Healthcare Brand Naming | What comes first – the position or the name?

Healthcare Brand Naming | What comes first – the position or the name?

Fall is a season of great transformation.  From colorful leaves to kick-offs and playoffs, the season brings change, reflection and hope.

In the healthcare industry, fall also unearths many metamorphoses among companies, hospitals, and health systems.   After months of planning, studying, researching, and “cocooning” new ideas, brands emerge and dot the landscapes across U.S. markets.  Many of these names surface from the multitude of mergers and acquisitions that have also been in the planning stages during the summer months.

I always enjoy reading about these new brands and learning their story as told by a new name, logo, and tagline.  Some, you can tell, are thoughtful, customer-based, and research-influenced.  Others seem to come out of the blue (healthcare’s favorite color, of course) with little explanation and depth.

This always begs the question in brand evolution; what comes first – the name or the position? By “position,” I’m referring to the classic marketing discipline of determining the “why” of your enterprise and “where” it intends to be established in the minds of your key audiences.

Without stringing you along, I’ll provide my viewpoint on the discussion of what comes first; I strongly believe every healthcare brand naming opportunity should start with and revolve around an evaluation/evolution of a brand position.  This provides the opportunity to develop a unique marketing strategy and reinforce it with a name, identity, and tagline that communicate your story.  How great is that!  A name and identity which actually makes sense in the context of your brand.  Its equity and relevance, and not just comprised of clever or computer-generated terms that offer little differentiation and no value proposition.

Working with clients of all sizes, and in all segments of the healthcare industry, the nature of a request determines their level of sophistication and long-term view of a new brand and name.  If the request is, “we need a new name,” there’s a good chance they’ll want the same exercise again in two years.  If it’s “we need a new brand,” this typically implies the desire for a new market position and corresponding branding elements.

So, while the argument around the chicken and the egg continues, I believe there’s less of one with healthcare brand naming and positioning.  It starts with a strong, desired market position and all the branding elements, including the name, work to support it.   Just coming up with names that will “work” and then determining the brand position is an exercise in futility; and success will not be what it’s cracked up to be.

Contact Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy for more information.

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