Branding and marketing a dating verification app
Bringing authenticity to online dating
The founders of the dating verification app bTru came to us with an ambitious intent. With a vision to become the premier authority of authenticity in the online dating experience, they were shaping an app to help online daters see who people really are before investing time and emotional energy in dating. To successfully create a transparency-driven movement and hold the dating industry to a higher standard, the founders knew they needed a strong brand platform.
We were asked to evaluate the business proposition, and guide the brand naming and all communications. We developed the brand platform, designed the app and created the website and various touch points. In doing so, we aimed to:
- Uncover and clearly define the unique value of bTru.
- Differentiate the bTru brand from other dating apps.
- Tell a compelling story in a growing industry.
- Speak to the emotions and needs of savvy consumers.
“We want to create a movement that’s made up of people who are looking for authenticity and transparency and honesty and happiness ultimately. We’re creating a new norm for this world.”
Building the brand anew
Since bTru was a new company, we didn’t have an existing brand to evolve. We were creating an aspirational brand anew. Our research focused on the founders’ vision, and current and future marketplace trends. To gain a deeper understanding of the company, industry and challenge, we:
- Conducted a brand interview session with the founders.
- Performed a brand ideation session with the core team and brand strategist.
- Attended the iDate conference.
- Read widely about the online dating industry’s business and consumer trends.
- Signed up for and used nine leading online dating sites and apps.
As part of our research, we stepped into the shoes the ideal bTru user. The app seeks to meet the needs of a segment of people who aren’t being served well by existing dating sites and services. Many have become jaded from weird experiences, scary situations or commonplace lies. They crave genuine relationships but are unable to find a path that stands between expensive concierge services and affordable dating websites that lack needed transparency. Influenced by emotional burnout and security concerns, they want an affordable route to authentic relationships. Given all of this, we approached our development of the brand platform with these individuals in mind.
Creating the complete story
We shaped a complete brand platform that communicated the company’s objective to enable happy, honest relationships. Marrying art and science, we fleshed out the essential brand platform elements including the functional benefit, brand pillars, personality and values. During this process, it became clear that the disruptive nature of bTru is rooted deep within the essence of the company. Functionally, bTru is not a dating site. It offers something different than a dating site. As such, every extension of the brand must communicate this distinction clearly to potential users. This understanding influenced the core positioning — “verified potential.” This positioning clarifies bTru’s offer to verify people’s identities rather than pair people like a dating site. Drilling this distinction down within the brand platform was essential; doing so helped keep subsequent communication on point.
Shaping a balanced expression
To give the brand a face in the marketplace, we developed an identity and full expression stemming directly from the brand platform.
Knowing that a key context for the identity would be within the app store, it was especially important to make the identity stand out visually among competitors. We ultimately designed a concept that is shaped like a seal. This design embodies bTru’s aim to be the “good housekeeping seal of approval” for online daters.
Since bTru aims to bring happiness to relationships, we kept the expression of the brand upbeat — both in design and verbal expression. We walked a fine line between respecting the seriousness of the issue and generating a light-hearted approach to keep people engaged. The balance is captured well in the tagline — don’t be blind on your first date — which emerged within an ideation session with our clients.
Developing a strategic name
Though the founders came to us with a working project name, they needed an official one to strategically position the brand within the marketplace. Our goal was to develop a name that would offer a direct departure from dating sites and signal a clear contrast between bTru and existing marketplace offerings. Using the positioning statement and functional benefit as our guide, we created concept buckets and developed name possibilities. Ultimately, bTru was selected from the pool of contenders. It offers a bold call to action that quickly sums up the central purpose of the brand.
Designing the interface
Our team also spearheaded the user experience and user interface design for the bTru app. At every step of the way it was critical to keep in mind the end user. Our research revealed that this person’s underlying pain points likely included emotional burnout and time scarcity. Given this, it was essential for the app to be as simple as possible at every step of the way. Within the app we also included an informative video to clearly explain the features of the app and assist users.
Engaging online users
Hand-in-hand with the app, we developed a responsive website to introduce bTru to potential users. We knew the site needed to share the promise of the brand, explain the basic features of the app and offer an engaging experience.To achieve these aims, we created an entertaining teaser video that is central to the site design. It quickly reveals the problem bTru promises to solve and embodies the spirit of the brand. The screenshots below the video easily sum up the key features of the app while incorporating subtle humor to surprise and delight people.
Prior to the launch we also wanted to ensure that the site could capture email addresses to build an audience base. Because of this, we included a sign-up form in a central location just below the video as a direct call-to-action. Post launch, the primary function of the site also shifted to include ability to download the app. Overall, the site design respects the time and attention of users, maintaining a light-hearted yet truthful approach to a key concern in the dating world.
Touch point development
Supporting the brand launch
To support the launch of the brand, we designed additional materials including business cards, postcards and collateral for a blogger launch party. Beyond the website and in-app videos, we created a marketing video that explains the features of the application. Regardless of platform, each touch point was carefully crafted to tell the bTru story and connect with users’ needs.
The app is just launching as we write this, so results will continue to unfold in the months to come. So far, bTru’s founders have expressed that we’ve met and exceeded their high expectations and buzz about the app has been positive.