TO BRAND OR NOT TO BRAND…
“Branding is what lazy and ineffective marketing people do to occupy their time and look busy.” David Meerman Scott – Author of Real-Time Marketing and PR.
It’s tempting to end this post there so I can get on with my ever-lengthening to-do-list and appear all provocative and mysterious…
* I would probably get fired
* I don’t believe the above
* Or, perhaps more correctly, I only believe the above when branding is done to just provide a catchy tagline and memorable logo.
In reality, a brand is something far more intangible than can ever be recorded in a pithy one-liner. It’s the representation of an organisation as a personality. It’s what seeks to set the organisation apart in the minds of the audience and the manifestation of what the organisation believes in and promises to do through their activities and products.
So in healthcare, what is the point of a brand?
Often what gets touted in the health arena is that customers have no loyalty – physicians and payers buy and prescribe what’s most effective and don’t care about a product or the company behind it. An eye-catching name and logo will suffice to gather initial attention and provide some lingering recognition to ignite memories of the data behind the product.
Because products aren’t all that special …
Most products and organisations launched recently have focused on incremental innovation to further the improvements offered to patients. These products can, and do improve lives. But doctors are unlikely to remember every option available and how exactly each product benefits against another. Therefore, creating a distinct brand, one that stands out through a unified purpose and experience can separate a product from those around it.
Because no man is an island…
Success is built off the back of a lot of people’s hard work. Yet ensuring that each employee is speaking with a single voice so that your messages are not deemed to be schizophrenic in their delivery style and tone, that every employee understands the personality traits they must pursue in their work, can be the difference between success and failure. This is not just the brand of the product they work for, but also the brand of the organisation and how the two tie together. Living under strong, clear brands can clarify thoughts, inform future innovation and can be a simple metric to test everything a company says and does.
How to create a strong healthcare brand
Before a brand can be created, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and look at the wider organisation, the competitive field and just what the product offers. All tied together, is there a commonality that runs through? A point of differentiation, a feeling of a personality that seems to stand out? Moreover, is there a fundamental purpose or role for the organisation to work toward?
Often in healthcare, companies wish to be the caring friend, but is there room to be the rebel, the one who bucks the establishment, reframes a disease and puts the focus on an unmet need ignored until now? What about if your company aims to push understanding to the point where science becomes indistinguishable from magic? If so, do you want your customers to associate you with magicians and the awesome wonder you can deliver that will transform their lives for the good?
These questions need to be answered before a brand can be built to deliver an experience like no other. Once this is achieved, the work can begin to define the promise and values of the brand, the creative territories you may wish to explore; the imagery that best represents your archetype and the language to use that will inspire your audience and differentiate you from all others. From here and most importantly, we can now start to define and apply the behaviours that the brand must exhibit within the organisation. We can define the roles and responsibilities for all personnel from medical to marketing, and from sales to market access, thereby ensuring the brand experience is coherent and will indeed keep customers coming back for more.
Without these then your product will live and die on the hope that the customer is willing to analyse this evidence and try the unknown. With a brand, the customer has a reason to believe long before they try, and an experience that will keep them a loyal customer.
by Luke Cripps