Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hospital Branding: The Q Word Lives On



In a quest to discover which attributes consumers attach to their favorite brands, Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy recently conducted a survey among 200 U.S households.  The findings, soon to be published in an e-Book, "Heartbeat Brands and What Makes Them Tick," cover a variety of topics and will shed many insights on brand strategies.

As a sneak peak, one key finding of the study reinforces what Ford and Zenith understood decades ago:  "Quality is Job 1" and "Quality goes in before the name goes on."  Back in the day, these famous brands owned the "Q" word and it did wonders for their sales and lasted a generation in advertising life years (about 10:1 in human years).  Other automobile and television manufacturers staked out different brand claims and let Ford and Zenith run with the quality strategy.

Hospitals also use the Q word in their branding and marketing strategies, too freely and frighteningly often. One problem with this approach is that their competitors do, too, and it becomes overused and under-appreciated by consumers. However, as indicated below,  the Q word is alive and well in consumers minds and hearts - how it's defined and used in a brand strategy is what makes it tick.  An important lesson for healthcare marketers.

Among all brands, quality is the most desired attribute

The "Heartbeat Brand" survey asked the question, "when it comes to your favorite brands, how important are the following characteristics?" There it is...at 90% "very important"...the Q word.

This question was asked in the survey to confirm that "quality" is a must have. Not a nice-to-have.  But you just can't say it, you have to define it. In the survey, "quality" was defined by product/service performance, innovation, design, "feel," consistency, craftsmanship, and longevity, among others.

Hospital Marketers Agree, and Disagree

When it comes to the use of quality as a strategy, hospital marketers agree. We asked them to rate the same list of characteristics that they feel are most important to consumers and 79% of hospital marketers named quality as "very important."They were fairly close to the other responses, too, with the exception of "modern/up-to-date." While 54.1% of consumers cited this characteristic as "important/very important," 86.2% of hospital marketers considered it a more important attribute.  Note to hospital brands that are building or updating facilities: don't just call it "new" or "modern" and leave it at that. The adjective needs to be defined in order for it to be relevant to consumers.

There will be many more posts here using findings from the "Heartbeat Brand" survey that will hopefully cause a few ah-ha's and head scratches. And, as mentioned, an e-Book will put it all together in a tidy package. But for now, remember that quality is still "job 1" and consumers want it from your brand. And just don't say it or display it (with stars or other "awards"). Define it in terms that are important to your consumers and satisfy their desires along the lines of those benefits mentioned above.

Rob Rosenberg is President of Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, a brand strategy and communications firm specializing in hospital branding located in the Chicagoland area. For more information on Springboard or to discuss this and other ideas, please contact Rob at 847.398.4920 or rob@springboardbrand.com

2 comments:

Vinci Design said...

Branding for a hospital is definitely specialized as it has to be recognizable, legitimate and inspire a feeling of trust with a sense of consistency.

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