Far too many digital phenomena seem to have the staying power of a cheap rocket firework on November 5th. They shoot rapidly upwards into dark night skies with a lot of noise and the promise of more to come, only to go off with a less than satisfactory bang and a shower of half-hearted sparks: then darkness once again.
So it comes as no surprise to see the Flappy Bird app go from an alleged US$50,000 of revenue a day within 10 months to simply vanishing from sight when its creator pulled the plug in the face of possible legal tangles with Nintendo…or that’s one story doing the rounds.
One minute you are so successful that anyone who can is creating copycat versions of your app – the next minute social media commentators are criticising you for creating a game that “sucks” and that lacks “ambition or creativity” (both genuine comments). You can hardly blame its creator Dong Nguyen if he did indeed decide to simply take the money and fly away.
Of course, in the world of B2B marketing, we’d all love to see a little bit of flappy action for our clients’ apps, wouldn’t we? If we got half as much traction or a genuine five-star reviews on Google Play we’d be chuffed to bits – or even a small slice of the purported $50,000 a day earned by Flappy Bird. Leaving all that to one side, just what should we be doing to create successful apps?
I believe there are two simple criteria for success. First, the functionality and role of any app should reflect some element of the brand it has been designed for. Maybe this seems a little too obvious, but far too many times apps appear to be merely an afterthought or bolt on, detached from the personality of the brands from which they sprang, and adding nothing to the user’s relationship with the brand.
Unless its purpose and the functionality are designed to support and reflect the values of the brand – and the world of apps presents a raft of unique ways to do this – its purpose in existing surely has to be questioned.
Secondly, it has to be indispensable – or addictive. That means its has to be useful, helpful, fun or delighting, created to make life easier and smooth away at least a few of the wrinkles that daily existence throws in the path of our otherwise smooth progress. With mobile devices now dominating communications on the go you need to ensure that your app is a “keeper” and resides on your customers’ home screen, where the brand will always be front of mind.
If your app passes the test of those two requirements, I’d say you were onto a potential winner. It may not be the next Flappy Bird, but certainly something which has a chance of achieving a more permanent place on the mobile devices of your customers – something which they’ll use – and when they do use it, they’ll think positively about your brand. And isn’t that what the flap and fuss is really all about?
Andrew Woodger is data and planning director at the Purple Agency