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Make Healthcare Great Again: Reassessing Your Brand Story for Success

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December 23, 2016

Even with the presidential election behind us, the one theme that still sticks out is President-elect Donald Trump's promise to make America great again. Whether you think America was already great or needs to be greater, it was an emotionally powerful idea that connected with people—regardless of the candidate they supported. According to ABC News exit polls, more than six in 10 voters held a negative view of the economy, while the Washington Post reported that only 27% of Americans were satisfied with the direction of the country.

In a similar fashion, 2016 marked an unsatisfactory year for the healthcare industry with both patients and providers crying out to make healthcare great again. With a 15-year record high number of medical device recalls, 2000-5000% hikes in some drug prices, doctors spending twice as much time on paperwork than direct patient care, and the Affordable Care Act not being all that affordable, there is no better time for medtech companies to reassess their brand story.

2017 Healthcare Trends: Creating Value

PwC Health Research Institute published a report highlighting the forces that are expected to have the most impact on the healthcare industry in 2017. The major theme: to win going forward, companies must create value. For medtech companies, this shift means building, adapting and innovating to demonstrate the value of their products and services.

Value is the difference between a prospective customer's evaluation of the benefits and costs of one product when compared with others. To perceive and understand value, providers and patients need to understand how your products or services exist in the world—how you add value and improve people's lives, ease their troubles, and meet their needs. A compelling brand story or point of view (POV) gives your audience a way to connect with you, and to view your business as a living entity run by real people offering real value.

Creating a brand story is not simply about standing out and getting noticed. It is about building something that people care about and want to buy into. Otherwise, you are just another commodity. The best brand stories are irresistible, compelling and provocative in a way that makes your value clear. It is about thinking beyond the utility and functionality of products and services and striving for the creation of loyalty and meaningful bonds with your customers.

A Great Brand Story

Patients and providers today expect that a brand is coming into existence for a good reason—to add value by solving a problem, meeting a specific need, making things better. The brand story is central to communicating the brand's purpose. It goes beyond just a tagline or a glossy brochure; it serves as the company's guiding principle and road map for the leadership team. A brand story-driven company creates a tangible competitive advantage by delivering a provocative and differentiated experience to compliment the power of their products and company.

Since we are talking about making things great again, let's take a look at a company who made it their mission to make air travel great again as an example of an effective brand story or POV. With new planes, attractive fares, top-notch service and a host of amenities, Virgin America reinvented domestic air travel. They built a loyal flyer following by tackling the typically dull and at times painful process of air travel. This includes custom-designed mood-lit cabins, free Wi-Fi, touch-screen personal entertainment at every seat, and an on-demand menu that allows travelers to order a meal or cocktail from their seatback screen at any time during a flight.

So, how's that brand POV working out for them? Well, Virgin America was named Best U.S. Airline in Condé Nast Traveler's 2016 Readers' Choice Awards for the ninth consecutive year. For the 2015 full-year earnings, Virgin America reported a record annual net income with a 139% increase year over year. Just last week Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America for $2.6 billion.

What specifically is broken in the healthcare arena that your company can make great? Where can you add value? How do you tell your brand story so you can create a powerful connection with patients and providers? When you can develop an emotional relationship between customers and your brand, your brand's power will grow exponentially. That means people are more willing to buy, recommend, work for and invest in your brand.

Rebranding to Become a Category King

Legendary companies, or Category Kings, create an unfair competitive advantage by conditioning the market to adopt their brand POV and think like they do. Decades of neuroscience brain research have demonstrated that stories have a more lasting impact than mere facts. One 1969 Stanford study showed that students remembered six to seven times more words embedded in a story compared to a list of random words. That is why Category Kings create a brand story that:

  1. Powerfully articulates a problem: The bigger and more urgent the problem, the more people will invest to solve it.
  2. Presents a solution for the future: Customers want a vision of how their lives will be better when their problem is solved.
  3. Explains how your technology bridges the gap: From the problem to the solution.

A powerful brand story expresses what your company stands for, what your company stands against, and why your prospects and customers should care.

If you think your company can improve its customer relationships, thought leadership, brand awareness or revenue, you may want to think seriously about recrafting your brand story as you move into 2017. The medtech companies that seize the opportunity to better provide value to their stakeholders will have a better chance of becoming a Category King.

Your unique brand story is one of the essential core elements to become a Category King. Grey Matter Marketing partners with medtech companies to identify and seize their essential advantage. We provide a framework to develop your brand story and provide input on how to powerfully articulate the problem, how to effectively present a solution for the future, and concisely explain how your technology bridges the gap. We've created this worksheet as a primer to help you discover the purpose of your brand, your promise and how best to tell your brand story. Our team would love to hear what you have come up with—contact us and share your what you have uncovered!

Use this primer to begin to uncover the purpose, promise and POV of your brand story.

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