Healthcare Marketing: Don’t Shortchange Your Hospital’s Positioning Statement

Brand positioning statements need to be simple and powerful.  But they also must connect emotionally.  The best ones always do.

What are some of the great positioning statements of all times?   I bet the ones you think of are not one-word slogans.  Most of them are longer, aren’t they?  And you remember them because they tell a story and they are long enough to connect with you emotionally. It seems brand positioning lines are getting shorter and shorter.  Like we have to boil it down to the fewest words possible.  But in doing that we often miss the emotional attachment.

Here are some classic brand positioning statements:

Fed Ex: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”

Smuckers: “With a name like Suckers , it’s got to be good”

Avis:  “Avis is number 2 in rental cars. So why go with us? We try harder”

Ace Hardware: “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man”

New York Times: “All the news that’s fit to print”

M&M: “Melts in your mouth, not your hands”

Las Vegas: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

Geico: “15 Minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance”

Secret deodorant: “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman”

The list could go on and on.  The thing that makes them great is they each tell a story and they connect emotionally.  Sure, all of them could have been shortened and probably communicated the message but they wouldn’t have been emotionally appealing and therefore would have been less memorable.

Imagine these:

Fed Ex: “The overnight company”

Smuckers: “It’s good”

Avis: “We try harder”

Ace Hardware: “The helpful people”

New York Times:  ”All the news”

M&M: “Not messy”

Well get the point?  The power of a brand positioning line is not it’s brevity, but it’s emotional attachment. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be long but it does have to connect.  “Just Do It” is not long but connects and there is therefore memorable.  The same can be said for “Diamond are forever” for DeBeers.

Compare the positioning statements of two coffees.  Maxwell House said “Good to the last drop” and had a strong market share. But Folgers with “ The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup” has grown to dominant Maxwell House.  There are lots of reasons for this but the emotional positioning of Folgers certainly paved the way.

Charmin leads the toilet paper category by using. Mr. Whipple to ask us to “Please, don’t squeeze the Charmin.” The simple word like “please” makes that emotional attachment.  And even President Obama was smart by not just using “Change” as his positioning line but rather the much stronger, “Change we can believe in”

There are thousands of brand positioning lines but the ones we remember speak to both the rational and emotional sides of our brain.  The right and left side.  As healthcare marketers, we too must work really hard to appeal to our audiences both rationally and emotionally. That’s usually not done with a short one or two word positioning line.  It more often than not requires more words.  Words that tell a story and connect emotionally.  Words that speak to the heart as well as the mind.

Al Ries, Chairman of Ries & Ries, a marketing firm in Atlanta, wrote an article in Ad Age that cited many of these examples and made this point very strongly.  He concluded the article by writing, “When Abraham Lincoln was asked how long a man’s legs should be in proportion to his body, he replied, ‘they ought to be long enough to reach the ground.’  How long should a slogan be?  It should be long enough to reach an emotional connection in the consumer’s mind.”

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