The Branded Application…another take

There’s a brilliant observation written by Mac Randall of Interactive Cognition concerning the success of Nike+ at Cannes the other week.

He describes the site as a ‘Branded Application’, a product. But what is a Branded Application?

“Traditional campaigns focus on entertainment to deliver a message,” writes Teknision, ” while Branded Applications provide a valuable service in order to deliver an emotional connection with a brand.”

So, Branded Applications offer valuable services which provide an emotional connection to a brand. Essentially, you’re providing something useful to your audience and at the same time you’re offering them opportunities to purchase some of your brand’s products.

As Mac goes onto say, “Brands that choose this path will be dramatically set apart from those that are still intent on interrupting the consumer wherever they are. Finding clever ways to yell “buy more” is a trite form of communication and is hopefully cruising towards its demise.

Branded Applications pick up where most websites fall short. The branded application is much deeper than a flashy microsite because there is an opportunity to excel where other experiences fall short. Applications like Nike + take the power of the web, the idea of community, the growing ability to build tools online, and run with it (yes, that horrible pun intended). The experience is sleek, useful, engaging, and most importantly begs to be revisited time and time again.”

Whilst I don’t agree with the last sentence – I actually find the site cumbersome to use for the most part – I do agree with the value it offers.

Nike Plus
I’m interested in seeing the Nike+ application evolve for a different reason to Teknision. I would question how much elastic limit the Nike+ application has for more value to be bolted on to it. Applications by their very nature do one thing well. I believe Nike and RG/A are in danger of dilluting the value of the Nike+ product they’ve created by extending its functionality rather than taking what they’ve built and making it more stable, more reliable and a more solid product overall.

Rather than bolting additional functionality onto the Nike+ application, making it more unwieldy, light-weight applications which do one thing well and interconnect via an platform-like API – much like a suite of themed applications – would be better. Unfortunately, design implimentations like that only occur when you’re not working to the same timeframe as your marketing calender but instead for the benefit of your consumers and the long term.


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