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Health Care Brand Research Conundrum

When to take consumer input under advisement.

Consumer research in the marketplace is so important to gain real-time, objective feedback for any branding initiative. The question is: how much weight should that research be given? Research is not enough in and of itself to elevate your brand. To have a successful brand re-launch, this consumer learning needs to be considered with input from the various internal stakeholders to carve out an ownable niche. We have done numerous branding initiatives for hospitals, health systems and AMCs. Here are 3 ways consumer research can impact the branding process (done with this week’s World Series in mind):

The Home Run – Consumer research has a significant impact on the brand outcome.

All key constituencies are fully aligned within the organization and the research is well designed and feedback is clear and convincing. This happens less often than you would think because so many variables within the organization can come into play that will require attention and modify the direction coming out of the consumer research. This works best when the president or CEO is fully on board, vested and actively engaged in the process. We have seen this senior leader champion the branding initiative; personally enroll the key internal constituents and have a desire to let the research findings lead the outcome.

The Double – Research provides valuable feedback that in conjunction with other factors form the brand outcome.

This double is more likely the case. We find that with some health care entities, there can be pre-existing factors within the organization or among the services or offerings that will put constraints around what the brand can actually deliver. The other scenario is when the research findings push out the boundaries of the comfort zone of the internal stakeholders – even though they were initially willing to take a bigger step at the start of the branding initiative. In this case, consumer findings will help drive the brand positioning within more specified parameters.

The Single – Research is used only under advisement because other key influencers are driving the direction.

This is least desirable and happens in situations where there is less internal consensus about the branding initiative to begin with. This will occur when the branding stakeholder group is too large with no real champion. This will also occur when the consumer findings support a position other than what was expected.   We have seen the research help modify current brand direction, but sub-optimally. The challenge here is to still take a modest branding step based upon some of the findings and keep an aspirational position in mind for the future.

Consumer research is an important part of branding initiatives. Many factors within your organizations need to be sorted out in advance to hit the home run. If the output of the consumer research is going to be just a single, your organization may need to re-think the branding initiative in the first place. Just be ready to play ball!

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