Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Organizationalizing Your Brand - Where the Rubber Hits the Road


Just when you thought it was safe to swallow the concept of "operationalizing" your brand, here's another one to chew on - "Organizationalizing" your brand.  A few letters apart, but the two concepts offer a world of difference to your patients and other customer groups.

Before giving these concepts their just desserts (does this eating theme keeping going on?), let's explore the five steps of brand-building; 1) Developmental 2) Internal 3) Operational 4) Promotional 5) Organizational.   Step 1 is worthy of its own post and many articles and blog posts have been dedicated to the most effective ways to develop your brand strategy.  (If you'd like a refresher course, please let me know).  Step 2 is key to your brand's success.  Employees and other key stakeholders must not only be educated but inspired about their role in delivering on the brand promise.  Steps 3 and 4 are where most hospitals put the majority of their time and money.  From letterhead to lab coats, vehicles to name badges, television commercials to tabloids, the operational (including the navigational) and promotional phases of brand-building help tell the story to the marketplace.  And, in many institutions, this is the final chapter.  

But, and here's the exciting part, this is where the story really comes alive,  and like all good ones, should be told over and over to patients, visitors, stakeholders, physicians, and every other target group in your hospitals marketing plan.  

Where the brand rubber hits the road...

Speaking of rubber on the road...at the new Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, down the street from the fabulous Harley-Davidson museum, the hotel reinforces the brand story in every way, shape, and form.  It's the only boutique hotel in the country that targets the motorcycle enthusiast.  From special parking for bikes to "leather-friendly" hooks in the rooms to the lobby decor, restaurants, etc.  - this place says "branded" like few others.  And "Branded" is even the name of the casual restaurant in the hotel.  Visit the hotel for yourself either in person or on-line (www.theironhorsehotel.com) and get your motor running.  

From Harley's to Hospitals...

Step 5 in the brand-building process is all about organizationalizing your brand and focusing in on each and every touchpoint to make sure it reinforces who you are and who you're targeting. Start with your brand promise and then take a tour of your own hospital.  Keep a list of every opportunity you have to bring your brand story to life in front of your customers.  From artwork in the halls to patient education in the rooms - and everything / everyone in between - organizationalizing your brand reinforces your brand position and differentiates the customer experience.  And isn't that what being branded is all about?  

Well, it's also about a trio of great Kobe beef sliders in the restaurant with the same name that has stools designed for motorcycle riders to stretch their legs while enjoying a meal while their Harley is being washed and their leather jacket is resting on a heavy-duty iron hook.