Too many fish in the sea?

Why strong branding is important for dating apps

13 February 2024
Too many fish in the sea? Dating app branding testing

Client Manager, Creative Domain, Insights Division

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Speed dating, who has tried it? For those not familiar, the principle is simple, mixed pairs, on rotation, you get a couple of minutes to make an impression, deliver your personality, and be memorable. When your competition is everyone in the room, you must be sure you are bringing your best self to the table. If you don’t, what is there to separate you from every other Jack and Jane?

Advertising is no different. You have a limited time to stand out, deliver your unique offer, and leave an impression. Since February puts us in the land of love, let’s use this opportunity to talk about how Dating Apps play in this space.

Using our award-winning LINK AI solution, we have analysed several Dating App ads. Our research reveals one of the biggest barriers to success is 'branding' i.e. people do not know who the advertiser is.

While I am not allowed to play favourites, I would argue branding is a key factor when determining effectiveness. You could make the most entertaining ad out there, but if people do not know who it's aimed at, it will not have a significant impact on your brand. For Dating Apps in particular this means even if your ad convinces people they should download a dating app, which they tend to be quite good at, there is a risk the user will pick the first dating app they see on the app store.

So, if branding is the challenge what is the solution?
There are multiple ways to deliver clearly branded ads...

First things first, logos and brand names. Lets be clear, this is housekeeping, not the fix. A nametag is not a personality, but people do still need to know who you are. So yes, let's make sure people know who is talking but remember if another brand could trade their logo out for yours and tell the same story, it is not unique. Think of this as your conversation starter, not a love letter.

What’s your story?

To make advertising ownable, it needs effective ‘integration.’ Our data shows it’s not about how early you introduce the brand; it is about how effectively you integrate it into the narrative. Is your brand the catalyst for the action, the hero to the problem, the resolution to the joke? If you can tell the story without mentioning the brand, it is time to step back and reassess.

Skipping the small talk?

Another important aspect is brand cues. These are elements that cue the brand without necessarily needing to see the logo. In human terms, this would be remembering someone for the scent of their perfume or the sound of their laugh. In marketing terms, it is colours, music, jingles, slogans, distinctive visuals, and celebrities (to name a few). It is McDonald’s 'I'm loving it', Wonderbra's 'Hello boys', or for those hoping for a ring this Valentine's Day - Tiffany's' oh so classic little blue box. Brand cues can be incredibly impactful when they're given time to embed, but to do so they need to be used consistently, over time and across multiple campaigns. You've got to pick something you love and stick with it.

Star Appeal

Celebrities and influencers can also be highly impactful as they capture attention and can add both credibility and a sense of aspiration. However, it is not a case of simply picking a blockbuster name. They should be aligned with your brand personality, and your values and be a relevant person both in terms of your offer and audience. On top of all that—much like with dating—it is worth considering how promiscuous they are. If they have advertised everything from perfume to lawnmowers, it will be much harder to establish them as being unique to your brand alone.

Developing Difference

The impressions you give about your brand also matter. How unique are your claims? At one point Tinder stood out with its 'swipe right' option—a phrase so famous it has its definition in the Collins dictionary. But as other apps follow suit, more is needed to cut through. Some look to purpose to stand out, such as Bumbles women first format, others lean into specialisation (religion, hobbies, occupations), some claim to deliver a love that lasts a lifetime...and others a love that lasts till sunrise. Your point of difference is yours alone and will be most effective when it meets a relevant need for consumers.

Creative Distinctiveness

Creativity can be a great way to differentiate. Are we telling a unique story, in an interesting way that gets across our brand identity? People are bombarded with advertising, so we need to make sure we are showing them something fresh. Tinder's ‘New Year New Possibilities’ is an interesting take on this concept. Their latest ad leans into emotion to tell the story of a new arrival to the city, finding her place and her people through the Tinder app. Not only are they leaning into emotion but also telling the story in a new way for the brand, using camera techniques and filters to create the feeling of watching someone's 'home movies'. This type of visual creativity can become a brand cue, so offers the potential to differentiate from other Dating App ads...if used consistently over time.

Consistency is key

Once you have embedded the branding principles above, how do you then meld them into a cohesive campaign?

Often, we've found that creative campaigns are not well integrated —a statement that applies to most categories, not just Dating Apps. This is to say ads running under the same campaign don't feel connected, be that visually, tonally, or through the messages portrayed.

This is a problem because we know when campaigns are well integrated, and each of those ads has been tailored to the relevant context, they show the greatest potential for impact.

And so, with all that in mind, the broader questions for dating apps are...

  1. Do you know what your unique brand identity is?
  2. Do you know what your point of differentiation is?
  3. Do you know how to successfully incorporate this into dynamic, fresh, and integrated campaigns?

From finding out who you are to helping you express this most authentically, Kantar is here to be your partner. To make the most of your media spend, and deliver differentiating campaigns click here.

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