By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare
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:
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:
Gradually introducing the change.
Tweak, e.g., size, color, change logo
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identity is outdated, the dynamics in the marketplace, etc.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 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.
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
One company, one voice
Do not base on premise.
Keep in mind that people still reflect on their old identities
Continuously translate the message.
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
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
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.
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare
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
So … when was the last time you invited IT developers to your
marketing strategy meeting - before your marketing strategy was
Inviting IT to the table early in the game has benefits we
marketers can't afford to miss, as these survey results
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
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.
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare
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.
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
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
More than 9 in 10 CMOs believe custom content has a
positive effect on audience attitudes, strengthening the bond with
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.