When it comes to winning major honours, FC Bayern Munich are hard to match. With 26 German championship titles, 18 DFB German Cups and 5 UEFA Champions League cups, they are a club that demands high standards in everything they do. So when it came to choosing a company to develop their new mobile and tablet apps, there was only one company that could match these expectations – OMNIGON.
“Following a long and intensive tender process we opted for OMNIGON as they had the best approach, the best references and the best understanding of our needs,” said FC Bayern’s director of media, digital and communications, Stefan Mennerich.
Founded in 2008, OMNIGON have worked with global brands including PGA TOUR, AS Roma, the DFB Pokal, IRONMAN, NASCAR, World Rugby, FOX Sports, Miami Heat and countless others. Their team of digital strategists, artists and technologists work exclusively in digital content delivery in the sports, media and entertainment industries.
“There are only a couple of football clubs in the world that have the reach and influence of FC Bayern Munich," said David Nugent, OMNIGON’s chief commercial officer. “They are a brand synonymous with excellence; the confidence they’ve shown in our team’s ability to do great things for them is inspiring.”
The use smartphone and tablet apps is growing in importance, especially in the sports industry. People spend, on average, three hours a day consuming content on mobile devices and around 62% say they check their phone at least 30 times a day.
“For sports properties, smartphones are the most important content environment on the planet so it’s important that sports properties like FC Bayern provide a great mobile experience for their fans,” David continued.
“FC Bayern has one of the largest fan bases in world football so we knew it would be incredibly important to create an experience that would resonate for fans globally.”
Working in close collaboration with each other, initial conversations about the design and functionality of the apps began in early 2016. Key features include live match centre functionality which provides fans with live match commentary, match statistics and video highlights, along with other features not seen before.
Leading the design process, Bora Nikolic, OMNIGON’s chief creative officer, said: “While going through initial conversations and design explorations, we realised these new apps needed to focus on three design principles. They needed to be elegant and simple to use. They needed to let the hard-core passion and emotion of the on pitch action and of the supporters come through, all while surfacing relevant and useful content to them. Above all else, they were designed to foster a connection and build a meaningful relationship between the club and its fans, regardless of their location.”
With over 400 million followers worldwide designing an app that catered for the needs of a diverse range of fans was not without its challenges. “Overall, the design process was efficient and collaborative,” continued Bora.
“Understanding German fans and the emotional connection they have to their club was a critical component of the design process. Another objective was to utilise visual system nuances as a way to emotionally connect fans with the club. Our strategic use of evocative media assets, colours and typography helped meet and exceed the objective.
“One challenge in designing this app was ensuring the user interface accounted for the German language, known for its high character and word count. We paid special attention to the typographic waterfall implementation and ensured that legibility was not impacted as we switched between languages."
Vital to the whole process was the collaboration between OMNIGON and FC Bayern to overcome any design or the functionality requirements that changed during the build of the apps.
“This project was a total collaborative effort; we worked hand in hand with the FC Bayern team to define the scope and the project roadmap not only for the initial launch but for the subsequent phases as well,” Bora added.
OMNIGON controlled the scope of the project by ensuring the entire team understood what was required for the initial launch. Nonessential features were prioritised in order to meet the agreed upon dates without sacrificing the quality of the experience. This deep level of thinking, expertise and ability to develop complex applications that look elegant and are user friendly is what has propelled OMNIGON to become the leader in its field.
“Taking complex business scenarios and turning them into elegant digital experiences is in our DNA, and it’s a big part of the reason that FC Bayern turned to us when selecting a partner,” added David. “The FC Bayern Munich apps have a number of complex backend integrations and leans heavily on data. The app is like a swan in that what you see and experience is graceful, but there’s a lot of action going on below the surface.”
But the main driver is the collaborative approach and constant dialogue with FC Bayern which benefitted both parties and David was keen to express this.
“We work really hard to culturally align our project teams with the teams of our partners. In this case, we leveraged the subject matter expertise and passion for FC Bayern football from one of our European project team members. He is a fluent German speaker and happens to be a fan of the team. I also believe that we benefitted from the understanding there would be challenges, but that we had the right team members (on both sides) to handle them."
“OMNIGON exceeded our expectations,” added Stefan. “They were always flexible, always focused and showed their expertise throughout the project. We learned how users expect a sports app to be and we also learned a lot about flexible management.”
High praise indeed and with additional features soon to be added to the apps which will include personalisation that will give the ability to deliver content based on “fan context” - delivering content to fans whether they are on the go, watching TV or attending the live match, the development of the apps and the relationship between OMNIGON and FC Bayern will continue to push the boundaries of technology and fan engagement.