Friday, December 30, 2011

Hospital Branding - A Top 10 for 2012

At the beginning of each new year, there's a Top 10 list for just about everything - from dieting to garage storage tips. So, while we're still in January, here's our list of Top 10 "Keep In Minds" for hospital marketers to improve their organization's marketing performance based on what we've read, discussed, heard, and pondered about. We hope 2012 brings you great success in the market.

1. Start with strategy. There are still too many organizations jumping right into execution and not enough focusing on "big ideas" when it comes to establishing a unique and strategic brand position. Building a successful brand is more than promotional - it includes five key steps; developmental, inspirational, promotional, operational, and cultural. These steps ensure that your brand delivers on a meaningful promise that you're making to the market.

2. Be consistent. Once your strategy is determined, stay the course! Why are so many organizations eager to change or vary their strategic direction after a brand launch? The old advertising adage still applies, "just when you're getting tired of it, the public is only beginning to see it."

3. Internal audiences first. Make sure your internal stakeholders understand what the strategy means for your organization and how they fit in. There is nothing worse than a friend or neighbor asking an employee what your new tagline means and their reply is, "oh that - just some expensive television commercial." Boom!

4. Social media is your voice, just on a different channel. This one is half pet peeve and half "keep in mind." Social media channels should be supporting your brand message, personality, and strategy. If your brand platform centers around 'scientific medicine," then you shouldn't be promoting physicals and flu shots on your Facebook page. Enough said.

5. Social media is the voice of your organization, not a staffer. Okay, not enough said. One more point to keep in mind. The personality of your social media channels should be that of the organization, not a staffer assigned to tweet and post. Have them keep their personal posts and thoughts on their own pages while keeping your channels focused and in support of the brand strategy.

6. Your website is still a viable "central source." While there's so much attention being paid to social media, don't lose sight of that "dinosaur" known as your website. Facebook posts and Twitter tweets are excellent sources to draw friends and followers back into your website for more information beyond 140 characters. Micro-sites and landing pages are terrific ways to bridge social media channels and support a specific promotional effort.

7. And, traditional media is still viable. Targeted communications on television, print, radio, outdoor, and other traditional vehicles are still pulling their (media) weight for most brand promotions. Think of these media as your "air strikes" while social and digital media make up the ground attacks. These media options still provide an environment whereby emotional and tangible connections can be made to your brand.

8. Brand engagement is a dialogue, not a monologue. Creating a unique community for your brand, and positioning your brand in your community requires a transparent dialogue with your customers. The days of just talking to customers and hoping they'll listen and buy are over (and have been for some time). Look how calls-to-action have moved from "for more information" to "like us," - now that's engagement!

9. " Veja Du" - look at your market differently. This is a wonderful concept we heard at BrandManage Camp last year. Today's organization's succeed by looking at a familiar marketplace and seeing how things can be done or positioned differently. Mix it up this year!

10. What happened to market research? On-line surveys, studies, focus groups, and analytics save time and money. But do they provide the same robust insights that customized research typically generates? We have found that the combination of the two sources usually provide the most effective data. When testing new messaging or creative concepts, there's nothing like sitting across from consumers, or behind the mirror, and hearing them talk firsthand about your brand and react to different ideas. That's insight you just can't buy on-line.

So, there you have it. Our 10 "Keep In Minds" for 2012. We got these in just under the wire, as we're ready to head into February. We look forward to sticking to these resolutions all year and hope your organization does the same.

Rob Rosenberg is President of Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, a brand development and communications firm with offices in the Chicago and D.C. areas. For more information on Springboard or to discuss this and other ideas, please contact Rob at 847.398.4920 or at

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