A Hospital Brand That Transcends Market Forces

The following is reprinted with permission from AchieveIt.

The Achilles heel for most hospital brands these days is the fact that they are built upon statistics. The two most common brand platforms — customer service and clinical outcomes — are often reliant on patient satisfaction scores, core measure data, HealthGrades rankings and the like. And why not? Objective, third-party data is always better than hollow claims of superiority.

But what happens when the market shifts? What is the impact to your brand when patient satisfaction falls, or the competition's scores surpass your own? Where do you turn when your brand — based on clinical outcomes and medical staff performance — is suddenly under attack because of a headline-raising event?

These are strategic planning issues faced by every company that built its brand around celebrity endorsements. Pepsi-Cola with Michael Jackson. Hertz with OJ. Kmart with Martha Stewart. And, most recently, Accenture, Nike, Gillette and Gatorade with Tiger.

And they will eventually be issues faced by every hospital built around market data. At some point, the market changes, and your brand has to hightail it out of town.

So how do you prevent this likely brand demise?

Simple. Build a brand that transcends market forces.

Sounds mystical, doesn't it? But it is relatively quite easy. If the brand is built upon the organization's personality, values, operational philosophy or some other organizational attribute, it can make itself immune to market conditions.

Take, for instance, a hospital brand not built on clinical superiority, but on the experience and commitment of its people. This was a strategy deployed by Avis, which built a brand on its "we try harder" mantra. It didn't matter whether Avis was No. 1 or No. 2 in the market, nor did it matter if it was ever awarded a single J.D. Power customer satisfaction trophy. Avis was laying claim to an organizational value that was elevated to a brand position. Only Avis could sabotage its brand, and it never has. The "we try harder" brand was launched in 1962 and will soon celebrate its 50th birthday. How's that for market transcendence?

Now, imagine your own hospital brand being wrapped around the experience and commitment of your staff. No one — and no organization — can strip you of these attributes. Commitment and experience are yours to own or give away. They do not rely on market superiority to succeed, or volume supremacy, Magnet hospital status, nationally leading patient satisfaction statistics or any other measure that the competition might claim.

Certainly, you have to deliver on the brand. But if you do, yours will be a brand that really does elevate itself out of reach of market forces.

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