People in marketing love to herald the death of this and the death of that. It’s linked partly to an obsession with the new and partly to a need to replace the old, which those responsible don’t sell, with the new, which they often do. They’ve worked through the death of TV, advertising etc and now it seems to be the turn of branding itself.
The death of branding is a nonsense and anyone suggesting it may well understand what they are selling but they don’t understand branding.
Why the death of branding is a nonsense
Declaration of interest: DOSE Design sells branding. Brand consultancy and brand identity. It’s what we do and what we are great at. There, that is that cleared up. I am not trying to deceive though and I won’t suggest that any other approach to marketing your healthcare organisation is better or worse than any other. This is about shining a light on why the death of branding is a nonsense. Branding can look after itself as you will see and doesn’t need me to fight its corner.
First, let’s look at some of the reasons people are using to back up their claim that branding is dead and why they aren’t convincing.
- E-commerce has made any product hyper-available reducing the value of branding. – I don’t buy it. Supermarkets and retail parks have been getting bigger and bigger for years so hyper-availability is nothing new. Greater choice means the value of a strong brand becomes even more important to influence consumers to choose your product – not less important.
- Consumer empowerment through digital channels allows consumers to filter branding out of their purchase decision. – Again, I don’t buy it. Navigating the opaque online world is becoming more of a mine-field everyday for those that are savy let alone the vast majority. Product selection based on information provided by unknown vendors is at best a risk and at worst a waste of money. Product selection based on familiar brands is still a very powerful influence.
- Brands are a result of advertising. Advertising is dying so brands are dying. – Advertising is not dying. It is changing. Brands, as we shall see below, were here before advertising and if for some unforseen reason advertising does pass, brands will be here afterwards.
Now, enough of the negative, adversarial approach. Let’s look at why brands and branding will be here long after I’ve stopped writing about them.
Brands are shorthand for trust
Brands are shorthand for trust and familiarity in a risky world. They facilitate decision making without having to assess situations anew every-time we encounter them. When you get down to basics brands are a signal that people can trust the familiar. That they will get what they expect when they interact with them. Brand is a new name for old ideas. It could be a product, a company, it could be an organisation, it could be a club, or a charity, or a social movement, or a team, a tribe, a nation, an individual or a religion. A brand means something and stands for something. Where that brand is apparent (through a symbol like a logo, coat of arms or an icon) it communicates what can be expected to the observer.
Brands are not a new thing. As we understand them and talk about them now we think of commercial brands and the corporate activity of branding. It would be a mistake to think that they are just a part of marketing. Marketing has just tapped into the human need for meaning and being able to find a safe way through the world and they have called it branding.
Humans seek meaning. Meaning influences decisions. It’s useful to be able to influence other humans decisions. Brands are powered by meaning. Brands exist because of humans.
While the world continues to become more complex, change faster and provide new experiences for humans, commercial brands (and other kinds) will always have a place.
Think about your healthcare brand. Is it helping your customers and prospects to find their way and make decisions about what they are attracted to i.e. your products? Is it well known enough amongst your target market to make a difference? Have you built the meaning behind your brand to ensure it communicates the right messages? Lots to think about.
Healthcare experience meets branding expertise
Get in touch for a no obligation consultation about your healthcare brand and we’ll be glad to help. STAT.