David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising stated, “Any damn fool can put up a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”
The healthcare industry is about to embark on a brand-building mission. The competition is fierce, the customers are more informed, the market shares are being aggressively sought and new markets are being constantly searched.
The topic of brand building, for the most part, was not being looked into by hospital owners and promoters. Blame it on arrogance, ignorance or laziness; but brand building is about to arrive in a big way. Too bad if some people are too arrogant, oblivious or lazy.
For most of us, brand means the name by which a company’s product or service is sold. If you look closely, it is not just the name, it is also the associations which accompany the name of a particular product/service. For example, Apollo Hospitals is not just a mere name; there are a lot of things that automatically that come to mind as soon as we hear the name Apollo.
It is really intriguing to know that every brand has a personality, character, tone of voice, its own style etc. I still remember my first lecture on brand management in business school. When the professor asked us, “What animal comes to mind when you think of a Maruti 800 car?” We all thought she might just have returned from a zoo or a circus and she is not over it as yet. After we established that Maruti 800 is a ‘clever and quick fox’, she wanted to know what kind of a person a Tata truck would be, if it were a human being. Brand management became more intriguing after we created a human personality of a tall, strong, rural man with a moustache for a Tata truck.
The purpose of citing these examples is for healthcare promoters and marketers to know that every brand has a personality. The useful thing to know would be that the brand image will get created whether or not you consciously create it. People will have an opinion about your hospital, whether you create it or not. A smart businessman creates his own image rather than wait for it to be formed automatically. Moreover, with advent of communication systems and enhanced education levels, the reputation travels at enormous speed.
A few basic ways to create and manage your brand equity in this crowded marketplace are as follows:
Every brand has some associations to it. MacDonalds is known for kids, fun, Mac burger, cleanliness and efficiency. These are the associations with MacDonalds. Similarly, Deccan Airlines is cheap, no-frills airline. Your hospital can be associated with one or more of the following attributes like latest technologies, friendly attitude, honesty, promptness, focus on one super speciality, heritage and culture of service.
Once you are clear about the associations you need to create about your brand, you will need to consider the ways in which these associations will be manifested. For instance, if you are considering to be recognised by your rich heritage in serving the humanity for the last 20 years, here is what you can do to build a brand around that: