Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hospital Branding: Great brands are a reflection of their consumers.

Great brands make a promise to consumers and deliver real value.  They go beyond "feature/benefits" and improve the way we feel, perform, and enjoy life.  Think about your favorite brands and the messages they communicate; most likely one or more of these lofty platforms are covered.

A recent consumer study was conducted to peel back benefits and uncover what really drives consumers to certain brands.  These are called "heartbeat" brand attributes because they, well, make hearts beat with excitement, passion, and hope. In the 2014 "Heartbeat Brand" survey, conducted by Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, consumers (N=225) were asked, "How important are the following characteristics of a heartbeat brand?"  The top three that emerged as "very important/important" were:
      • Reflects a personal passion           69%
      • Improves health and well-being    66
      • Expands my knowledge                 64
All three of these characteristics reflect something bigger than the product or service you provide.  They make your consumers better people; healthier, smarter, and more engaged in their lifestyle interests.  The findings also suggest that great brands support worthy causes, not too surprising since Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies are being implemented by many large brand corporations.  
The other insight this study shows is what great brands don't do.  According to the findings, it's not that important for heartbeat brands to "provide connectivity" or "enhance career success."  This suggests that, unless they are specifically professional-oriented brands, consumers prefer those that reflect on them as individuals in their personal lives.  

So, what does this all information mean for marketers.  While you can draw conclusions, too, here's a start:
  • Really understand your consumers - Not just their demographics and lifestyles - but their passions, ambitions, and interests.  Your ability to reflect these insights in your communications with them will strengthen your brand relationship.
  • Keep it personal - Professional success is important, but the study indicates that people keep that in a separate "bucket."   
  • Help people disconnect - We're all so connected these days!  This study suggests that heartbeat brands help people disconnect.  Maybe that's why Apple brands focus more on our ability to pursue passions than the "connectivity" they create.
  • Well-being is an important aspect of health - Not only should healthcare brands talk about and illustrate active lifestyles, but showing confidence, positivity, and overall well-being are just as important.
Great brands reflect the people who use them.  Not the other way around.  The more you know about the personal lives of your consumers; their interests, desires, dreams, and passions, the more you can reflect these attributes in your communications.  And that means greater stopping power and brand loyalty.  Peel back your brand benefits until you find what makes the heartbeat of your consumers tick.  

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