The importance of brand

With the Five Year Forward view we are all being encouraged to take greater ownership of our healthcare and to make more dynamic decisions about who looks after us. We are all challenging organisations, even those in healthcare, to work harder to create a compelling brand with specific behaviours and characteristics. We are all looking for a brand that not only encourages loyalty but one that starts to reach out and engage with us so that we not only build a relationship with them but continue to choose them.

Here, our Head of Planning Sarah Purcell discusses our brand model and how it became what it is today.

Let’s call it out.  Let’s address, or redress, the brand model.

Let’s chop up the onion, topple the pyramid, step off the platform, throw away the key and roll away the wheel.

Let’s look at what a really useful brand model needs to contain.  Or first look at what we are actually trying to achieve.

How can you model something if you don’t know what it is? So before you can write a simple model to help create a good brand, you need a simple explanation.

The word brand used to mean ‘identification’. This is why it is still common for people to think of brand as just a logo or a set of colours. These are the simplest ways to differentiate a business. Coke is red, Pepsi is blue; simple.

But differentiation is key to a successful business. It is the reason that a customer chooses one business’ products or services over another.

There are many ways that customers can differentiate between businesses that compete for their attention. Packaging, tone of voice, customer service, product design, social media, ethics, price, attitude or aspirations.  All of these elements can be considered part of the brand. So what do they have in common?

Every one of these elements says something about the business. The packaging, the tone of voice, the colours, the product or the customer service all communicate how the business intends to behave. Cheap packaging suggests a cheap product, poor manufacturing ethics suggests they treat all people poorly and good design suggests attention to detail and quality products.

With every action you say something. Every package, email, tweet, poster, product and post is part of a conversation with a business’ audience.

When you think of it like that the key questions are;

  • What am I saying?

You’re saying, to your audience, why they would want to buy your products. You might be saying they taste great, they’re thirst quenching, they’re cheap, they’re reliable, they’ll make you fitter, they’ll make you faster or they’ll make you a whole new person.

No matter what you’re saying, if you’re confident and consistent in what you’re saying, it’ll be clear to your customers why they should choose you. This raises the next question;

  • Why should they believe you?

We are often asked the question ‘why do we need a brand?’  The answer.  You don’t need a brand.  You need a trusted brand.  Trusted brands get more from customers. When a brand is trusted 83% of people will recommend you, 82% will use your services regularly, 78% will come to you first, 78% will give new products a chance, 50% will pay more for your services*.

Our research with one client showed that customers who engaged with the brand before buying (instead of going directly from product to purchase) were twice as likely to convert and spent 15% more than their product-only counterparts.

So how do you achieve trust?

What do these brands do?  They make a promise to their customers. One that is true to the business, relevant to all audiences and unique in their marketplace.  They know who they are. They capture and bottle their own behaviour, are assured of their personality and deliver it consistently.  They have a defined set of values which they demonstrate conceptually and tangibly.

This led us to create a simple equation, shown in the model below:

Why is this any different to those traditional models that brought such ire?

It’s simpler. It’s more memorable.  It is designed to encourage conciseness and ensure that every word used has nowhere to hide.  That each one has to be judged and made more applicable to the brand in question.

It works. We’ve tested it on over 20 brands.  And like all simple things, it just makes more sense.  And it cries out to be used and followed, not left on a shelf to gather dust.

It acts like a one-page brief for our creative team to develop brands because it tells you pretty much all you need to know.

So it’s actually really useful.  Now, what to call it?  How about The Really Useful brand model.  Let’s not make it any more complicated than that.