Late last week I had a conversation with a friend about her organization’s brand (a large healthcare organization). She has battled valiantly to have her leadership view branding as an organizational priority but has met with resistance. From my experience, this isn’t an unusual challenge.
One of our jobs as marketers is to help leadership understand that the brand is a strategic asset similar to the organization’s balance sheet and financial health. Based on my experience, it can be difficult to have leadership see the organization’s brand as assets that are key to the organization’s well-being. (Employees are another asset that is often overlooked or devalued.)
Here’s the deal: a messy or confused brand is a liability. It shows one of two things: 1) either your leadership has its head in the sand and doesn’t understand the value of a well-established brand; or 2) your leadership is weak and unwilling to have the hard conversations necessary to bring together a strong, consolidated brand. So which is it? Neither is a good thing.
Your leadership should want to have a strong, well-defined brand that you can assert in the marketplace. In this ages of healthcare partnerships, affiliations, mergers, and joint ventures, you want to be able to go to the table with a powerful brand on your side of the negotiation. You want to have clear brand guidelines along with a clear map for how you handle affiliations from a branding and marketing perspective. The partners you are negotiating with will likely not be prepared in the same way. This means you can drive the branding and marketing conversation – and end up as the lead brand in the partnership. I’ve marketed a ton of hospital, medical group, and clinical affiliations in my day and rarely does an organization come to the table with formal brand guidelines for an affiliation; if you do, it will be to your advantage.
My point is this: It is worth your time to have hard brand conversations with your leadership. Your organization’s brand is just as important as your balance sheet and bond rating, and your medical staff. It can be a tremendous asset in any number of ways if you invest the energy in nurturing it.