If brands are to be human than they cannot expect a single statement or look to define their brand identity. Just as people are defined not by one instance, but by a way of life, brands must live and breathe their values consistently overtime to earn the trust of consumers and deliver on brand promise.
The Gap Between Statements and Performance
It’s a lot easier to say something than it is to actually do it. Almost anyone can make declarative statements. Only some will actually follow through. The gap between what we say and do can be wide.
As a culture, we’ve come up with a lot of sayings that describe this situation:
“Don’t believe everything you hear.”
“Walk the walk, talk the talk.”
“Talk is cheap.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
“Practice what you preach.”
“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”
The Importance of Brand Promise
The same concepts apply to brands. It’s not enough for brands to make statements. They have to follow through. They must communicate values through actions. Building a strong brand identity requires proving a brand promise through the entire collection of brand experiences. When brands don’t follow through, a lot is at stake. If you don’t deliver on your brand promise, you risk losing credibility, trust, and loyalty.
– it’s hard to build and easy to lose. If you lose credibility in one context, you risk losing it in all contexts.
– trust is critical to building relationships with long-term clients.
When people trust a brand:
83% will recommend it to other people.
82% will use its products and services frequently.
78% will look to it first for the things they want.
87% will give its new products and services a chance.
50% will pay more for its products and services.
Strong Brands and Believability – Google vs. Microsoft
Think about Microsoft’s “Bing it On” campaign, which tried to persuade people to believe that real people chose Bing’s search results over Google. It didn’t work. Google’s brand is just too strong. Search Engine Land’s Greg Stirling described the immunity of Google’s brand in an article titled, “Better Than Google” Claims: Why Doesn’t Anyone Believe Them?”
“The combination of Google’s brand strength, the perception that nobody can match its search R&D, as well as the public’s comfort with the Google UX (“the Google habit”) make assailing Google with any sort of “evidence” extremely difficult. Indeed, the majority of the public (perhaps especially bloggers and the tech press) seems all but immune to the notion that anything could possibly outperform Google.”
Managing Healthcare Brand Touchpoints
But how can healthcare brands learn from this? You might be saying to yourself, “oh that’s easy for Google to do,” or, “those are consumer-facing brands with products that are easier to sell, I have a more complicated buying process and more stakeholders to please.”
Resist the temptation to come up with excuses about why a healthcare brand could somehow evade the rules for trust, loyalty, and credibility. These principles hold age-old truths.
Many companies mistakenly think that one campaign, one website, or one ad can define the brand. Each communication is one piece of a mosaic. To have a true brand identity, companies need to be dedicated to creating and maintaining the brand across all touch points with a mindset toward the greater picture.
Healthcare companies must remember to focus on the brand by aligning the brand promise with the brand experience at all touch points.
Companies need brand strategies to ensure that every marketing interaction delivers on the brand promise and is aligned with overall business objectives.
Strong brands build brand identity and deliver on the brand promise through:
Dedication to building brand identity over time.
Commitment to providing a consistent brand experience.
Alignment between messaging and the customer’s actual experiences with the brand.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.