Can Brand Identity and ASO Coexist?

Gilad Bechar

Branding vs ASO: Mobile Performance Review

A critical goal for any company wanting to penetrate the mobile market is downloads. Whether it’s a utilities app, gaming, or scheduling, the end goal is to see download numbers climb and stay there. ASO (App Store Optimization) is the secret to achieving those numbers, by helping the app rank higher in the charts and get a better store conversion rate. Yet major brands struggle with implementing an ASO strategy, which relies heavily on keywords, for fear of veering off brand.

We’d like to let you in on a little secret we’ve learned from working with some of the top brands in the world. You can be all brand and all ASO; it’s possible to tie the two together to achieve a beautiful symbiosis.  

We rank some of the top apps based on how they’ve utilized ASO within their titles and subtitles. We’ll also delve into their thought process to see how they’ve balanced brand identity and ASO.

Uber ASO

App Store Title: Uber

Subtitle: Affordable rides 24/7

The App Store allows for 30 characters within an app title, making an ideal ASO optimized title 30 characters long, or close to it. The title should also be packed with relevant keyword to attract new users. It’s the place that gets the most attention from the store’s algorithm for priority of keywords, and their relevancy to the app.

Uber’s title and subtitle show the brand’s lack of an ASO strategy. It’s title is only 4 letters long, which means it’s missing out on 26 precious characters. The same holds true for its subtitle. Not only does it not utilize the total 30 characters, but “24/7” is not a strong ASO phrase. It is short and concise and not many people search for it. This is one of the reasons why Uber doesn’t rank in the top 3 results when searching for “Cab” or “Taxi” in the App Store. If Uber does appear in the top 3, it’s because it’s buying media using Apple’s Search Ads and paying a lot of money per click.

There are many possible reasons why Uber doesn’t have an ASO strategy. For one, it may not feel it particularly needs it. Perhaps it feels it’s already the dominant player in the market and doesn’t need to focus on attracting new organic users. It is peculiar though, as the company’s spending billions of dollars a year on user acquisition and providing heavy ride discounts. A likely reason could also be Uber’s fear of tainting its brand by having to cram in keywords to rank higher than competitors. If Uber knew that you could meld the two together, it could get so many more downloads. As a company valued at $70b and spending hundreds of millions on mobile media, it may be a good idea for Uber to consider ASO to not only get more downloads, but save some cash.

Walmart ASO

App Store Title: Walmart – Shopping and Saving

Subtitle: Fast & easy. Online & stores

Compared to Uber, Walmart takes full advantage of its App Store “window space”. Not only is its title exactly 30 characters long, but it’s packed with high-ranking keywords. “Shopping” and “saving” are proven keywords in the retail industry. It’s clear that Walmart has done keyword research to optimize its title for ASO. It makes it a point to not only have “Walmart” or “shopping” and “saving”, but all of three of them.

Walmart also takes full advantage of the space its allotted in its subtitle, filling 28 of the total 30 characters. Here too, Walmart packs the subtitle with highly searched keywords. Unlike with the title though, it does a slightly worse job melding its brand and ASO together. It’s clear from the look of the subtitle and the words used, that they are all strong keywords. Not only does the subtitle look choppy, but it reads choppy as well. Rather than focusing on 2 or 3 keywords and making somewhat of a coherent sentence, it just packs the subtitle. Perhaps Walmart feels that it’s already a known brand. It’s obvious that it just wants to put in these strong keywords to rank higher, even if the brand isn’t as present as it usually desires.

By looking at Walmart’s title, which melds brand and ASO, and its subtitle, which only focuses on ASO, it’s clear that Walmart understands the importance of ASO. It’s optimized its App Store elements for ASO, but predominantly focuses on ASO and leave its brand identity behind. When discussing the matter of brand identity and ASO symbiosis, it seems Walmart understands the importance and attempts to mix the two.

eBay ASO

App Store Title: eBay: Buy & Sell – Find Deals

Subtitle: Save money on discount offers

eBay does a very good job of mixing the analytical side of ASO, with the creative side of its brand. Its title is 29 characters long, which means it understands the importance of using its allotted “window space”. Its title also describes the product effectively, and even has a strong call to action – “find deals”. It does this with app store keywords that have a high relevance and extremely strong search score.

When analyzing its subtitle, it seems eBay knows what it’s doing when it comes to ASO optimization. Its subtitle is exactly 30 characters and is styled to be people facing. eBay uses every character it can to speak to potential new users and convince them to download the app. But it also combines keywords, which are needed for the algorithm, with words that people actually use. Its subtitle is conversational. It explains what it does, while ensuring it has strong keywords in there to attract new eyes. Those that might be searching for an app that can help them “save money” or find “discount” items or good “offers”.

Compared to Uber and Walmart, eBay’s subtitle is clear, concise, and describes what it does all while using even more keywords with a huge traffic score. It understands the download rates that can come from a perfect mix of ASO and brand identity within titles and subtitles.

Brand Identity + ASO = Success

By analyzing the above-mentioned brands and their App Store presences, the question of “Can a brand focus on high traffic and brand identity?” is answered.

From a no ASO and all brand strategy, like Uber possesses, to a perfect blend of ASO and brand strategy, like eBay has as far as titles and subtitles, the spectrum is wide. The only difference in the strategies companies choose is the potential. The potential of mixing ASO and your brand’s identity brings the opportunity for more downloads and incredible market penetration. So the answer is yes, staying brand safe while also ensuring ASO optimization is in fact, possible.

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