How to Brand and Design Mobile Apps

Adults are spending an increasing amount of their time with mobile media. In 2010, the average consumer spent a mere 20 minutes of each day on their mobile device. By 2015, however, this number grew to 2.8 hours -- this was the year that mobile media took over a majority of digital consumption. It’s no surprise, then, that the average user is becoming more and more reliant on phone apps to guide their mobile experience. Smartphone users spend about 90% of their phone time on mobile apps. Designing a great mobile app involves many interlocking factors. The app itself needs to be fully functioning from a design perspective; it needs to ultimately solve a problem (or several) for the end user; and it needs to be branded well so that consumers choose it to begin with out of the many thousands of apps, both free and paid, that they can potentially download. We’ve covered many of the essential elements of great design and branding before in our blog. Here’s the important basics any mobile app is going to need to have. How can you better brand and design mobile apps for 2016?

Interaction Design: Keeping User Experience at the Forefront

Whether you’re launching a restaurant finding app or a dinosaur hunting game, many of the key elements of a great mobile app come down to ensuring that the user experience is a smooth one. What matters?


When it takes 20 minutes for a user to understand how to navigate your app and its features successfully, this is a sign that your design isn’t very intuitive. Although it’s good to stand out from other apps, you still want to make use of familiar patterns in order to make the transition smooth and not frustrating for the user. As Design for Founder points out, “don’t reinvent patterns.” Rely on them.


A phone is a small screen, and an app is not meant to replicate the experience of visiting a website. Pare down your offerings so that what remains is clean, easy to understand, and leads the user to the right place. Eliminate redundancy.


Give users feedback so that they know, for example, when they haven’t fully completed a task through your app (perhaps paying for what is in their shopping cart, for example). The feedback should be as unobtrusive as possible.

Branding: Simple and Powerful

It’s important to remember that among a host of competitors, your app is going to be essentially unknown. It’s important to have cohesive, clear branding across platforms so users know exactly what you’re about.

An easy to remember icon

At the end of the day, whether a user clicks to download or open your app or not can all come down to how easily understandable your logo is, and how much it stands out. We’ve given a number of tips on logo design; they basically boil down to keeping it simple, keeping it colorful, and keeping it original.

Understanding how your product is utilized

Oakley may be best known for their sunglasses and goggles suited best for extreme sports like surfing and snowboarding, but their Surf Report app focuses specifically on equipping surfers with the latest information about swell directions, tides, surf heights and more. A great tie-in that reinforces their brand image.

Consistency and interaction across platforms

Your app’s appearance and offerings, from the icon to the layout, should not be wildly different from your website, your storefront, etc. Not only should your mobile app be consistent across platforms, but you also want to make it easy for users to switch between platforms and to promote your app. As Think360Studio points out, word-of-mouth is often the “make it or break it” for determining which apps become successful or not. There are about 1.5 million apps out there, with more being designed and launched every day. Therefore, hiring an experienced mobile app designer is key to standing out from the other mobile apps.