Adding brand personality to a mobile app is important

Bojangles' newly launched iPhone application includes a feature that allows the user to play digital cornhole alone or with a group of friends.

It also includes an alarm that "lets you set a stomach growl sound to go off whenever you want people to drop everything and head to Bojangles," according to the company.

Bojangles' new app comes at an opportune time. Mobile application downloads are up 22 percent over last year, according to Nielsen. New research shows that 62 percent of U.S. smartphone owners have downloaded an app in the last 30 days.

A majority of the QSRs with a mobile app include the basics, such as store locator, menu and nutritional information. Some, such as McDonald's, go a step further and alert users to new promotions or career opportunities.

But as more consumers download more apps, brands are smart to add something fun to differentiate themselves, according to James Wester, editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com.

In addition to Bojangles', other examples include Krispy Kreme and Carl's Jr./Hardee's.

Fans of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts can now use the Android or iPhone app to find out when the Hot Light comes on at their favorite Krispy Kreme shop, indicating a fresh batch of doughnuts is now available.

"If you're a fan of Krispy Kreme, you know how powerful that Hot Light is. It's such a strong brand icon. We wanted to find a way to extend its reach," said Mark Logan, VP of digital innovation at Barkley, which developed the new app.

CKE Restaurants' Carl's Jr. and Hardee's brands introduced their mobile app late last year. It features a GPS-enabled loyalty program, combining location-based, check-in technology with rewards. The company claimed it was the first of its kind in the QSR industry.

Users are offered a spin on "The Wheel of Awesome" for every fourth check-in. The spin yields a coupon for a menu item or another reward. Every spin wins something, from burgers to movie tickets to Blu-ray players.

Wester adds that most consumers who download applications want these types of features, in addition to the basics. These consumers tend to consider their smartphone to be a form of fun, and they want to interact with the brand.

"What a lot of brands are learning is that it's not always necessary for an app to do something useful all the time. In fact, utilitarian apps are kind of boring. That's not what consumers want from a brand they engage with. Consumers have their phones with them at all times and they sometimes want them for entertainment," Wester said. "It's nice to have an app that helps locate a store or get a discount, but what is really appreciated is an app that is both useful and engaging. And if it's an app that also connects to something that makes a brand stand out, for instance Krispy Kreme's Hot Light, then that's even better."

Read more about mobile initiatives.

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