Branding in An Era of Healthcare Reform

Larry Minnix, President & CEO of LeadingAge, recently began a video series entitled, a few minutes with Larry Minnix (I am guessing they didn’t hire Porter Novelli to help with the naming – or, maybe they did).  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take the time to watch these.  Larry does a wonderful job sharing timely and highly relevant messages in his famously comfortable speakeasy style.

In the current episode that I’ve embedded below Larry discusses LeadingAge’s 2011 Annual Report. 

In referring to LeadingAge member organizations, Larry noted that, “we’ve had reinforced the fact that the most valuable, priceless thing that you own is your not-for-profit brand and heritage.”

I agree with Larry – today. Tomorrow – as in the next five to ten years – is a different story. The looming reality facing nonprofit senior housing and care organizations is that to remain economically viable in the future I believe their brand will have to become more synonymous with value than being nonprofit.

For those nonprofit organizations desiring to survive (and thrive) under Healthcare Reform, future brand identity and perception may need to change significantly. Consumer preferences of the Baby Boomer generation, the need to participate in integrated care delivery systems, learning to financially manage through new payment models (e.g., ACOs, managed care, payment bundling) – these are factors, which will have a greater impact on successful brand strategy than a nonprofit identity.

This is why I found that part of Larry’s message so timely and well placed. Tomorrow is not too soon to begin proactively managing your brand in lieu of Healthcare Reform. To be sure, managing a brand is a bit like herding cats: there are things you can control, things you cannot control and things you foolishly believe you can control.

I am reminded of a passage I like to quote from the book, Brand: It Ain’t the Logo: It’s what people think of you™  by Ted Matthews.

“A Brand is the sum total impression and memory of every remarkable, every so-so and every negative experience with any and all pieces of an organization. A Brand is the personality of a company, product or service and is judged and assessed a value by everyone it touches, whether inside the company (your employees) or outside (your customers, suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders). These perceptions of value may, or may not, be what you want them to be. Which suggests a fact that may surprise you: your Brand isn’t really yours. You don’t own it – all the people thinking about you do.”

Perception is reality, isn’t it. Being able to monetize the perceptual advantage of being a nonprofit will continue to be critically important to brand awareness and positioning. I am not suggesting otherwise. But – it will not be sufficient for survival in the face of the tremendous challenges ahead, and it will be secondary to perceptually positioning your brand based upon the ability to deliver value under Healthcare Reform.

What do you think?

  ~ Sparky

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