WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram. In the beginning, we needed all three. Each app was wildly differentiated from the other two and served a distinct purpose. WhatsApp was for keeping up with friends and family in an informal manner, establishing little connections throughout the day away from more public-facing social media platforms. Instagram on the other hand, was for sharing our best, dare we say, envy-inducing moments. To keep up with friends and family, but also to curate a persona, a life, a world. The best of the best within a little square. Snapchat was a cross between the two; visuals are more important than text, as in Instagram, but the fleeting nature of the photos means that people are not overly concerned about projecting an aspirational lifestyle. Snapchat allows us to share the funny, the ugly and the bizarre with our nearest and dearest.
Over the last year though, each app has innovated so much so that the three are becoming largely indistinguishable. Or at least, they all now boast the same functions. The individual brands are slowly eroding. Consider WhatsApp’s new ‘status’ function, which is simply a new iteration of Instagram Stories – which is itself an iteration of Snapchat Stories. In trying to be all things to all people, the three apps are slowly merging. From a business point of view it makes sense, why not copy what works? But as branding specialists, we can’t help but wonder whether these innovations mean anti-differentiation.
We’re interested to see what happens when people have to choose which app to post which photo to – if the functions are becoming increasingly similar, is it just the audience that changes? Will people continue to behave differently on each app? Or will people abandon the current needs-based hierarchy in favour of one panacea-app?
We would love to see each app begin to truly innovate by pushing forwards with its own very distinct sense of what the future is. Interrogate your purpose, remember what makes you unique and innovate single-mindedly. In short, examine how your DNA evolves, without looking over your shoulder.