Make Sure Your Brand Lives a Healthy Life
September 20, 2017
Dear House Rules,
Our medical device brand has only existed for a few years, but we want to ensure that it stays healthy for decades to come. After all, medical science, especially in our flagship field of cardiology, seems to be heading in the direction of minimally-invasive surgery, tiny implanted devices, and near-microscopic tools. How can we position ourselves – and continue to do so – as a dependable resource in this space?
In for the Long-Haul
Dear Long Haul:
It’s an excellent idea to map out a long-term marketing strategy when your brand is still “young.” Think of it as retirement savings – you’re investing in the future of your brand. Certain brands, like Coca-Cola, Colgate, Tylenol, Lipitor, and Bausch + Lomb, enjoy significant public trust, despite utter disasters on the part of some of them (remember New Coke?) What is it about these brands that sustain them through and beyond major challenges, the noise created by marketers trying to tout trends, and the ever-changing tastes of various demographics? There are a number of time-tested, proven strategies for keeping a brand viable and successful over time, regardless of industry. We’ve listed a number of them to get you started:
Set Clear Brand Promises – and Keep Them
Throughout a sustainable brand’s history, the brand’s promises must always be clear in terms of what is guaranteed and what is valued. Make sure to spend an appropriate amount of time and analysis determining your brand promise. It must not change. If you keep your promises to your customers, they will come to trust you for the same experience, again and again.1
Whereas in years past, the “brand promise” may not have been as clearly articulated, many new brands are now offering an actual brand promise as part of their marketing to show stakeholders how they can back up what they tell users about their brand. Lego is a good example of staying true to its original brand promise despite numerous changes that have kept the brand viable. Founded in 1932, its core mission was to get children to be creative, but it has now evolved into continuing to do that while partnering with other companies like NASA as well as other brands, including movie tie-ins and its partnership with Microsoft’s Minecraft to build on the popularity of that creative game.1 Brand promises must be more than just words on a website.
Map Out a Crisis Management Plan
You certainly don’t want to think about a worst-case scenario for your brand while it’s barely getting off the ground. However, it pays to be prepared, and to take a lesson from history. Back in 1982, seven people died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. Most marketers assumed that the Tylenol brand would never recover, and indeed, it plunged from a 37% market share to a 7% market share in the first months after the poisonings. However, due to amazingly savvy image management (including a publicly-stated, enhanced focus on “tamper-proof” packaging and product safety), the brand rebounded to a 30% market share only a year later. What could have been a debacle is now taught in master’s programs as an example of stellar long-term marketing. Twenty-five years later, Tylenol is going strong, one of the most trusted products in its category.2
Make Changes Gradually and Naturally
No brand can (or should) remain exactly the same for decades or even centuries, and yet customers dislike change. When medical devices are improved, for example, physicians need to learn new techniques for using them, and like everyone else, not all physicians react positively to change. Brands with longevity may lose a few customers as changes occur, but they remain confident in their evolution and emphasize in all communications how the changes still align with the original promises they made and are keeping. As such, customers usually follow along with the changes, understanding that the brand is trying to enhance the previous experience and adapt to overall changes in the environment around them.
Leverage Available Channels To Continually Drive Brand Awareness
While the channels may change over time, it’s important for a brand to assess the best platforms to reach out to their audience and drive brand awareness. Newer channels like digital, social media, and virtual reality demonstrations can be especially effective with medical devices, Test these out to see which ones are the most responsive to your particular product and then continue using these communication media to remind customers about your brand.
Xavier Creative House has significant experience with this type of long-range brand strategizing for our clients’ product lines. We’d love to help you do the same thing with your young brand to ensure it lives a long and healthy life. Contact us today!
Reference: 1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/10/04/sustaining-a-company-through-and-beyond-the-noise-how-to-develop-brand-longevity/2/#7417c6d7775a. Accessed September 12, 2017.
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/23/your-money/tylenol-made-a-hero-of-johnson-johnson-the-recall-that-started.html. Accessed September 12, 2017.
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