How do you infuse your brand into a custom app? [App Feature Scribble]

A while back, I was watching a documentary on the Château de Chambord. They were looking at its very special and complex architecture trying to find hints of Leonardo da Vinci’s involvement, and so I got to see the master’s notebooks again. I’ve always been fascinated by da Vinci’s notebooks, full of scribbles and sketches, sometimes even one on top of the other, as if a better idea suddenly popped into his mind. I got inspired to start my own public notebook of sorts, here on this blog, to discuss small ideas or features I think of from time to time.

I’ve just learned that there’s an interesting conference coming up in Toronto on personal branding – DYPBTO – that I am unfortunately going to miss this year. But it got me thinking: to all of you who will be attending, or who are thinking about their personal brand right now, I say once you’ve kind of figured what your personal brand is, let’s talk about how I can help you build an app (web or mobile – or both!) that becomes an ambassador of that brand!

We have a few pets here at home (solopreneur, me? I think not! I have a bigger team here at home than in many small businesses I’ve worked for!) and so I have been to vet appointments more often than I dare to admit. It always pains me to see how poorly designed their record keeping software is, and so I’ve been re-writing their platform in my mind for many years now.

What’s that got to do with branding and an online app you say? Well, one vet I keep imagining is one that sets-up shop in a cute little village. Not the suburbs – further than that. As such, her clients are usually not as concentrated around her clinic as they would if she were city-based. To her, it’s about one-on-one contact with her clients, but also being as helpful as she can in delivering her services. People come to the clinic for a number of things, from buying pet food, to medical consultation or renewing a pet’s prescription. But it’s usually a long way from door to door, and so they used to buy pet food and toys only once in a blue moon, when they were there for an appointment and were running low at home. So she decided to go online, of course, and created an online store to sell her goods. She even hired that new local delivery service that started in town, to offer home delivery. So now people can order online, and stop on their way back from work to pick up their order. Or simple have it delivered for a small fee.

The opportunity I see is actually two fold. She’s all about making life easier, and she wants to really take care of her patients – because empathy is especially strong in this one. So….

The scribble

Any good vet will tell you it’s not a great idea to leave food for your pet accessible all day long. Better to give them meals, just like we get. And that allows you – heck, incites you – to measure their portions. So your 20 pounds bag of dog kibble will always pretty much last you the same amount of time. And that’s just the type of repeating event computer systems love and are great at tracking. So why not automatically send a gentle reminder to your clients a week or so before their current bag of kibble runs out? Better yet, have a one-click re-order button right there in the email! Imagine this: you check your email in the morning, get a gentle reminder you’re probably running out of chow for your chihuahua “DarthVader”. You click the “Re-order” button in the email, and bam – order placed. On your way home tonight, you can just go by the vet and grab your bag of food. No death grip from DarthVader for you tonight!

But here’s a second neat feature for our vet’s online service. We can renew our own prescriptions over the phone or the internet now, in most pharmacies. Why not do the same for our pets? Why couldn’t clients have a login to their pet’s file, and re-order medication online? If the underlying records-keeping app is built correctly (aha! I did say they are not, so this likely is the reason this doesn’t exist yet. Any vet interested in revolutionizing their business, come talk to me!) all the checks could be done automatically (any renewals left? Does the pet need a new health check first? etc…) and the order could be placed and all the customer has to do is come pickup their medication. Or get it delivered. Whichever. Heck, the same re-order feature could definitely be applied here too because if your pet’s food is not rationed, their medication surely is!

These are the type of things you can do to bring your brand and your brand’s values online, through an app that acts as an ambassador and facilitator. It’s not rocket science, it’s just extending what you do and love and how you do it to other spheres your client can interact with. Every time they use your app, they will organically be reminded of your brand values: you care about them, and you want to make their lives easier.