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4.2 Laws of Branding

Learning Objective

  1. Choose an appropriate name and color scheme for your App

Law of the Generic

There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the iPhone store. Picking a unique brand name for your app is difficult. It is a good idea to try to avoid names that are easily confused with others. For example for a photography app it might be a good idea to avoid the word camera in the name. To illustrate the dangers of generic names consider that Camera Flash Deluxe is easily confused with Camera Flash & Zoom.

In general, generic names are the most easily confused. If your brand name can be confused then it will be difficult to differentiateA marketing term that refers to the ability of a brand to stand out from the crowd. your brand in the eyes of the consumer. It may be no accident that very few of the top grossing photography apps actually have camera in their name as is illustrated below.

The law of the generic is a special case of the concept of singularityThe idea that a brand’s power depends on its uniqueness.. Many of the laws of branding are built upon the concept of singularity. A brand’s power is driven by its unique qualities. The following analogy, written by Al and Laura Ries,Al and Laura Ries are marketing professionals and coauthors of 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. describes what a successful brand should entail:

“From a business point of view, branding in the marketplace is very similar to branding on the ranch. A branding program should be designed to differentiate your cow from all other cattle on the range. Even if all the cattle on the range look pretty much alike. A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity. It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product. Can a successful brand appeal to everybody? No. The same concept of singularity makes certain that no one brand can possibly have a universal appeal. (page 7)”

Law of the generic in action. Below are the top 12 grossing photography apps in October, 2010. Note very few have camera in their name.

Table 4.2 Top 12 Grossing Photography Apps

Rank No. App Name Price
1 Hipstamatic $1.99
2 iMovie $4.99
3 Color Splash $1.99
4 Pano $2.99
5 Pro HDR $1.99
6 ReelDirector $3.99
7 AutoStitch Panorama $2.99
8 CameraBag $1.99
9 iVideoCamera $0.99
10 Vintage Video Maker $1.99
11 Camera Plus Pro $1.99
12 FX Photo Studio $0.99

Below are those apps that begin with the word camera and their sales rank.

Table 4.3 Other Camera Apps

Rank No. App Name Price
8 CameraBag $1.99
87 Camera Flash Deluxe $0.99
167 Camera Flash & Zoom $0.99
128 Camera for iPad $0.99
90 Camera Fun Pro $0.99
19 Camera Genius $1.99
181 CameraKit $1.99
156 Camera Magic $1.99
11 Camera Plus Pro $1.99
135 Camera Pro: All-In-1 $0.99
94 Camera Vault $1.99
63 Camera Zoom $0.99

Law of Color

According to Al and Laura Ries: “A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitors. What color is a Tiffany box? It’s that distinctive robin’s-egg blue. All Tiffany’s boxes are blue. If Tiffany had used a variety of colors for its boxes, it would have lost a marvelous opportunity to reinforce the brand name with a distinctive color. Basically there are five colors (red, orange, yellow, green, and blue) plus the neutral colors (black, white, and gray).” (pages 134-135)

For icons we would go a step further and recommend using an image that is also different from the competition. For example, a camera app whose icon is a camera lens is not very original. Almost all the brands that start with the word camera also use the color black (as in a black camera lens) — as if to say, “...and if you didn’t get it the first time...” How different really is one black camera lens than another — especially at icon size? Few of the top selling camera apps show a black camera lens. And if it is not original then it does not differentiate, which means customers may have trouble finding your app in the iTunes store.

Key Takeaways

  • Establish in the mind of the user that there is no app on the market quite like your own.
  • To establish your brand, avoid generic names that can easily be confused.
  • Pick colors distinct from the competition.

Questions and Exercises

  1. What would be an appropriate name and color for an app that monitored multiple vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, blood glucose, and so forth?