The surfeit of bad advertising in America today can be directly tied to the lack of brand strategy.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Mission Health, a huge and important health system in Western North Carolina, saves lives. They’re good people with masterful intentions. They also recently launched a new ad campaign.
Without a brand strategy in place to drive communications, the work defaulted to a copywriter’s pen. Using age old tricks like putting the company name in the tagline, Mission was left with a claim, so undifferentiated, it’s become the penicillin of healthcare marketing. Patients first.
The problem with a piece of marketing poetry as a defacto brand strategy is that the idea isn’t cognitive. In this cardiology ad,
there is no claim. No proof. (You might say “one of the nations’ top 50 cardiovascular hospitals, 12 times” is proof. But of what? Certainly not Mission: You.) When Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, whose brand claim is “More Science” runs an ad “Cancer reaches beyond the five boroughs, we do too,” that’s not more science.
Health systems are notoriously bad advertisers and worse branders. This is beginning to change but not fast enough. Before a health system starts spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads, they need to get the paper strategy right. Don’t leave that to the ad agency – not unless they have a good brand planning team.