important. At MeetingPlay, our framework allows different types of navigation elements on the homepage, so it's always customized.
Within your navigation, consider factors like the number of navigation items in the list, custom naming of navigation items as well as icons to choose from, colors and fonts. For example, we’ve had clients rename “attendees” to a phrase more consistent with how the company refers to their employees. You do want to remember that this is how your attendees will know how to navigate your app, so while everything is customizable, be cautious about getting too creative. You want to make sure attendees understand the navigation. For example, we attended a recent event where the decision was made to rename the “Networking” tab to be something more creative. However, it confused many attendees.
If you customize the homepage and navigation, these choices should be carried throughout other pages of the app as well. When your subpages are peppered with the same custom fonts, header colors, button colors, and more, it makes for a cohesive experience.
Where to start, no matter the state of your brand
Having gone through this process with clients in the past, we typically find our client's branding in one of three scenarios.
If you don't have many creative deliverables, you might say you're in a creative drought. And that's ok! In some instances, we are given nothing more than a logo to work with to theme an entire mobile application, and at MeetingPlay, we make this work. We start by extracting all colors from the logo to get a basis on what can be used in the design. Then we research the brand, and if a style guide is not present (it usually isn’t in these scenarios), we pull inspiration from the company website.
From there, we search for stock photography that relates to the brand to try different design patterns (e.g. what does the logo look like overlaid on an image, what images compliment the event theme, etc.). In the end, we have no trouble creating a great-looking app that is clearly influenced by the brand or conference logo.
If you're an established brand, you know what you want. App designers are given a decent amount of content, including marketing materials used for the event, different types of logo treatments, image guidelines, and more. These apps come together with ease. Your app designers are essentially translating everything you've already been done for the event into an app design. These are our favorites to work with, because we can take something a team has already created, and show it to them in a different way they may not have expected.
Many Fortune 50 or 500 companies we’ve worked with have a strict set of brand guidelines that we must follow when designing their mobile app. The benefit of working with MeetingPlay is that our framework allows for all of the guidelines to be followed. In rare cases, these clients require a certain type of navigation that actually requires us to change our very own app architecture — if they want the navigation to slide up from the bottom of the page, for instance — but we make it happen!
A word of advice on the “creative drought” scenario: when details about the event are scarce, remember to make sure the app appears as a cohesive part of the brand and event. Alternatively, if you have marketing materials to promote or assets displayed at the event, these can be used to develop an event app that looks like a natural extension of the event. When an event has an established theme, it’s easier for the app to reflect it. For any of the scenarios above, MeetingPlay can make them all work, and deliver a customized, on-brand, engaging app. Drop us a line for a free demo!