strong brand

Hospital Marketing: We Can Learn from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has proven to know how to build a brand.  And every marketer would do well to observe how she’s done it.

Whether you like Lady Gaga, her music, her style – or not, no one can argue with her success.  She was the first artist to hit 1 billion hits on YouTube.  She has sold over 11.5 million albums in two years and was the 2009 bestseller through digital media with 15 million tracks sold. She has 10 million friends on Facebook and 4.7 million followers on Twitter. She has built one of the strongest brands in the world.

How has she accomplished so much in such a short period of time?  Marketing Profs recently presented an article outlining some of the tactics that make her successful.  Lessons that would be useful for all marketers.

1. She tells a consistent story.

Lady Gaga knows her brand.  She understands and lives her brand. And it is consistent in all she does. Take for instance her appearance. Her costume style clothing isn’t reserved just for high-profile red carpet events. She dresses like this all the time – in the airport, at her sister’s graduation, etc. Every time you see her or photos of her – whether you like her style or not – you know to expect the unexpected.

2. She engages her fans.

Lady Gaga listens to her fans, and provides many touch points for them to be engaged.  She offers quality content that her fans want and keeps them coming back and participating.  She provides multiple venues for connecting with her fans. She understands that to promote her brand she has to do more than concert tours. She does more than just push out mini commercials about upcoming appearances. She provides info that fans want.

3. She reveals herself.

Lady Gaga displays her personality across all media.  She is multifaceted but is open and transparent. She allows her fans to know her and have a sense of relationship.

4. She encourages ownership and participation with her brand.

Her content is spreadable. Her work is contagious and she allows her fans to embed, revamp, comment and share wherever they want.

5. She integrates all the venues used by her brand.

Lady Gaga coordinates her brand message across all avenues.  Her tours, her merchandise sales, and her media presence are all integrated to create multiple points of contact that leverages a synergy across all communication channels.

6. She thinks outside of herself.

She constantly engages her customers in worthwhile efforts that help others and this enhances her brand. One example is when she donated all the profits from her online store over a 24-hour period to Haitian relief and she promoted it through Twitter.

Lady Gaga is a pop-culture phenomenon.  But it didn’t just happen.  She has a plan and is working it. She gives careful consideration to all her options. And most importantly, she creates multiple avenues for fan contact and interaction and presents a consistent brand message across all of them.  Lessons every marketer should learn.  If we don’t learn them, it could lead to a very uh… “bad romance” with our clients.


Healthcare Marketing: A Strong Brand is Strong Indeed

When a brand is really strong and established, it can endure even during difficult times.


Sometimes it’s argued that brand building is not so important.  It’s more about promoting service lines, driving business, and proving ROI for marketing expenditures.  Some say brand building cannot be justified; only those activities that create specific direct response and a measurable return on investment have merit.

However, brands that are strong, have a very positive position in the consumer’s mind, and have grown over time, show great resiliency and staying power.  Without a strong brand reputation, you’re only as good as your most recent promotion or offer.  With significant brand equity however, a brand can stand strong – even in the midst of controversy and bad PR.


Al Ries in an article in Ad Age cited six examples of strong brands that have endured missteps and even bad PR.

1. Tylenol – When seven people died from cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in 1982, the brand’s obituary was pronounced by practically everyone.  Yet today, Tylenol is the No. 1 over the counter brand.

2. Tiger Woods – Before the Masters, Woods’ online reputation was 51% positive and 49% negative. After the first day of competition Woods’ positive rating went to 69% and the negative rating fell to 31%.

3. Toyota – Despite all the bad publicity Toyota has received, in March when Toyota was pronounced as being in deep trouble, they sold more vehicles than any other brand in America.

4. Mercedes-Benz – In 2007, Consumer Reports rated Mercedes last in predicted reliability among 36 automobile brands.  That year Mercedes’ sales went up.

5. Bill Clinton – Despite being impeached in 1998, Bill Clinton survived and still has a strong brand.

6. Martha Stewart – In 2004 Martha Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale and spent 5 months in prison.  Today, she is in her fifth year of  “The Martha Stewart Show”,  her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, is doing well and she has major deals with major retailers.

What do all of these examples prove?  A strong brand is hard to dethrone.   Even when things go wrong, when it is ambushed with difficulty and negative PR, a strong brand can endure, survive and even thrive.

The message to healthcare marketers is there is great value in building a strong brand reputation.  All the work that goes into creating brand equity is not wasted even when it’s difficult to measure it in ROI.  Brand building is a long process.  It’s hard, sometimes tedious work.  But the enduring rewards are great indeed!