Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hospital Branding: Taglines are Just the Tip of the Brand Iceberg

Think icebergs. Nearly 90% of their mass floats below the surface, leaving just 10% (or the tip) in our view. The expression tip of the iceberg implies “a small indication of a larger possibility,” according to Wiktionary.
Now think taglines. Nearly 90% of the work, process, and strategy used to develop these three to six words are below the surface and unseen by the consumer’s eye. And a tagline is a short indication of a larger promise.
The point (or tip) I’m offering here is this: A tagline is what consumers hear and see about your brand through advertising and other communications efforts. Yet 90% of your brand’s promise is delivered under the surface or internally in your organization.
And that can make your brand swim or sink.
In many hospitals, taglines are thrown together to complement a new Web site design or business card. Often, they are bland and not very memorable. Predictably, they include several words that shouldn’t be used by hospitals: “care,” “exceptional,” “advanced,” or “close.” It’s amazing how many hospital taglines are alike and do little to differentiate their organizations.
Great taglines are works of art, carefully crafted to express just the right words, emotions, and actions delivered by your brand. On the surface, they sound so simple and unassuming. Yet, underneath, they are the culmination of a complex branding process and the foundation for an operational vision within your organization. From finance to product development, recruiting to research, the strategy behind your tagline should drive key strategic decisions.
“The Passionate Pursuit of Perfection” is not merely a Lexus tagline, it is a fundamental principle. It steers each and every action within that company.
If you think of your own favorite taglines, the best ones are those that ring true in more than just the advertising, but in the way that product or service delivers. And the experience you have with that company.
To develop the right tagline for your organization, start under the surface, where 90% of your brand mass lives and breathes. Put into gear your own brand development process that includes audits, interviews, and competitive analyses. Once you’ve articulated a strategy and brand promise that fits your organization, then it’s tagline time. By creating it in this order, your tagline will support your marketing strategy and create a deliverable promise to your market. Like its iceberg counterparts, it will remain strong and afloat for a long period of time.
The key here is to put your brand promise–communicated via the tagline–into operations and integrate it throughout your organization.
If you start from the top down, merely throwing words together and calling them your “brand,” you’ll quickly find that your tagline is a titanic disaster that doesn’t resonate with consumers or energize your workforce.
It will quickly sink . . . and your marketing efforts will be stuck back in the ice age.

For more information on Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, 847.398.4920 Hospital Branding

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brand 2.0: Growing "Brand Roots" in Health Care

I want to try a vegetable garden this spring, so I bought a ready-made kit to get some small plants rooted this winter. And naturally, that made me think of the next wave of health care branding! Seriously. Establishing “brand roots” is Brand 2.0 – brand management in health care.

While marketing communicators can’t control every aspect of the customer experience, we can help to establish “brand roots” throughout the organization to nurture the living, breathing brand. A brand position is not an end in itself; it needs continuous feeding, care, maybe even some pruning, to keep it alive, energized and growing.

This organic process means helping employees answer questions like:

-- What does our brand mean in my daily routine?
-- What if I don’t even work with patients or the public? How do I “live the brand”?
-- What do I do if I see a gap between our brand promise and a patient’s experience?
Who do I turn to? Is there a way to bridge these gaps?

For the marketing communications team, this brand-building process moves the profession into an entirely new arena. No longer the “brochure people,” you are the “keepers of the flame” – or the gardeners who work diligently behind the scenes, nurturing, guiding and encouraging brand growth.

Share Your Experiences!
What are you doing in your hospital or in your role in health care to build brand roots? Have you tried new approaches that have been successful? Have you found obstacles? What are they and what are your next steps? We’d love to hear from any fellow gardeners out there!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Truth Lies In Your Brand

This is an idea we were talking about during a meeting today - it involves hospitals being true to their brand and not sabotaging with false claims.  Watch for this next week!