Rebranding: What’s in a Name?

Posted on August 1, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

In a dynamic environment where customers' needs and wants, industry standards, and strategic priorities are constantly evolving, how do you keep your corporate brand relevant and sustain its appeal? Today, the knee-jerk response tends to be: "Rebrand."

Take it from someone who has been around the brand/rebrand block several times (successfully): Before you "re" anything related to your organization's hard-earned image, take a step back and look at the big picture.

Renaming: Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary

A rebranding strategy may come with the decision to rename the company. There are two strategies to consider:

  • Evolutionary:
    • Gradually introducing the change.
    • Tweak, e.g., size, color, change logo
  • Revolutionary
    • Immediate introduction.
    • Based on a new strategic focus, a perception that the corporate identity is outdated, the dynamics in the marketplace, etc.

Making the decision

Corporate rebranding is an expensive exercise and risks the danger of potentially nullifying years of marketing effort in building the equity of your organization. It is at times, however, critical for sustaining competitive advantage in light of changing corporate priorities.

Corporate brands target multiple stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, suppliers, partners, regulators, special interest groups and local communities.

Key problem areas in corporate renaming

Stakeholders are likely to have different associations and expectations. When renaming an organization, managers need to be sensitive to a much wider spectrum of attitudes, as well as pre-existing associations within the organization and the community. There are four key problem areas:

  • Disconnecting with the core
    • Consider the expectations of the organization's different stakeholder groups in relation to the new corporate name.
    • Understand how each stakeholder group perceives the name and identify the importance of various company characteristics.
  • Stakeholder myopia
    • Balance focus between shareholders and employees.
    • Live the brand.
  • Emphasis on labels, not meanings
    • Do not place more emphasis on developing new labels for the corporate brand than translating these into new meanings for the staff.
  • One company, one voice
    • Do not base on premise.
    • Keep in mind that people still reflect on their old identities and cultures.
    • Continuously translate the message.

Risk exposure

When renaming a company, risk and conflict are inevitable. If you do change your name, what will it communicate to your stakeholders: growth, weakness, opportunity, confidence? There is no simple formula to determine if the organization will benefit from a name change or not, but it's important to consider the following before making the leap one way or another:

  • Think about your stakeholders (inside and outside). What is the current perception of your name? What is the extent of current brand equity? Some of these answers can come from research, but some can only come from inside the organization. Do you want to invest in research?  Are you willing to take a risk?
  • Evolution / revolution. Sometimes a major change is better when done gradually versus immediately. People do not like change, good or bad. If the idea of making an immediate change is beyond your risk tolerance level, begin slowly. Start by changing colors and font. Next, change the logo. Then begin talking to your internal stakeholders about your plans to change the name. Let them know what will happen and when. Then tell your customers and prospective customers of the change. The rest of the public will learn about it eventually.
  • Consider the overall make-up of your organization, not just the name itself. Is your mission, story, and tagline up to date? If it is really a fresh start, do not slap a coat of paint over rotten boards. Rethink logo, tagline, website, brand story, signage, and all facets of corporate identity. Are you adhering to-or breaking from-tradition? Will the design sensibility of your new identity speak of sophistication, stability, cutting edge, and/or comfort?
  • Make sure you will not have to do it again soon. Did you outgrow your name? Could that happen again next year? Will the new name account for future acquisitions or redirections?
  • Are you supporting multiple brands (clinics, specialties, etc.)? Should you link them or keep them apart? Can you afford to maintain multiple identities?
  • Focus on your prospects. Company insiders can be easily convinced. Current customers, distributors, vendors, and partners are a finite audience, and you can talk to them clearly, directly, and often. Prospects are your lever for growth, so manage their perceptions above almost every other audience.
  • Pay attention to SEO and social media. SEO for the ability to get your new name in front of prospects; social media to make sure that the increased visibility is adding to and improving your reputation. Reputation management is a crucial component of a successful renaming. Don't be satisfied with good awareness numbers. The game is not over if people know you, but don't care.
  • Outsource the process. Company naming is not your basic business, not your core competency, so a branding agency will bring valuable objectivity. You'll also benefit from their experience with processes, budgets, timetables, trademark laws, design, and minefields.

The recent surge in company rebranding campaigns clearly demonstrates that change is inherent in contemporary brand management. Is it time for your organization to reinvent itself or simply make a few tweaks? Don't answer that question - until you've taken a step back and looked at the big picture.

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Does Health Reform Have Your Head Spinning?

Posted on August 8, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent or some other political leaning, I don't think there's much argument we need healthcare reform.  Where we start to differ is defining what healthcare reform is and should be, and what the role of government is in making changes.  And, of course, there's cost - cost of reform and cost of doing nothing.

All those issues aside for a moment, we do have healthcare reform legislation approved - and affirmed by a recent Supreme Court ruling.  As consumers or business owners, we need to understand its impact.  Unless you're different than me, I don't have time to read hundreds of pages of legislation.  Unfortunately, politicians who vote on legislation also make the same argument, a troubling revelation.  And we certainly don't want to rely on the media to provide an informed and objective view.  It's up to us to educate ourselves.

As healthcare marketers, we all need to be on top of the issue, so we can be proactive - and reactive - in our communications.  We can't effectively inform others if we don't first learn ourselves.

To get you on the right track, I'd suggest watching this video.  It's a great overview and successfully simplifies a complex issue.  I'll say that it does provide a bit of a slant regarding the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and doesn't provide much detail on opposing views or efforts in place to repeal current legislation.  Nonetheless, this isn't its purpose.  The video puts the issue into perspective and reinforces, in my opinion, the need for reform.  You might not agree with the legislation, or some of the arguments supporting it; however, the first step is understanding where we are.  As I'm sure you do, I see and hear a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle, and the truth is usually somewhere in-between.

The video isn't the end-all.  But it should certainly be part of your learning library.  So, watch and learn.  I'd love to hear your feedback.

Source: Kaiser's Health Reform Source

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How to Capture Top-Notch Physician Sound Bites

Posted on August 15, 2012

nicolehangartner_head2-e1335213473498By: Nicole Hangartner, Account Executive Legato Healthcare Marketing

Whether you're filming a physician bio video or a video newsletter, or simply conducting a physician interview, here are three easy ways to get the stellar sound bites you need.


1. Put them at ease…

Start the interview with something easy and personal like family and hobbies. These topics not only reduce a physician's camera-anxiety, but they can lead to interesting and personable sound bites or they may become your story or video's lead.

In addition to family and hobbies, ask your physician questions such as:

  • Why did you decide to become a doctor?
  • What do you enjoy about living/practicing in this area?
  • Do you have any memorable patients?

2. Give them some prompts…

Before you dive into all your questions, let the physician know the main points you want to get out of the interview. This will help him or her to formulate answers.

Then when you start hitting questions about these main points, ask the physician to repeat a prompt before giving his or her answer. This ensures your sound bites are more conversational and less interrogational.

Here's an example from a video we produced about the anterior approach to hip replacement.

Question: What are the benefits of the anterior approach to hip replacement vs. more traditional approaches?

Prompt: The main benefits of the anterior approach are…

3. Ask them for different perspectives…

When asking more technical or medical questions, have the physician answer from a few different perspectives. This gives you some options for sound bites that vary in tone, depth of detail and potential uses.

Let's look back to the question about the anterior approach benefits. During the interview, we asked the physician about the patient benefits and learned that these include smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time. But when we asked about the physician benefits, we found out that this approach allows surgeons to use active x-ray control in the operating room to ensure the most accurate hip placement.

By asking the same question from different perspectives, you've gathered two distinct sound bites.

Where does your healthcare organization use physician sound bites?

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What Does IT Have to Do With Marketing?

Posted on August 22, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

Right brain creatives working with left brain techies? What's the marketing world coming to?

While Marketing and IT departments rarely collaborated in the past, evolving new media channels are calling for a meeting of the minds - and fast. According to a recent IBM survey of CMOs and CIOs, 60% of marketers say their biggest obstacle in reaching today's consumers is their lack of alignment with the company's IT department.

So … when was the last time you invited IT developers to your marketing strategy meeting - before your marketing strategy was finalized?

Inviting IT to the table early in the game has benefits we marketers can't afford to miss, as these survey results indicate:

  • When asked how they are using online visitor data, 65% of survey respondents say they are doing the basics: reporting and analyzing their data. But:
    • Only one third are using this data to target one-to-one offers or messages in digital channel.
    • Less than 20% are using this online data to make one-to-one offers in traditional channels.
  • 76% of marketers either drive the purchasing decisions for marketing software or collaborate with IT; 48% believe improved technology infrastructure or software will enable marketers to do more.

While the thought of hardware/software-based discussions may seem a bit mundane for us high-energy creative types, technology offers exciting opportunities for marketers. Technology is, after all, the foundation of many key areas of marketing, especially new channels like digital, websites and social media. For instance, some reports show online sales via mobile devices up 300% for 2011 as compared to 2010.

As marketing channels continue to evolve and grow, collaboration between leaders on both sides of the aisle (i.e., CMOs and CIOs) is imperative. CIOs are respected analysts who fully understand the potential and implications of technology. CMOs are growth- and market-driven brand experts with an external lens. Together, we can better serve the demands of digitally adept consumers who can ultimately drive - or dive - revenue growth.

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Custom Content Is King

Posted on August 29, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

How do marketers effectively engage today's busy consumer?

That's a million dollar question that prompts a plethora of responses. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, the fact is:  You can't fight the facts.  And the facts speak loud and clear in favor of custom content.

"Custom content" or "brand content" is generally created to build an affinity with an  existing audience. It is meant to reinforce an organization's brand, communicate the value of a product or service and strengthen customer relationships.

But how?

By providing consumers with content that is relevant to their unique interests, and provides value to their personal and professional lives. Put simply: Give consumers what they want, and you'll get noticed. Just ask them.

In a 2011 Roper study, Consumers' Attitudes Toward Custom Content:

  • 7 in 10 consumers said they like custom content because it is tailored to their specific interests.
  • Two-thirds said the information provided by custom media helps them make better purchase decisions.
  • More than half said they are more willing to buy another product from a company that provides them with custom media.
  • More than three-quarters said they understand that companies are selling something this way, but feel it is okay since the information provided is valuable.

Line this data up against your hospital's current marketing plan. Does your strategy include custom content newsletters and publications? It should.

That's not just my personal opinion. It's solid marketing advice - based on successful custom content marketing done for our clients - and on additional research. And since I seem to be in left-brain-mode today, allow me to share just a few more survey results that make a case for custom content.

Another 2011 Roper study surveyed CMOs in major industry sectors including healthcare, technology, finance, retail, communications and insurance, to identify their attitudes toward content marketing. The study revealed:

  • 83% are receptive toward using custom content in their marketing plans.
  • More than 9  in 10 CMOs believe custom content has a positive effect on audience attitudes, strengthening the bond with consumers.
  • 91% agree that custom content should be an integral part of the marketing mix for any business.

I'm not saying that print is the be-all and end-all medium when it comes to custom content. Not by a long shot. Custom content can - and should - be developed across multiple media platforms. In fact, any effective marketing plan will include custom content created for and delivered through multiple channels, including social media and online videos. No matter how it's delivered, the fact is: Custom content is king.

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