Brand building: Catalysing growth prospects
An attractive logo and a catchy punch line create an awareness of the brand among the masses, but the best form of advertising is through word of mouth. A brand is strong when its competitors are clueless about how to counter its image.
A brand encompasses the entire business system. It goes beyond the name, logo and colour scheme. Branding is not the job of the marketing department alone. In fact, it would be risky to relinquish the charge of the entire business system to the marketing department. It is the top management which must have absolute control of the brand. This will ensure that the delivery of the brand is monitored consistently through all departments.
Building a brand is the business of everyone who is involved in the system-from the doctors and nurses of a hospital to the X-ray technician and the ambulance driver. Everyone should be engaged in creating and delivering the brand.
A million dollar question is how transforming one’s business into a brand can catapult him/her in the fast lane, ahead of competition? Summarised here are the benefits of branding.
Create a unique image
A strong brand image is a nightmare for all its competitors. The competitors are often clueless about the ways to counter a strong brand. If they are wise, they will survive by not putting up a fight head on. Marketing is all about perception. Branding cements one’s perception in a way that is most useful to the owner. For example, if a hospital is branded as the most reliable centre for cancer treatment in the minds of people, it will be difficult for someone else to displace it from that position.
Get spoken about
It is surprising to learn how many times coffee table discussions among people are about brands? People would talk about the care of the nursing staff or the aesthetic appeal of the interiors of the hospital. More and more people will become aware of the brand, and that too free of cost. The best advertisement for a brand is through an independent recommendation from its advocates.
Enjoy high loyalty
Not only brands are spoken about, they also tend to do more repeat business than others. The likelihood of a patient returning for a repeat visit after his/her antibiotic course is far higher in a hospital that is a brand. The fact that with the advent of health insurance, people now have a wider choice, should always be kept in mind. People can now use ‘cashless’ card to choose the best brand.
Harness price premium
It is a well-known fact that brands are more expensive, yet we buy them. A hospital will not want people to buy more than what is needed because that would be unethical. However, one can always charge a premium for the brand.
Benefit from lower staff attrition
The staff turnover is less at a company that is a brand. Everyone wants to work for a brand. People take pride in working for those who have managed to create a name for themselves. Thus, branding helps in retaining not only external customers but also the internal employees.
How can a winning brand be created and sustained in order to create an insurmountable strategic advantage? The question is simple, but requires a rather intricate answer.
Find what people need
Sometimes, the characteristic that one discovers as his/her essence may not be what people would actually like to have. This creates a need for introspection again. There is a need to find ways to make this essence resonate with the target audience.
What would be impossible to replicate?
One important point is that long-term brand advantage can only be created by creating brand systems that are next to impossible to replicate. For example, Wal Mart has a supply chain system, which its competitors have not been able to decode till date. This is the biggest strength of that brand.
Shape and identity
Name, logo, house colours, service experience, slogans, etc come into picture at this point. Every attribute is given a shape based on what the brand stands for. The shape makes the brand palpable.
Contrary to popular belief, it may not always require large amount of money. However, whatever is the investment made, it must earn the company the maximum value for the money spent.
Make it consistent
A brand is always consistent. Further, if a hospital provides patient-friendly service, the smile should be there on every employee’s lips 24×7.
Measure growth and take corrective actions
There is a constant need to measure brand awareness, brand recognition & recall, brand loyalty, etc.
The times in the healthcare industry are changing swiftly. Insurance penetration, increasing competition, shortage of doctors & nurses and several other factors affect the growth of the players in this business, for good or for worse.
Building a strong brand is a strategic option that these players can ignore at their own peril. In other words, a slogan in favour of branding could be – ‘Brand wagon, jump on it!’