Many different factors go into making the decision to hit the "download" button on an app from the Marketplace. Prospective users are looking at things like your product's benefits, recommendations from peers or positive reviews, pricing, and more.
We know branding has an immense impact on a customer's decisions, particularly when comparing two similar products. But if you don't have any experience with marketing, deciding on your brand's key messaging and brand guidelines can seem like an intimidating task.
Don't worry, there's good news: smaller teams may actually have an easier time with branding. There's fewer moving parts and stakeholders who want to be involved, and smaller organizations can move quickly and adapt to changing customer demands or market dynamics. Once you know what your brand is, you can leverage it to influence every single part of the customer journey – from consideration and purchase to adoption and loyalty.
We interviewed Eli Mishkin, who has spent 15 years in the branding and creative strategy industry and currently serves as the Jira Brand Lead at Atlassian. Here's his advice for Marketplace Partners who are ready to develop their brand guidelines and create exceptional, unified customer experiences.
Start your brand building journey
Fewer than 10% of B2B brands say they have consistent branding – so if that's you, you aren't alone. But even if you haven't done an ounce of dedicated branding, you already have a brand. Your brand exists anywhere your products and marketing interact with customers. "Good branding starts by showing up consistently," explained Eli. "Even on a bootstrapped budget, you have the tools to make sure your brand shows up consistently across email, website, in-product, and beyond."
As a first step, audit your brand experience. Look for places where your brand shows up publicly, including on social media, your website, and the Atlassian Marketplace. Then, consider who your competition is. How does your branding compare? What are their key messages and how are buyers responding to them? Afterwards, see where you can unify the experience to make it more consistent and compelling.
If your brand isn't in the market yet, consider doing a simple brand development exercise:
Why does your app exist? Try to look beyond features and product functionality. Why did you start the company? What problem or challenge were you trying to solve?
Who is your audience? Be specific, since brands who try to appeal to everyone could end up appealing to nobody. Or, think about it this way: who will your first 1,000 fans be? These are the folks who will champion your brand to others, so it's critical to reach them.
What benefits do you deliver to users, and what's unique about your brand? Here's where you can get into features and product stuff. Be sure to layer in the emotional benefits – for example, does your brand make people feel more connected or feel smart?
How does your brand come to life? Define your brand's unique personality, usually expressed through things like voice and tone. Are you funny, a little quirky, educational? This also influences how your brand looks – the design of everything from the logo to the UI.
Connect the big picture with the little details
Now that you've looked at how your brand shows up everywhere in the world, you can connect the big picture experience of your brand all the way down to your app. "Once you know the why of your brand, and what it is, you can use it to influence every single part of the customer journey," explained Eli, "from consideration and purchase to adoption and loyalty."
For example, even if you just have one Marketplace app, you may have a lot of real estate to cover. There's the app listing page, your own website, your social media profile photos and banners, and even the images you post on social media. If your brand is mostly the product experience, be sure the detail is consistent: make sure you have the same color scheme, a favicon matches or compliments your logo, and so on.
How to create unique, branded customer experiences
Now that you've got the hang of branding, what else can you do to cement your brand into people's minds? Here's a few tips and resources to help get you on the right track.
Leave room for surprise
No matter how straightforward your product is, real people use and buy your product. That means there's room for moments of surprise and delight. Look for authentic ways to use more personality in your messaging and small graphic design elements that make people think, feel, and remember your brand.
Show up consistently
Even on a small budget, you have the ability to make sure your brand shows up consistently across email, website, in-product, and beyond. You can achieve this by creating brand guidelines for both written and visual content, and creating a content calendar so your entire team is on the same page.
Here's a few resources we love to help with consistent branding:
Hubspot Content Calendar
Creating a content calendar can help you align your messaging pillars to specific pieces of content, and help keep you accountable for publishing on a regular schedule.
So, what does your brand stand for? This deck of cards is an easy way to discover your brand's qualities while having a little bit of fun at the same time.
Not sure what to include in your company's brand guidelines? A good template can help you get started.
Not a graphic designer? You don't have to be — Canva has free and paid templates you can use for social media posts, banners, and more.
What does good Marketplace branding look like?
So, what does great Marketplace app branding look like? Here's a few examples of Marketplace Partners who really nailed it.
Jexo's project management apps help companies work together better in Jira. Their green gradient in their logo is featured throughout their website and on their social media, making it easy for current and prospective users to recognize their brand. Their black background with confetti carries through their website and into their event branding as well, including this LinkedIn banner advertising an upcoming project management summit.
Jexo also does a good job of clearly and concisely presenting their company's value proposition: "easy work management". This phrase is highly visible across their marketing materials, making it clear to prospective users what they're getting.
Appfire helps users migrate to Jira Cloud or Data Center. Their consistent use of color gradients on black backgrounds, iconography style, and their letter "A" logo helps viewers easily identify their brand.
Branding is as much about look and feel as it is about tone. Appfire does a great job of being friend, straightforward and humancentric, clearly pointing out what they do ("Atlassian apps") and what it's for ("solv(ing) big challenges"). The use of the second person in the CTA button is inviting, drawing viewers in by empowering them to find their own solution.
Adaptavist, creators of ScriptRunner for Jira, use easily identifiable human figures and a consistent color palette. These figures appear in different scenarios across their brand material, showing the versatility of Adaptavist's customers – whether they're giving a presentation or juggling work, Adaptavist is there to support them.
Making a great brand is a lot like making a great product.
Companies like Jexo, Appfire and Adaptavist achieved branding success by doing three things extremely well:
- Offering something distinct and valuable to customers.
- Communicating their brand clearly, consistently, and in a compelling way
- Listening to customers and the market, and evolving as needed
Once you feel you've ticked these three things off your to do list, sit back and look at the usual signs of growth to measure success – metrics like customer referrals, positive perception (good reviews and testimonials), and customer engagement (such as web traffic, app downloads, number of social media followers). If you stay dedicated, and the right branding will help you connect with your target audience and grow your customer base in the long term.
Unified brands are part of the future of app development. Read more about the trends that are coming to the Marketplace in 2022 by downloading our latest report.