Branding Brand Is Growing Fast as It Helps Improve the Mobile Shopping Experience (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

As smartphones take over the job of powering more of the magic behind Christmas gift giving this year, a storefront along East Carson Street is filling up with employees focused on making mobile shopping easier, faster and basically better.

Branding Brand, a start-up business that moved to the South Side from Oakland this summer, has in the past two years helped retailers such as Ralph Lauren, Costco, Crate & Barrel, and American Eagle Outfitters take their stores onto mobile devices.

The mobile commerce platform company keeps hiring more people to help keep up with the work, and expects to have 120 employees by year-end. Two years ago, it had 10.

Shopping with cellphones and tablets is such a rapidly evolving area that Branding Brand keeps one room stocked just with all the new devices, as well as older ones that consumers haven't dumped just because the tech community thinks they should.

"We're always kind of layering on top for new devices," said Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO of the business started by three Carnegie Mellon University graduates back in 2008.

But they've got to stay out there on the cutting edge, too.

One of the hot new apps of the moment is Passbook, an Apple creation for the iPhone or iPod touch designed to serve up airline tickets when the user arrives at the airport or coupons when they walk into a store. It may also further the push toward a true mobile wallet.

Branding Brand worked with Sephora to allow the cosmetic retailer's loyalty club members to use Passbook to easily access their points and other info. Sephora's tool launched along with Apple's iOS 6 in mid-September.

"With the help of Branding Brand, we saw 600,000 downloads of our iPhone app and 200,000 Beauty Insider cards added to Passbook in the first two weeks of the Passbook integration," said Julie Bornstein, senior vice president, Sephora Digital, in an email response to a query.

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