Posts Tagged ‘brand management’

“L” Stands for loser.

February 10, 2012

Another Super Bowl is in the books. Over hyped? Yes! Bad halftime show? Yes! But the game was great and Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday so why not enjoy.

Now it’s time to prepare for next season. The NFL players are resting, getting needed surgery and getting prepared for mini camps. Just like the players, the NFL is already working on future Super Bowls. And that’s a good thing because the NFL has a little problem with Super Bowl 50. Ever since the first Super Bowl, the league has numbered them using Roman numerals. That would make Super Bowl 50, Super Bowl “L”. “L” stands for loser. This creates a heck of a problem to solve. The league has managed it’s way through and around  Super Bowl IV in 1970 and Super Bowl XXX in 1996. But having a giant “L” with a sponsor’s logo like, say, Nike’s swoosh right above it could be a little awkward. Not to mention being awkward for the host city.

SO. Just like players trying to get stronger and faster, a crack team of designers and sharp thinkers are squirreled away trying to solve this big problem for a big client. Maybe they will take this opportunity to convert the Super Bowl to Arabic numerals. After all 50 is a huge mile stone. They didn’t think there would be ten Super Bowls let alone fifty. Maybe they’ll have the “L” stand for something other than “Loser” or find a way to hide it in the design. Who knows. But what a fun challenge that would be.

I have a lot of great ideas. I’ll just sit back a wait for the NFL to call.

Three births, three patient experiences.

March 29, 2011

My wife and I are the proud parents of three boys. I know, wow, three boys. Trust me, it’s a blast and we were blessed with three relatively smooth deliveries. Interestingly enough, each boy was delivered at a different hospital and each experience was very different.

The experience we had with the birth of our first son wasn’t what we expected. Your first child is never what you expect, but I’m talking about the patient experience. The hospital was cold and clinical, it was the area’s teaching hospital dedicated to “academic medicine.” My wife felt like a science experiment. The saving grace was a nurse working in the nursery at night; we’ll call her KT. She really loved babies and she loved her job. She made us feel like we had our own nurse caring just for us. We still remember her and I think my wife would include her in our will if she could find her.

Because of our first patient experience, we chose to deliver our second son at the local “boutique” hospital. It was like checking into a hotel to have a baby. It was quiet and comfortable, but we didn’t experience any hospital staff with the same passion of KT. We were treated fine and the delivery went well, but we didn’t leave feeling like we had been given care that was unforgettable.

Maybe I’m being too picky. I often think it’s unfair to expect everyone at a hospital treating my wife and me to exhibit the same kind of passion and zeal as KT’s. Or is it?

Recently my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our third son. We didn’t know what to expect. Our third son was delivered in a different city than his older brothers. My wife’s OB chose the hospital.

From the time we checked in to the time we left, we were reminded of KT because the entire staff worked with her passion and zeal. One nurse came to our room to check my son’s hearing. He started coughing and the nurse picked him up and cleared his throat. This is not uncommon but she did this gladly even though it wasn’t life threatening and not her job. Another nurse came by after her shift just to check on my wife before she left the hospital. It didn’t matter that another nurse was already on duty. Another nurse moved heaven and earth to get me a roll-away bed. I didn’t ask for a bed, all I did was make a joke about the couch being uncomfortable.

Not only are these doctors, nurses and staff members good at what they do, they love what they do and it shows.

I’m a Creative Director in the healthcare/hospital marketing field. One of the coolest things I get to do is witness the work of doctors, nurses and staff who really love what they do. When you talk with them their passion shines through. They believe in what they do and they love it.

As a “creative”, I’m always looking for new and different ways to communicate a client’s competitive advantage. I love what I do. We can saturate the market with a campaign message and light up the web with interactive and social media content. But the most powerful communications tool can be one doctor, nurse or staff member doing their job with a passion that makes them unforgettable to their patients. That’s a real competitive advantage.

While the recent great patient experience is still fresh in our minds, I know we will always remember this hospital stay with a smile. The same way we remember KT.

THE LOGO EVOLUTION; an optimistic revolution

January 18, 2011

A logo update often speaks of a company trying to stay up-to-date in its offerings while strengthening its’ connection with consumers. But, with Starbucks falling into the bucket of recent logo evolutions within the last few months, I was forced to put down my Venti, Non-fat, Carmel Macchiato and ponder – could it mean something more? Could we be on the cusp of a branding revolution?

Every New Year begins with the hope for better things to come. Resolutions are made to convince ourselves that we can try harder and be more than we were the year prior. Every January, we are motivated to turn over a new leaf, conceive and commit to a better version of ourselves, and to accomplish big things. 

Essentially, a rebranding.

I believe the growing appetite for brand evolutions may possibly be an effort by these companies to demonstrate a new promise for the future – even in spite of familiarity feeling more sensible to their consumers.

Perhaps after being smacked around by the impact of the recession – and still jostling from the residuals – we are all eager for a more optimistic perspective.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, twice as many Americans think the U.S. economy will be better rather than worse in 2011.

2011 Expectation (vs. 2010) In Terms of the Economy (Percent of Group)
  Expectation % of Group
Group Better Same Worse
National adults 52% 21 25
   East 55 24 21
   Midwest 56 25 18
   South 51 20 27
   West 48 17 32
$75K or more 55 23 22
$30K to $75K 52 21 25
Less than $30K 51 20 27
Republicans 46 23 31
Independents 50 23 26
Democrats 62 19 16
Source: Gallup, December 2010

Recent tracking results show that consumers only became increasingly optimistic about the economy as 2010 came to an end.

Gallup analysts suggest this could be due to our general optimistic nature as Americans, or it could possibly reflect views of a recovering economy.  

Or it could simply mean that we are all ready to move forward.

And, honestly, was it the attempt these organizations made to put forth a new image that has been debated? Or the lack of creativity, planning and strategic foresight that has forced us to question the success of these new brand transformations?

As Paul Rand said, “Good design is Good for Business.”

And bad design will get you posted on every blog and Facebook page known to man!

 

Creating More Successful Brands

December 10, 2010

In hospital marketing, we talk a lot about strategies and objectives, different media vehicles, public relations, physician relations, administrators, budgets and budget cuts.

All things Brian Parsley, the final speaker at this year’s CHPRMS fall conference, didn’t touch. His topic was us. The marketers. The coordinators. The PR specialists. The VP’s. The people behind the positions.

Brian is part entrepreneur, stand-up comic, dot com survivor and one time chicken-cutter-upper. His message ranged widely, but touched on a handful of points that we, as people and as healthcare marketers, should embrace to achieve greater success.

People have choices.
People choose where they spend their money (or co-pay). Businesses have to care about acquisition and retention. One tweet I saw earlier this week by Eric Brody contrasted a morning doctor’s office experience with an afternoon visit to a Trader Joes. The difference? He blogged that he felt appreciated at Trader Joes; the exact opposite of how he felt earlier in the day at the doctor’s office. The ultimate question today is not how satisfied patients and customers are, but would they recommend us to someone they cared about?

It’s not about selling services and products.
It’s 100% about serving others. The more you serve the more you win. Brian talked about the honeymoon phase of a relationship and what makes it so good. It’s not the newness; it’s the willingness to reciprocate. Loving customers is something more and more brands are becoming known for: Zappos, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Southwest Airlines, and, more locally, Chick-fil-a. Their philosophies are customer-centered and strive to provide the best experience possible.

Brands are managed, not owned.
Brands are no longer limited to ads and buildings or stores; they’re everywhere. They are things, people, even feelings. Brands are written into e-mails, websites, collateral and social media. They are verbalized in voicemail messages and answering systems. There are even visual brands: how we carry ourselves, how connected we are to our live and work communities. Our personal brands are our reputations. Our personnel are a brand’s reputation.

Take care of customers; they take care of you.
Patients tell other patients. Moms talk to other moms. Word of mouth marketing is a very powerful marketing tool. Brian shared the experience of a physician practice that implemented a “patient first” policy where patients are given exceedingly good service from the front desk all the way to checkout and beyond. The whole practice was rewired for customer service. Not surprisingly, their referrals went through the roof. Make it easier for people to do business with you.

Build your value.
Know and live your values. Look at your willingness to serve other people. Don’t rely on excuses. Get better at social intelligence. Know you can always bounce back. Learn to love criticism and learn from it.

Be persistent.
Not sure if this is verifiable, but it sure feels right: 80% of all yeses happen between the 5th and the 22nd contact.

Communicate better.
However you communicate and whatever you communicate, you’re sharing a story. Many times, stories are retold, while facts are forgotten. Stories entertain in rich detail and create a vicarious experience.

It was an inspiring hour and a great way to close CHPRMS where so much of the conference centers on “talking shop.”

As Brian spoke, I found it very easy to think about what he was saying in the context of both my work life and personal life. We hear a lot these days about how brands need to interact with their customers. But it’s not just interaction we crave, there needs to be meaning, too.

Do we really want more from brands? Or do we want more from ourselves? It’s worth thinking about.

You can connect with Brian on Twitter or Facebook.

Breaking the Piñata: When is too much information, too much?

September 16, 2010

Four days, 6 general sessions, 70 break-out workshops, 119 exhibitors, dozens of exchanges during breaks and luncheons with fellow attendees and the SHSMD 2010 conference is complete.

Rich with content and excited to share these pretty, shiny nuggets of knowledge with you, I’m struggling to find a starting point.

It’s almost like cracking open a piñata and not being certain of the direction in which I should scamper. Which goodies do I want to hoard for myself? Which ones do I want to share with others? Which ones do I find fascinating and you may find irrelevant?

I could craft a summary of the SHSMD conference and provide an overview of all the tidbits I’ve gathered, but the final product would be more like a dissertation rather than a blog entry.

Bursting at the seams, I feel like Adam in Paradise Lost when Raphael warned:

 “But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less

Her Temperance over Appetite, to know

In measure what the mind may well contain,

Oppresses else with Surfeit, and soon turns

Wisdom to Folly, as Nourishment to Wind.”

 Now that consumers have developed an excessive craving for conversation, education and details, what makes for a successful online interaction?

Just like biting into a juicy apple, you want to give your consumer digestible bits of information.

As marketers, we need to get out of broadcast mode where we craft our talking points, add some nice graphics or even a video, and post content to the web as another means of pushing out our messages. As The Cluetrain Manifesto laments, we’re still treating the online market as “eyeballs” rather than as people engaged in conversation.

Similar to chatting it up with a fellow attendee at a conference, you need to have a genuine delivery that leads to a positive exchange of ideas and dialogue. Not too much information where you overwhelm the other person and turn them off. Rather, the right balance of content that leaves them satisfied – and wanting seconds.

I can keep serving up my sampling of the conference, but what are you craving? Click brochure to get an overview of the SHSMD 2010 conference. Then, send me a note at kcionek@adamsgroup.com and tell me what topic you would like discussed next.

SHSMD 2010 Conference: Healthcare on the Winds of Change

September 14, 2010

Karolynn Cionek reports from the SHSMD  trenches:

One could easily assume the theme of the annual AHA conference in Chicago was selected to address the changing role of the healthcare industry as it relates to the impending Health Reform.

However, as I delved into workshops and chatted with fellow attendees, it quickly became apparent that the underlying current was addressing change as it relates to the communications landscape.

After decades of media stasis, the online arena has fundamentally changed how we communicate with our consumers.  

Traditional, offline strategies relied heavily on interruption and coercion to push information out to the masses. Now, consumers are expecting marketers to pull rather than push by delivering useful content at the precise moment they need it.

A 2009 Pew survey reported 61 percent of American adults look online for health information. Thomas McCormally of Cincinnati Children’s, led the Storytelling and Multi-media workshop to further explain that, of those online, 59 percent have done at least one of the following activities:

  • Read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities
  • Signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues
  • Listened to a podcast about health or medical issues

The Web has become a trusted source for people trying to make a decision or solve a problem – particularly when it comes to healthcare.

That last sentence is key to understanding what exactly changed in the communications landscape: trust. Disruption is being replaced by engagement, persuasion by influence of trusted sources.  

With millions of one-way, seller-spun advertisements bombarding us on a daily basis, even in healthcare, we eventually became numb to the noise. We quickly tired of being sold, turned off and stopped trusting advertising.

With advancements in online technology, marketers have a new opportunity to connect to consumers. Rather than drilling down messages into the lowest-common denominator, you can now interact, inform, educate and provide details that were lacking in the broad reaching techniques of yesterday.

While traditional offline outlets remain vital aspects of an overall marketing campaign, the change comes in acknowledging the new consumer wants more substance. They expect a dialogue.

 As a marketer how are you adapting to this new environment?

Nike+ Unleashes a Data-driven Revolution

September 10, 2010

I think anyone who actually admits to enjoying running can legitimately call themselves a runner. A few years ago, I would have never called myself a runner. An iPod and Nike+ changed that.

Nike+ is a sensor system created by Nike and Apple that works with an iPod and the Nike+ website to track a runner’s data – distance, pace, caloric burn and more – over time. According to this 2009 Wired article, Nike, through Nike+, has gathered the largest community of runners ever assembled — more than 1.2 million runners who have collectively tracked more than 130 million miles and burned more than 13 billion calories. And those are last year’s numbers.

Amassing loads of data has uncovered interesting running stats. Like that people in the US run more often in winter than those in Europe and Africa. More often, but for shorter distances. That the average duration of a run worldwide is 35 minutes. The most popular day to run? Sunday. Even the songs we most often choose for extra amps of power.

You can track your data on the website, and even broadcast run stats on Twitter and Facebook. And why on Earth would anyone want to do that? The article explains something called the Hawthorne Effect. The theory that people change their behavior — often for the better — when they are being observed. An effect you can see in real-time on millions of Facebook statuses each day.

Did Nike and Apple create Nike+ to sell more stuff? Of course. But they have not rested on their leading-edge laurels. The products have evolved and the product line has grown. The irritating shoe sensor is now history thanks to a new GPS-utilizing software app that launched this week.

In a few short years, Nike has done more than sell more pairs of shoes. They have created a worldwide community of millions that are engaged and excited about running. A strategy that will surely pay dividends in the long run.

SCHA Social Media Workshop – The Afternoon Sessions

June 24, 2010

There’s more to getting started in social media than hashtags and status updates. There are hard truths that need to be examined. Or buzzkills, as one speaker so eloquently labeled himself. In other words, plan and prepare.

ROI
First up, does social media even make sense for your organization? Reed and Ed co-led a thoughtful discussion on ROI and social media. There are a few ways you can frame ROI with social media. Including:

  • Social media metrics (number of followers, message reach, number of fans, interactions)
  • Direct value (resulting new patients via word of mouth, word of mouse and direct interaction)
  • Indirect value (service recovery, customer service, brand monitoring, media and community outreach, patient education, recruitment, employee retention and crisis communications)

Ed pointed out that with such a small entry cost and little capital investment required, any value is ROI. The main real cost will end up being time. He also cautioned that ROI can’t just measure sheer numbers, the quality of interactions themselves have value.

With many healthcare facilities and processes getting a bad rap for being behind the times, social media is an excellent place to be fresh and modern. Whether it’s apologizing for an errant bill or ownership of a frustrated consumer’s problem, most consumers are surprised, amazed and appreciative that someone is listening. And not all interactions are bad, typically there are more positive ones that can recharge a tired nurse or department.

Still not convinced there’s value? Think about the exact ROI of services such as pastoral care, front desk staff, groundskeepers and housekeeping staff. Or, as Ed said quoting David Scott, “What’s the ROI for putting your pants on in the morning?”

Ed and Reed agreed there are certain services that are expected in this day and age, it’s part of doing business. Just as websites are now the norm, they both believe social media will become part of the typical consumer’s expectations.

Legal Issues
Next came Michael Shetterly from Ogletree Deakins Law Firm with a sobering and entertaining discussion of social media ramifications. He likened the evolving, ever-moving social media realm to giving your employees the keys to the car. Social media is so new and changing so fast, the Supreme Court has only had two cases that involve social media and one of them happened last week.

What areas must be considered when implementing social media? A lot. FTC guidelines. HIPAA. Privacy of staff, patients and the lady in the background of your hilarious hand-washing video. Copyright. PHI. Not to mention employee use of social media, web and texting.

Michael advised organizations to keep their social media guidelines and employee use guidelines up to date and very specific. Revise policies to reflect use of social media and blogs and to insulate against liability. Be sure to share policies with all employees and offer real-use training.

Panel Discussion
Last on the agenda was a panel discussion. The panel featured a range of hospitals and personnel including:

  • Andy Busam, Public Relations, Coordinator, Randolph Hospital
  • Dr. David Geier, Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, MUSC
  • Sally Foister, Director of Marketing Services, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center
  • Ronda Wilson, Marketing and Communications Director, Georgetown Hospital System

So let’s start the sharing right here, Social Media Revolutionaries. What were your biggest takeaways from the panel discussion?

Social Media Listening

June 22, 2010

One of the greatest benefits of social media participation is the opportunity it gives you to listen. Listen to what “fans” are saying about your business and industry. Listen to customers’ (and potential customers’) topics of interest at any given time. Listen to understand what’s working in the market and what isn’t. Listen to what competitors are saying and what’s being said about them.

All you have to do to open your ears is activate an account. This listening phase is a perfect entrance to social media efforts. It’s time to grasp the opportunities and etiquette of social media such as Facebook and Twitter if you’re unfamiliar with them. Time to activate free tools such as Google alerts. Time to develop a social media strategy and processes for resolution before going “live” with your efforts.

Radian 6 has a great eBook on activating a social media effort.

Rather than hitting the ground tweeting, take a few weeks to stretch, warm up and acclimate to new media. This readying phase will likely uncover activists and detractors alike as well as what’s being said about you or your competitors.

That knowledge is a great foundation to build social media efforts upon.

Brand Security

June 8, 2010

A company’s brand is fragile. On the grand scale, it can be severely damaged by a bad event – i.e BP. But, it can be equally destructive on a very small scale.

I recently had a sales rep knock on my door selling home security systems. This was not the “big one” that everyone knows, so they were trying to make their mark by offering a fairly comprehensive system for free as long as you put their sign out front. I was very interested. I had been considering getting a system since I moved in two years ago. When he stopped by I was on my way out, so I asked him to come by in two days, on Thursday, when I would have more time.

Thursday comes and goes and he doesn’t show. Friday, I’m packing up to leave town for the weekend when he stops by and I tell him again this isn’t a good time, come back Monday. I was already getting a little irked because he told me he had not stopped by Thursday because they were installing two systems in the area. This didn’t sit right with me since I don’t see why the sales rep would have anything to do with installation.

Well, that was the last I saw of him. He has yet to return, but it doesn’t matter now. This security company is off my list. I consider trust and reliability to be the top values in a security company, and this sales rep displayed little of both. To me, a sales rep is an extension of a company. So, if he comes back, thanks, but no thanks.

I think this is a perfect example of how even strong brands can sabotage themselves. The easily protected pieces of a brand such as a logo or tagline are a small part of an overall brand image. A company’s reputation and products or services are paramount, and they are always exposed.

It would be wise to evaluate all of your company’s “touch points”, like sales reps, to ensure their actions and intentions ring true with your brand values and message. Doubly wise if a touch point is entrusted with your brand’s first impression with consumers.


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