Monday, August 4, 2008

Branding a Clinic

I'm back again this week with more lessons from Gallup. In my continuing posts on the book Best of the Gallup Management Journal I want to discuss a entire section devoted to branding. In advertising terms branding is "a set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand's name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…'" (from David Aaker's book Building Strong Brands').

Branding may appear to have little value to a clinic, especially one paid for by public sector funds. However, branding is not just about a logo, design or colour scheme. It is a strong emotional attachment created by a good relationship between a business and its' customers. In the same way that engagement best values an employees' dedication to a work environment, engagement can also be used to measure the dedication of a consumer to a brand. In a health care environment, engagement is a meaningful measure of patient service. Gallup measures the power of a brand based on how devoted it's purchases are to it. Can they live without it? Can they imagine a world without it? Do they believe in the integrity of the product?

When an office works to 'brand' itself (and measures the effect through patient engagement) it is making an effort to improve the total patient experience, the most important of which are the interactions between staff and patients. It allows a clinic to define its' purpose and quantify the parameters of care. Clinics should give some thought to the experience that will create a sense of emotional attachment in a patient. It does not require opulent settings, zero office wait times or complication free surgery. It does require empathy, respect and communication which is something that all clinics can provide with some effort and thought.

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