From jaunty, monocle-wearing legumes to chainsmoking camels, the tradition of lovably anthropomorphic brand mascots spans at least a century. A quick swipe through your smartphone’s homescreen will reveal that the art of branding products with cute, often wholly irrelevant critters is flourishing in the app world.
It’s only natural then that the best app in the universe is, scientifically speaking, the one with a mascot capable of burrowing into our otherwise hardened hearts where it can force us to mindlessly love it, in spite of ourselves.
Applying this irrefutable logic, our inaugural Cutest App Ever Award will go to the best app in the entire universe. The champion will hereby be absolved of any criticisms we may have regarding its business model, murky ethical standing, reason to exist, et cetera. (The runner-up will be like halfway absolved of that stuff.)
May the best-ish brand win.
Our 16 arbitrarily selected contenders are quite a mix. Clearly, this tournament has it all, from hookup apps to something about cats and encryption to that game with the cute little dude who must hop to escape his untimely death.
Much like March Madness, the divisions of our bracket are wildly uneven. While the upper left division is stacked with well-loved powerhouses, like Twitter, other Twitter, and the new Secret fox, the upper right is a grab bag of things we sort of hate, most of which aren’t even really animals, which may have been a requirement. The bottom right is the other strong division, chockablock with cute critters. There’s a freaking dinosaur, even!
OK, let’s do this. Not everyone is a winner, least of all some of the apps that stumbled into the weirder corners of our bracket.
First, let’s talk about Grindr. Grindr is the Uber for gay dude-sex, so why is its logo some kind of terrifying mask? We get concealing the identity of your potential sex pal, but still. Tinder flame (also not really cute or an animal) moves on here. In other news, nothing about Snapchat isn’t the worst. The Snapchat ghost looks like some kind of terrible pancake.
Moving clockwise, the Yak bests the very cute Hipmunk because teens. And dinosaur beats tiny hedgehog every time, which does not diminish our love for tiny hedgehogs—not one bit. In the bottom left division, which we almost forgot about, the lackluster TripAdvisor owl ekes out a victory over the Remember The Milk cow, mostly because the cow is an eyesore. Evernote beats the pixelated Cryptocat because Evernote is like everywhere and no one cares about encryption even though they really should.
In the upper left bracket, Twitter loses twice—once to the oh-my-god-so-cute Secret fox and again to Doodlejump. Twitter, we still love you, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
Wow, that was fast! Way faster than college basketball, which is still actually pretty fast. We’re down to four contenders for the title of Best-cutest App Ever. Moving clockwise, we’ve got the Secret fox sliding past the Doodlejumper, who ultimately just has too much going on. In a showdown between things that are sort of painful, the Swarm bee swiped left on the Twitter flame. Ouch.
In the bottom right, the Yak beats a dinosaur wearing aviation goggles, which surprised even us. But can the Yak go all the way? Oh yeah, and in the boringest corner, something boring happened.
Ready for a recap? Good because here’s the whole tournament. Wasn’t that a wild 600-word (or so) ride?
This showdown is pretty epic. Of course the whole tournament would come down to a face-off between two anonymous social apps that we find both fascinating and problematic. Yik Yak might be young, but the Secret fox is actually the newest competitor on the map, and holy whoa is that fox lovable. Both apps are almost cute enough to make us totally forget their weird privacy and cyberbullying implications! But there can only be one champion.
It’s been a long road, but the Yik Yak went the distance. Combining flat colors (material design?) with a funny animal and an alarmingly strong brand, the Yak takes it all. Glory, momentarily critical amnesty on behalf of our tech staff, all of it. Congratulations, Yik Yak—keep on doing whatever it is you do. We’ll see you around campus.
Photo via Sarah Buckley/Flickr (CC BY-2.0)