Creating A Brand And Brand Culture: You Don’t Have To Be Big To Get It!

Andrew-Simon2Last week I attended the 18th National Summit on Healthcare Marketing Strategies, consisting of 3 days of meetings which included both general sessions as well as breakout meetings centered around: Strategic Marketing, Customer Communication, Physician Strategies, Patient Experience and Interactive Strategies. You know, the usual stuff. Although some of this “stuff” was really good.

Unfortunately, some people were already packing their bags and heading out of town the morning of the last day. Sorry to tell them, but “you folks missed a terrific presentation entitled ’Your Healthcare Organization is Only as Good As Its Promise.’”

This presentation was delivered by Duane Knapp, CEO of BrandStrategy Inc., and Vince Oliver, CEO of Island Hospital, a tiny 43-bed hospital in Anacortes, Washington. At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we do a significant amount of branding and rebranding work across multi verticals including healthcare. So I am in a position to tell you that these guys really got it!

In effect, these two gentlemen were calling for a paradigm shift in how people view brands and brandings. And that creating a value for a brand means doing serious branding or rebranding work. Mr. Knapp said that to create a genuine brand, there are multi steps that are necessary: brand assessment, brand promise, brand blueprint and brand culture.

It was also interesting to note that when I went to the web to look up Duane Knapp, I found that his firm, BrandStrategy Inc., works in partnership with senior executives of the client organizations. That makes a hell of a lot of sense, because only when senior leadership is committed to change does a brand strategy truly work. That is because without top-down commitment, it is too easy to wander off course!

I found this course of engagement particularly appealing since at Simon Associates we tell our clients that when you are branding or rebranding, real commitment is required and everyone needs to get on board. Why is this? Because brand and rebranding activities require effort both outside AND inside the organization.

Vince Oliver, President of Island Hospital who has partnered with Mr. Knapp, talked about the need to stick to the culture, the brand. He talked about the appropriate need to “onboard” people so that they understand the brand promise: “Your best healthcare experience begins at Island Hospital. We always place your emotional and medical needs first and foremost.” Obviously, this requires that everyone in the institution must conform to the culture and the brand. And as Mr. Oliver said, some people get it, some need to be retrained to get it, and some never get it and are encouraged to leave the organization. Pretty smart and when you think about it…logical stuff.

Just a little footnote to the presentation of last week: with the change in healthcare coming rapidly, I read an article in the NY Times, dated May 13, 2013, about potential hospital mergers in the State of Washington with Island Hospital as part of the mix. So the question becomes: in a merger mix, can Island Hospital maintain its brand? Stay tuned!

But regardless of the ultimate outcome, thank you Duane and Vince for a wonderful presentation!