Superapp - 2

Branding the Desktop Superapp: More Than Just a Name

When it comes to branding your new superapp framework, what are the processes? How do you get buy-in from stakeholders? What makes it “stick”?

In the evolving landscape of software design, one trend stands out: the rise of the desktop superapp. A superapp brings together various software applications into a unified platform that makes them seem like and behave like they are a part of a single application (also known as interoperability). The desktop superapp integrates various standalone desktop applications into a unified interface so that, to the user, they form a comprehensive all-in-one tool that facilitates and optimizes all of the functionality they need for their workflow (see first article in the series, The Rise of Desktop Superapps). Picture a platform where applications seamlessly share information and everything you need is within reach, neatly integrated into one ecosystem.

Given its power to revolutionize workflows and increase efficiency, understanding the superapp is essential not just for developers and designers, but also for their target audiences. To effectively market the superapp, it is essential to give it an identity that makes it stand out from other applications by creating a unique image for it, conveyed by a name, tagline, and logo — in other words, through branding.

Branding Your Superapp Is Imperative

There are many benefits to branding your superapp. Through branding, designers make their superapp stand out from the competition and therefore easier for customers to recognize, which helps create a positive perception of the superapp and its overall value. Branding also helps communicate the superapp’s values and mission to customers and employees, creating a shared sense of purpose. Lastly, a consistent brand identity across all marketing channels conveys professionalism and reliability. For all these reasons, it is essential to differentiate the superapp with a distinctive brand identity that captures its essence and makes it stand apart from existing applications.

Five Milestones to Successfully Branding your Superapp

Some developers and designers can be intimidated by the word “branding.” After all, there are people who have spent their careers focusing on just that. But for the purposes of a superapp, you don’t need a master’s degree in branding to make a big difference. With that in mind, we have identified five key milestones towards branding your superapp:

1. Articulate the Values and Mission of Your Superapp

2. Name Your Superapp

3. Create the Tagline

4. Design the Logo

5. Implement and Disseminate the Branding

Milestone 1: Articulate the Values and Mission of Your Superapp

Define What the Superapp Represents

The first step in the branding process is to define what the superapp represents. This raises multiple important questions: What exactly are your superapp’s values? Are they simply the same values that your firm has defined as its own core values, for example innovation, integrity, and client first? What does your senior management and development team think the superapp represents? What do your other stakeholders believe that the superapp represents? This can be accomplished by facilitating workshops with key stakeholders to give them a chance to consider and share their expectations of what these values are. Discovering, synthesizing, and distilling what stakeholders think will ultimately provide a clearer understanding of the values and mission of your superapp.

Branding Workshop – Defining Brand Values

In the first workshop series, focused on defining brand values, stakeholders will discuss the essence, history, and core attributes of the brand or product. The facilitator should assign some homework in advance of the session asking participants to bring in images to share that reflect what the superapp means to them and what they think it would mean for the users — for example, one stakeholder brought in an image of a Swiss Army knife to make the point that the superapp is versatile, efficient, and convenient.

During the workshop, the facilitator will start with an overview of what has brought about the need and desire for the superapp. After that, participants will break into small groups to share the images they brought and discuss them. Each group will then iterate on finding more images that reflect the outcome of their discussion and put them on a digital slide or print them out and pin/tape them to a physical board, which is known as a “mood board.” The mood board visually represents the values and mission of the brand.

Once participants have completed their mood boards, the facilitator will guide a discussion about their insights, encouraging constructive feedback and new ideas. Use these visual elements as inspiration to draft preliminary values and mission statements for the brand.

Before you conclude the workshop, lead a discussion to synthesize the relevant values already discussed in the session to arrive at a consensus on the final set of values that resonates with the brand for the superapp.

Milestone 2: Name Your Superapp

Naming the Superapp: A Journey Beyond the Horizon

The importance of naming cannot be overstated, especially for something as revolutionary as a desktop superapp. Mariners of old had a saying: “How you name the ship, that’s how it’s going to sail.” This wisdom remains relevant even in today’s digital age. When you are about to introduce an application that will serve as the unifying front for a multitude of functions, it is paramount to think of the bigger picture. You are not just launching another software; you are embarking on a journey to simplify, optimize, and unify. The name you choose should reflect this vision, embodying the essence of integration and innovation.

Things to Consider When Naming Your Superapp

  • Your Superapp Is More Than Just a Toolbar
    One of the foremost branding challenges in introducing a desktop superapp is the temptation to resort to familiar terminologies. Naming it a “toolbar,” “launch bar,” or “ribbon” might be descriptive, but it’s an oversimplification that sells the superapp concept short and might lead some users to believe that its development was a walk in the park, devoid of intricate design and engineering challenges.
  • Should You Name it Launchpad?
    Many firms have avoided using the functional nicknames “toolbar,” “launch bar,” or “ribbon,” but have instead named their superapp “Launchpad.” While this popular name is slightly more formal, there are still downsides. For example, while using the name “Launchpad” reflects one of the superapp’s main functions — launching your firm’s apps — it has been used so many times at so many firms (which we have observed at multiple conferences) that it detracts from the uniqueness of your app. To make matters worse, it’s likely that several other individual applications in your firm already use the name “Launchpad”. Using the same name in multiple apps within the same firm can also lead to confusion, dilution of the superapp’s unique value proposition, and potential branding conflicts.

 

  • Drawing Inspiration from the Firm’s Identity
    If your company is named XYZ, then the superapp’s name could potentially carry the company’s legacy while highlighting its forward-thinking nature. Names like XYZ Nexus, emphasizing connections; XYZ Synergy, highlighting harmonious integration; or XYZ Fusion, showcasing a blend of functionalities, can be solid contenders. But, of course, brainstorming should not stop there.

Branding Workshop – Naming Your Superapp

Organize a workshop in which the focus is to produce a name for your superapp. Begin with revisiting the values that your team established through the prior branding workshop, and then facilitate a free-flowing brainstorming session for generating diverse name ideas. Break participants into small groups for collaborative idea refinement. Have each group present its top ideas, gather feedback, and discuss refinements. Through discussion, narrow down the list of ideas. Work with the larger group to refine and improve the selected names. If the larger group remains divided and cannot arrive at a final consensus, then conduct a firm-wide voting exercise in which the final name is chosen.

Putting Effort into Naming the Superapp Is Critically Important

Choosing a name for your desktop superapp is an important decision. As you stand on the cusp of revolutionizing enterprise software, remember that a name carries weight, history, and promise. So, as mariners of the past would advise, name your ship — or in this case, your superapp — with care, vision, and foresight. Because while the technological marvel of a desktop superapp is undeniable, its branding is a crucial step in ensuring its successful adoption and recognition. A name is more than just a label; it is the first impression, a promise of value, and a reflection of the innovation it encapsulates. Choose wisely!

Branding Milestone 3: Create the Tagline

Now that you know the values and have a name, you need to produce a brief statement that will be the mantra for your superapp. Here are two examples:

“A platform that provides a single place to discover and open applications, with a unified look and feel and fully integrated apps.”

“XYZ Nexus helps you find the apps you need, when you need them, and lets them work together seamlessly.”

The process of defining the tagline is something that can also be done in a workshop.

Branding Workshop — Defining the Tagline

Organize a workshop in which the focus is to produce a tagline for your superapp. Begin by reviewing the brand’s values, mission, and unique selling points and then facilitate a free-flowing brainstorming session for generating diverse tagline ideas. As you did in the other workshops, break participants into small groups for collaborative idea refinement. Then have each group present its top tagline ideas to the larger workshop, gather feedback, and discuss refinements. The larger group will then work together to further discuss, refine, and improve the selected tagline concepts. If the larger group is divided and can not achieve a final consensus on which tagline is best, then conduct a firm-wide voting exercise in which the final tagline is chosen.

Branding Milestone 4: Design the Logo

Branding your superapp is not complete without a logo, the symbol for your superapp that you will use in all your communications and marketing collateral. The logo must be visually pleasing, easily identifiable among the other applications visible on your user’s screen, and reflective of the function of the superapp.

The Logo Design Process

The key for optimal logo creation is to engage with a professional logo designer to produce options for a logo. If you don’t already have a logo designer in mind, ask around: your firm has likely worked with one in the past on other applications or branding needs.

Once you have identified a logo designer, be prepared to provide them with all the information you have gathered about the brand values and purpose, as well as the name and tagline that you’ve created. This will give the designer a solid basis to come up with several logo options that reflect the concepts that you want to convey. You can then present these options to relevant stakeholders for discussion and feedback. As with the name and the tagline, you will iterate on the logo design until you achieve consensus with key stakeholders.

Branding Milestone 5: Implement and Disseminate the Branding

By the time you arrive at Milestone 5, you will have spent many hours with your team, laying the groundwork of establishing core values before coming up with a good name, a catchy tagline, and a cool logo. If all went according to plan, you’ll be feeling great about all the work you’ve done to market the technological marvel that is your superapp.

However, your amazing name, tagline, and logo won’t do your superapp any good if no one sees them. And every so often we’ll encounter a product manager with an amazing app who is extremely frustrated by a low number of users. The good news, however, is that there are a few simple things you can do that will go far in making sure that your superapp will be known throughout your firm:

1. Your name, tagline, and logo should be used in all your communications and marketing materials. Distribute brand guidelines to everyone who puts together these materials to make sure this happens.

2. The logo and name should also appear on the superapp’s launch bar. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t always happen if the right teams aren’t communicating!

3. All your presentations should have a title slide, and the logo should appear along with the title.

4. You should have a slide at your fingertips that summarizes the superapp and includes the tagline, which is your mantra for the value proposition of the superapp.

5. And remember: if you repeat the tagline often enough, you will find that others will also begin to repeat it for you in their own conversations. Through a good tagline, the evangelism of your superapp’s value proposition can go viral within your firm.

Conclusion

Branding a desktop superapp goes beyond its technological marvel; it is a strategic process that involves defining its values, naming it with care, crafting a compelling tagline, designing a meaningful logo, and putting these elements to effective use. The branding journey is not merely sticking a bow on top of an amazing gift, but a promise of value, a reflection of innovation, and a crucial step in ensuring the superapp’s successful adoption and recognition. Through collaborative workshops, you can engage stakeholders in defining the essence of the superapp, selecting a fitting name, creating a resonant tagline and an instantly recognizable logo. As you embark on this branding voyage, remember that a superapp is more than just a set of integrated functionalities; it is a unified ecosystem, and its brand identity is the compass that guides its journey into the digital landscape.

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About the author
Rene Holl, PhD
Principal Product Designer/Researcher & Product/Program Mgr.
René Holl is a Principal Product Designer/Researcher and Product/Program Manager with over 25 years of experience in user-centered interaction design and execution management. From product vision to execution and post-launch optimization, René has in-depth expertise in digital ecosystems and data-rich transactional enterprise platforms. René supports clients in their digital transformation, ensuring the successful implementation of the four essential pillars for a thriving Desktop Superapp. This includes formulating UI ecosystem strategies, designing seamless user experiences, fostering application interoperability, and overseeing critical governance workstreams throughout the enterprise. René has a PhD in psychology with a focus in human computer interaction from The New School for Social Research, a MA in computer science from Brandeis University with a dual focus in human computer interaction and artificial intelligence, and a BA with a double-major in cognitive science (artificial intelligence track) and bio-psychology from Vassar College.
About the author
Vladimir Korostyshevskiy
Engineering Manager
Vladimir Korostyshevskiy is a seasoned Engineering Manager with an extensive journey from being an individual contributor in software development to a strategic leadership role. With a deep-rooted experience that spans over two decades, Vladimir has demonstrated exceptional prowess in managing complex, high-stakes projects and leading diverse, high-performing development teams.
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