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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, July 31 2014 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
    WOBI

    Image: © Kreg Holt for WOBI

    According to strategy expert Rita Gunther McGrath, the competitive advantage is dead. Any edge your brand has over another will be trumped faster and more furiously than ever before. And in fact, most of the speakers at the WOBI on Innovation conference focused on these disrupters: brands that emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, and shake up a category so dramatically that all others in its category must hustle to stay relevant.

    McGrath advises a new, nimble mindset as the best way to protect your brand from being edged out, including changing your thinking about innovation and also your business strategy. Incredible agility is now required when we consider our products, budgets, and even our own careers.  Innovation should be incorporated fully into our company, not as an “extra,” but as another cost of doing business. Products and ideas should be championed for as long as they are effective and then relinquished for improved solutions. And, as employees, we have to consistently and proactively shape and nurture our career paths.

    If the WOBI faculty is an indication of the future, then healthcare in particular must be alert to the patter of disrupters. Technology looming on the horizon could threaten many healthcare brands; however, getting educated about what’s happening at the leading-edge and being open to possibilities gives brands an opportunity to progress and position themselves as forward thinkers, whether that means partnering with “disruptive” consumer brands or refocusing their own R&D.

    What does the future hold?

    If we are to believe tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, our future is going to be super cool and very scary all at the same time. We’ll start with the (now) ordinary but end up with the extraordinary—and a number of questions about our privacy and consumerism in general, will be raised. What happens to the pharmaceutical industry when we can print our own medications? Or to doctors when robots perform all our surgeries? Our phones will track everything our bodies do, from fitness to heart monitoring, to medication absorption. Global data is growing at a rate of 59 percent per year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Pills will come with sensors; medicine for conditions like cancer will be personalized. We’ll print hearts and lungs and bionic hands. Devices and tattoos on our skin will store our health records, credit cards, and IDs. Robots will continue to advance in medicine and beyond, replacing pharmacists, delivery vehicles, factory workers, and more.

    How does a brand adapt?

    So how does a healthcare brand stay agile during this tumultuous time? CEO Mark Bertolini offered some insight into the direction Aetna is taking that is inspiring for anyone in healthcare today. Perhaps most importantly, Bertolini has shifted the company’s perception of its customer, its marketplace, and its role:

    “Healthcare is focused on curing disease, not creating highly functional human beings. Our goal should be highly functional humans because they are productive, economically viable, and therefore happy. That should be our definition of how a healthcare system works.”

    Not only is this aspirational, it’s practical. Between the ACA, new technology, and concierge medicine, healthcare is more patient-centric than ever. Consumers now have the tools to understand, monitor, and take an active role in their health like never before. Bertolini goes so far as to say that if the healthcare system is structured properly and built around the individual, traditional insurance won’t even be necessary. He sees three main transformative principles for staying ahead:

    1. Move towards consumer-centric digital tools that empower customers to take control of their healthcare
    2. Partner with doctors and hospitals to share incentives and keep people healthy
    3. Exact concierge level service for chronic patients that is high touch and high tech

    Bolster your brand

    There are no guarantees against disrupters—and they’re also not always a genuine threat. For every Uber or AirBnB there’s a Pets.com or LaserDisc. However, taking the whole landscape in account, it’s very clear that we’re entering a brave new world for healthcare. Therefore, understanding the strength of your brand in the marketplace and developing future strategies around that can help you adapt to the industry’s turbulent new normal. What shifts should you make to foster innovation and keep employees engaged? How can you push new products forward and disengage from those that have run their course? Can you adopt new technologies to better serve your consumers? We don’t know where the next disrupter will come from, or when it will emerge, but by recognizing changes in our industry, employing forward-thinking techniques, and adapting to consumer marketplace trends, we can set our brands up for success and longevity.

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleDiamant.

    Interested in future-proofing your brand? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Monday, June 2 2014 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

    iPharma conference speaker

    Day One of iPharma closes with a look at what lies ahead for the future of digital marketing in pharmaceuticals

    In the wake of some of the biggest pharma deals of the year, industry marketers gathered to discuss their digital strategies at iPharma 2014. Like its sister sector, healthcare, pharmaceuticals has been slower to adopt new media and technology than consumer goods, but industry leaders now recognize the significant impact online activities have on their brands’ reputations. Despite regulatory challenges, the presentations all focused on positive—and possible—shifts communicators can make to better serve patients and physicians. Here are some guiding questions based on the speakers’ presentations you can use to focus your marketing and strengthen your brand.  

    1. Are you interacting with your patients online?

    As consumers ourselves, we know the power of online interaction and how it drives customer behavior. Digital health is no different. One study showed that 95 million Americans use smartphones for health info, a 27 percent increase from last year. Patients also spend nearly 52 hours per year reading health information online. This is a great opportunity for communications professionals to write blogs or scientific articles to help patients find the information they are looking for or give them tools to interact with condition-specific communities. Being active online also gives you a chance to respond quickly to negative feedback, which, according to Time Inc.’s VP of Digital, resonates 150 times more than positive comments.   

    2. Are you using data to target your marketing efforts? 

    Whether it’s studying your customers’ online behaviors or tapping into predictive analytics, big data is a key way to stretch your marketing dollar. Technology now even allows you to pinpoint the smartphone users near a particular doctor’s office. 95 percent of patients complete an internet search immediately before or after visiting their doctor. Imagine sharing important information with them about their condition or symptoms right when they are looking for it.   

    3. Are you communicating clearly with your team about your brand? 

    Great brand strategies resonate through all levels of an organization, from research and development to human resources. Your employees are the face of your brand and the primary people who interact with your customers and shape their brand experience. If internal communication about your brand is not clear, open, and honest, employees will fill in the silence with their own perceptions.   

    4. Is the customer at the heart of your marketing plan? 

    To often, brands misstep by placing themselves at the center of a strategic marketing plan. They ask, “What information do we want to give?” rather than ”What information do our consumers want to hear?”  When you have a valuable product that aids someone with a disease, condition, or illness, the product may just be one channel of assistance. Are you considering other ways your expertise and reach can help your customers? Are your actions driven by a desire to improve their lives and provide value? Do consumers see value in your brand beyond a product?  

    5. Are your communications authentic? 

    Storytelling has become a key component of marketing and branding in recent years. Some of this is a result of the 78 percent of internet users who watch or download videos online. Videos that go viral often tug at our heartstrings but only resonate when the storytelling is original or authentic. You cannot manufacture great stories. But in pharma, there is an advantage. Any brand with products and services that impact human health has touched lives. And those who have been touched have great stories to share. What’s more, these stories will automatically be relevant to others who are dealing with similar conditions or challenges.    

    6. Are you building programs for short-term results or lasting impact?

    Because everything is changing so rapidly in the pharma space, marketing KPIs are often skewed for quick, c-suite-approved results: “likes,” on Facebook, “retweets,” etc. These results are not insignificant, but they aren’t necessarily indicators of longevity. Activities that foster a genuine relationship with consumers, that emphasize service and connection more than selling, will keep a brand strong, despite changes in the marketplace.   

    7. Are you listening? 

    To your patients? To your physicians? To your employees?  What are your customers looking for? Seek to assuage anxiety by providing answers, comfort, or community via content marketing, videos, and website development. Katharine Patterson, Global Communications Manager for GE Healthcare, closed her presentation with a simple but powerful directive, “Be a human first. Then a marketer.” 

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.   

    Curious about using brand strategies to boost your digital efforts? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Josh Feldmeth on Monday, May 12 2014 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

    It looks like 2014 is going to be the comeback year for Mergers and Acquisitions.   

    M&A activity is at a level we haven’t seen since 2007, and the drivers of this are clear—equity values, cross-boarder tax advantages, structural improvements in the economy, and the search for growth, to name a few.   

    This new activity is coming from all industries—including healthcareindustrialstechnologymedia, and CPG.   

    We’ve been tracking the recent rise of M&A deals and put together some tips on how to use brand assets to maximize value and lower risk during M&A transactions.   

    Three key principles to maximizing the deal: 

    1. Focus on the value creation logic: How will companies and assets be brought together to create more shareholder value?
    2. Trust your customers, not your gut: Every case is different but our experiences is that managers often overestimate the connection customers have with current brands, but at the same time overestimate the time required to make change. Use forward-looking econometric models to accelerate M&A’s decision making.
    3. Think about evolving models rather than perfect solutions: It’s naïve to think that a single brand architecture solution is profit maximizing across the entire organization. The strength of each brand can differ widely across geographies and business lines.    

    If you think about value creation logic, trusting your customer, and evolving models rather than perfect solutions, you can optimize the architecture of your brand assets to capture maximum value from the deal. 

    For more information about the role of brand in M&A activity, please contact Josh Feldmeth, CEO, Interbrand New York at jfeldmeth@interbrand.com. Connect with him on Twitter: @JoshFeldmeth

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, May 8 2014 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

    Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit

    Eric Siegel, Ph.D., demonstrates the benefits of Predictive Analytics for healthcare marketing

    More than 600 healthcare marketers and communicators gathered in Orlando, Florida last week seeking solutions for their branding challenges at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit. At InterbrandHealth we have seen the impact a strong brand can have on a company’s bottom line. Many best practice case studies at the conference demonstrated this as well. Here are five key conference takeaways:   

    1. Measure your brand

    Just like a diet, if you don’t know your starting weight and measurements, it’s hard to get to where you want to go. A Brand Strength assessment gives you valuable insight into where your brand is performing well and where it’s best to focus your resources to make it even stronger. Understanding your brand’s equity is key for marketers because it validates your work, demonstrates the value of marketing within an organization, and helps you justify and secure a budget. As Bill Gombeski (Director of Strategic Marketing, UK Healthcare) said, when senior executives understand the value of their brand, it elevates the discussion of marketing and brand in a much more tangible way, in addition to giving the marketing team credibility.   

    2. Strengthen your corporate brand 

    Many hospital systems, particularly those affiliated with an academic institution, have seen an uptick in brand recognition and perception when the corporate brand is strengthened and used across the system’s franchise brands. Just knowing the corporate brand that supports their local hospital can make patients more likely to use the smaller facility. Cleveland Clinic has been a key leader in global expansion; its Chief of Marketing & Communications, Paul Matsen, insisted that as systems come together, a unified master brand system makes all the difference.   

    3. Manage your brand across all touchpoints 

    It starts with a unique value proposition that helps your employees, shareholders, and customers know exactly what your brand is about. When this message is properly disseminated across all your communication touchpoints, the brand experience is strengthened. The brand experience includes any and all interactions that your customer has with your brand.  Sometimes that point of connection is made through social media or press, but, more often, the brand experience begins the moment the patient walks into your hospital and continues until the moment the patient leaves. Therefore, it’s imperative that your employees know and champion the brand. Consistency of message also helps when you look to expand, either nationally or globally. Both Alison Brown (SVP, University of Maryland Medical Center) and Dalal Haldeman (SVP, Johns Hopkins Medicine) emphasized the importance of brand architecture for proper management and business development.   

    4. Be patient, be agile & take risks 

    Many healthcare brands are incorporating new marketing strategies and media for the first time. As Tadd Pullin (SVP Marketing & Planning, The Nebraska Medical Center) pointed out, the marketplace is noisy, and it takes time to see real change. This isn’t to say that plodding along is the best methodology. Having an overarching marketing plan is key to getting a buy-in from your c-suite. They need to understand what you do and why it’s important. But remaining adept and responsive is equally important. Customers expect real time service, and responsive brands are successful brands. If you are expanding into content marketing or brand journalism, remaining nimble is particularly crucial, and you will need to take some risks.   

    “If failure is not an option then neither is success. The guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.” - Seth Godin   

    5. Don’t forget the people 

    Healthcare brands serve people, often at their most vulnerable times. In both our brand and business strategies, we have an obligation to place our customers and our employees at the core of everything we do.     

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.  

    Interested in a Brand Strength workshop for your organization? Connect here with InterbrandHealth. 

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  • Posted by: InterbrandHealth on Tuesday, January 28 2014 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Google contact lensesGoogle is the latest powerhouse consumer brand to dip its very large toe in the healthcare pool, specifically in the medtech space. And they’ve created a great deal of buzz, even though many of us are still coming down off our CES-high, where we saw gadgets and gizmos galore that could monitor our muscle quality, track a baby’s sleep patterns, and even tell us when to put on more sunscreen. 

    In the wake of all that tech-citement, sometimes we forget just how impactful these advancements are. Brands have the power to change lives in extraordinary ways, and nowhere is that more true than in healthcare where innovation can not only transform lives, but save them. 

    Google’s latest device may very well do just that. The pioneers at Google X Lab are developing a contact lens with biosensors that would monitor glucose levels for people with diabetes. This would be a life-altering piece of technology for those dealing with this condition. They would no longer need to subject themselves to daily needle pricks to test their glucose levels, and, if Google X Lab has its way, the contact lens will also alert them when their insulin levels hit the danger zone. 

    We were excited to hear about the launch of Google’s aging-research company Calico this past fall and can’t wait to see where Google goes next in the healthcare space. It’s another example of consumer brands shifting into the healthcare world- a movement we’re now seeing on a daily basis and experiencing in our own lives with the Affordable Care Act, uprising of wearable health tech, and more. 

    All healthcare companies can have a place in this shifting ecosystem should they choose to. Medtech devices may not be on brand for your company, but there are still many ways to drive your team towards innovation. 

    However, just because you’re a great technology brand, it doesn’t mean that entering the serious healthcare space will be without its pitfalls. It’s a challenging market with an array of stakeholders and dubious consumers. Google, which consistently ranks as one of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands, has shown great versatility in navigating an array of categories and customer groups. 

    But not every technology or engineering-based company has the depth of experience to navigate across new and different segments seamlessly. And more importantly, what makes a strong technology brand may not translate into making a strong health technology brand. 

    You'll be introducing your product to new and unique audiences and the criteria for success will be altered. You'll be competing against a group of brands already established in the category, and you’ll be expected to maintain your brand's standard against this new competitive set. 

    A Brand Strength analysis can help you meet these challenges. Brand Strength is one of the three core elements that informs Interbrand’s Best Global Brands annual ranking. InterbrandHealth has used Brand Strength to help a number of companies identify brand characteristics that should be retained, adapted, or strengthened to meet the unique needs and, often, skeptical reception of the healthcare audience. 

    Brand Strength will provide you with the tools you need to understand your brand as it relates to healthcare consumers and to the healthcare market at large and how to successfully navigate it. Once you have a solid blueprint for entering the healthcare space, the next revolutionary, life-changing product could be yours.

    Connect with InterbrandHealth, the only full-service global branding consultancy with an exclusive focus on healthcare.

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