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Create Your Branded App

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Describe the overall process for creating a branded mobile app with Mobile Publisher.
  • List the elements that you can brand in your branded app.
  • Choose the right distribution type based on your use case.
  • Create and save a Mobile Publisher project.

How It Works

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to create a branded version of your mobile app, let’s take a step back and review the overall process so you know what to expect.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Sign up for the Mobile Publisher program. Contact your salesforce.com sales rep for more information.
  2. Design your branded assets and upload them to Salesforce.
  3. Choose an app distribution type that fits your needs.
  4. Receive a beta version of your app.
  5. Thoroughly test the beta.
  6. Approve the app and allow Salesforce to submit it to Google and Apple.
  7. Dance a little jig when you see your app listed in Google Play and the Apple VPP App Store. (OK, dancing is optional but highly recommended.)

After you publish your app, maintenance is a breeze. If your branding changes in the future, you can make an unlimited number of edits with Mobile Publisher. And when Salesforce releases a new version of the mobile app, the updates to your branded app are seamless.

Your Customizations + Your Branding = Your App

Remember: Your branded apps are just a duplicate of the Salesforce app and the mobile Lightning Community you already customized. You’re packaging your mobile implementation in a fancy new wrapper, but the underlying functionality is exactly the same. So the process for creating your branded apps begins with something you already have: the Salesforce mobile app and mobile Lightning Community.

Before you roll out a branded app to your employees and customers, evaluate your organization’s current mobile usage:
  • Are there ways you can customize the Salesforce mobile app so it’s tailor-made for your employees?
  • Have you customized your mobile Lightning Community with the right standard or custom Lightning components to best serve your customers?

Be sure to spend time optimizing your Salesforce app and mobile Lightning Community implementation. We recommend that you fully develop and test any customizations you make to the Salesforce mobile app and mobile Lightning Community.

Tip

Tip

To get the most out of your branded apps, earn your Salesforce Mobile App Rollout and Community Rollout Strategybadges on Trailhead.

DreamHouse Sets the Right Example

Let’s check in with D’Angelo Cunningham, our heroic admin, to see how he streamlined the Salesforce mobile app and the mobile Lightning Community customizations prior to creating the branded apps for DreamHouse Realty.

To customize the Salesforce app, D’Angelo did the following:
  • Created quick actions to speed up the brokers’ workflow.
  • Customized the mobile navigation so that the landing page is the Chatter feed. (Remember: The navigation you set up for the Salesforce app in your org also applies to your branded app.)
  • Built three new Lightning apps that are available from the navigation menu: House Explorer, Heat Map, and Property Explorer.
To customize the mobile Lightning Community, D’Angelo did the following:
  • Customized a theme to match DreamHouse Realty’s brand and style.
  • Created a custom search component to help their customers search more effectively.

D’Angelo has been gathering feedback from the DreamHouse brokers and customers and making his final adjustments to the mobile apps, and now he’s excited to forge ahead with Mobile Publisher.

Time to Cook Up an App

Now that DreamHouse is ready to create their own mobile apps, what do they do next? Well, creating a branded app is like baking a delicious cake. The first step is gathering the ingredients.

And with Mobile Publisher, that’s pretty much all you have to do. We take care of the rest of the baking process for you. You hand over the ingredients to us, and we whip up a towering confection of sugary goodness.

What’s the main ingredient in our Mobile Publisher recipe? You guessed it: your company’s visual assets. We can’t make a branded app without them.

An illustration of a giant cake and some ingredients

Prepare Your Branded Assets

Preparing your branded assets is the most important part of this process, and it’s also the most fun! Your company gets to dream up the visual appearance of your app and then design all the elements that will adorn your delicious cake. Er… app. (Sorry, still thinking about dessert.)

Let’s discuss some of the branding details so you can get started with your Mobile Publisher project.

What You Can Brand
You can apply your company’s branding to many of the elements in the Salesforce mobile app. Here’s what you can change:
  • App Icon
  • App Name
  • Launch Screen
  • Color Scheme
  • Application Store Listing (Name, Description, Images, Screenshots, Support URL, Marketing URL)
  • Authentication URL (Salesforce app only)
  • Help URL (Salesforce app only)
Work with a Designer
When you list your new app in Google Play and the Apple VPP App Store, millions of people worldwide can see it. And even though it’s probably only your employees who want to download it, you should put your best foot forward and work with a professional designer to create your visual assets. If your organization doesn’t have an in-house designer, hire a freelancer.
Depending on the size of your organization, your designer might collaborate with people in your Marketing or PR departments to develop graphics and copy that align with your company’s brand.
Follow the Guidelines
Luckily, your organization isn’t the first to go through the process of publishing an app to Google Play and the Apple VPP Store. To point you in the right direction, Apple and Google provide guidelines for all the design elements that make up your application store listing. We included links to those guidelines in the Resources section.
Stay Busy While You Wait
It may take a while for your company to design and approve all the branded assets. That provides you with the perfect opportunity to continue optimizing your Salesforce mobile implementation so it’s ready for showtime.

Create the mySalesforce Project

OK, let’s fast forward and catch up with D’Angelo after DreamHouse Realty’s designer has provided final versions of all the visual assets for the company’s branded apps.

D’Angelo is ready to roll up his sleeves and create the Mobile Publisher projects. One Mobile Publisher project for his brokers who use the Salesforce mobile app, and one Mobile Publisher project for his customers who use the mobile Lightning Community. So let’s jump into Salesforce and get started.

Important

Important

Mobile Publisher isn’t available in Salesforce Setup until your organization licenses the feature. Contact your salesforce.com sales rep for more information.

  1. From Setup, enter Mobile Publisher in the Quick Find box, then select Mobile Publisher.

    The mySalesforce landing page in Salesforce Setup

  2. Click Create New App.
  3. You can choose to brand:
    • Salesforce App
    • Lightning Communities

    App Picker

    Click Next.

  4. Enter a name for the Mobile Publisher project. Choose wisely—you can’t edit the project name after you set it. (This is for internal reference only; it won’t display publicly in Google Play or the Apple VPP App Store.)
  5. Click Next.

    After creating your Mobile Publisher project, you see a page that lists both versions of the branded app: one for iOS and one for Android.

One Project, Two Apps

When you’re done creating the Mobile Publisher project, you can manage the iOS and Android apps that are part of your project.

The iOS and Android apps in the mySalesforce project

Wondering why there are two separate listings for iOS and Android in your Mobile Publisher project? Well, each application store—Google Play and the Apple VPP App Store—requires a different set of information in order to publish an app. Before we can enter all the information about your branded apps, we need to figure out which distribution type best suits for your needs.

Distribution Types

Before D’angelo enters his information about the app, he needs to think about how he wants his apps to be distributed. The branded apps can be distributed to end users either publicly or privately via different channels per platform according to Apple and Google guidelines.

Make sure that your use case and preferred distribution type fits with Apple and Google guidelines. If you choose a distribution type that doesn’t work with your use case, it can cause problems for your users.

For example, if your branded app for iOS is intended for internal employees, you can only distribute it via Apple VPP (Volume Purchase Program) and not publicly on the App Store. Apple doesn’t allow moving existing apps between public and private distribution types, and as a result Apple may reject your app. You’ll have to create a new branded app and move your existing user base to the new app.

Here are general app distribution guidelines from Apple and Google:

Apple App Store distribution guidelines
  • B2B/B2E apps should be distributed via Apple private distribution (VPP).
  • B2C apps could be distributed to the public App Store.
Google Play Store distribution guidelines
  • B2C/B2B/B2E apps could be distributed to various distribution types based on the customer use case.

Help You Choose

There are two distribution types available. Both offer public and private app distribution to your end users.

  • Salesforce Managed Distribution: Salesforce manages distribution of the customer branded app via our developer account either publicly or privately.
  • Customer Delegated Distribution: Your branded app is published via your developer account either publicly or privately.

Here’s a matrix to help you choose which distribution type best suits your needs.

Salesforce Managed Distribution
Private Public
Android
  • Customer Developer Account: Not required
  • App Distribution: Customer-Managed Google Play for Work
  • Salesforce Require Access to Customer Developer Account: No
  • Customer Developer Account: Not required
  • App Distribution: Salesforce Public Google Play account
  • Salesforce Require Access to Customer Developer Account: No
iOS
  • Customer Developer Account: Not required
  • App Distribution: Customer Apple private distribution, VPP (Volume Purchase Program)
  • Salesforce Require Access to Customer Developer Account: No
n/a
Customer Delegated Distribution
Private Public
Android
  • Customer Developer Account: Required
  • App Distribution: Customer-Managed Google Play for Work
  • Salesforce Required Access to Customer Developer Account: Yes
  • Customer Developer Account: Required
  • App Distribution: Customer Public Google Play account
  • Salesforce Require Access to Customer Developer Account: Yes
iOS n/a
  • Customer Developer Account: Required
  • App availability: Customer Public on App Store account
  • Salesforce Required Access to Customer Developer Account: Yes

Now back to D’angelo where he’s reviewing which distribution type is best for the DreamHouse apps. The CEO of DreamHouse wants the branded Salesforce app for the brokers, who are internal employees, to be listed privately (not being accessible publicly on either the App Store or Google Play). For the external customers who use branded mobile Lightning Community app, the CEO wants the app to be listed publicly on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

To satisfy the preferences of the DreamHouse CEO D’angelo chooses Salesforce Managed Private distribution for the branded Salesforce mobile app. DreamHouse uses MDM (Mobile Device Management) to distribute the branded app to its brokers, which can be configured with the private distribution options offered by Apple and Google.

For the branded mobile Lightning Community app, D’angelo chooses Customer Delegated Distribution. This means DreamHouse customers can download and install the DreamHouse branded mobile Lightning Community app from the public app stores. To support Customer Delegated Distribution, D’angelo provides Salesforce access to DreamHouse iOS and Android developer accounts. Mobile Publisher manages the life cycle of the branded app automatically on behalf of DreamHouse (Mobile Publisher needs limited access, only to configure and manage the branded app from the customer developer account).

Hopefully, this helps you decide which distribution type is best for your apps. The next step in the process is to enter all the information about the iOS and Android versions of your apps.

Enter Information About the App

D’Angelo is eager to forge ahead with Mobile Publisher, so let’s help him enter information about the DreamHouse iOS app for his brokers.

  1. On the Mobile Publisher page, click Start for the iOS app.

    The form fields for the iOS app

  2. Fill in all the necessary fields.

    You probably noticed that there are numerous fields on this form. Like... a lot. But many of the fields have info bubbles, which are little beacons that can illuminate your path to success. So if you’re confused about a certain field, hover your cursor over the info bubble to see helpful tips and guidance.

    Of course, you probably won’t upload all the assets in a single go. Your latest changes are saved so you can come back and edit the information later.

  3. When you’re done entering all the information, click Submit.
  4. Click Submit again to confirm that you want to submit the form.

    The app is now a draft, and you can see the status of the app on the iOS page.

    The draft version of the iOS app that shows the app's status

D’Angelo repeats the same steps for the Android version of the app because DreamHouse wants to release the iOS and Android apps simultaneously. He also repeats these same steps for the DreamHouse mobile Lightning Community app for its customers. But you don’t necessarily have to do it that way. If you prefer, your organization can launch one app at a time.

Celebrate Your Accomplishment

Wasn’t that epic? OK, so filling out a bunch of fields probably doesn’t feel like a legendary feat, but it truly is. With the submission of a simple form, you’ve helped your organization take a huge leap toward mobile transformation.

And here’s more good news: The bulk of your work is now done, and you’re about to pass the baton to Salesforce. In the next unit, you learn how to request a beta version of your app so you can start testing it.

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