Getting small to drive big results


My daughter could say “people pop up for Pop Tarts” before she ever used “daddy” or “momma” in a sentence. That’s when her mother and I knew we were going to be raising our child in a distinctly marketing-influenced world, she didn’t disappoint. It was fun with her riding in her car seat reading off every logo on every business sign we passed… Never just business names “KFC”, “Taco Bell”, “Avis” but also the associated tag line “finger lickin’ good”, “think outside the bun”, “we try harder”.

Until recently, that’s all I considered branding to be, just a word associated with big companies, big logos, big slogans and tag lines. As time passed I came to appreciate how a good ‘micro’ version of branding for an initiative or program can capture attention away from the multitude of complex distractions and colliding initiatives in a healthcare organization and focus the necessary stakeholders on the specific campaign my team and I are promoting, just like good brand strategy differentiates a product in retail.

After posting the blog “‘Casing the joint’ for high-value expense reduction ideas worth stealing!” colleagues have asked me to spend a bit more time to unpack microbranding a bit and speak to its practical application for contemporary supply chain leaders.

Fine with me… Let’s think differently… Let’s “get small” with these microbranding beatitudes for the healthcare supply chain leader!

First consider your colleagues… Know them, care for them, and make their way easier.

Understanding and caring about the challenges and objectives that your campaign’s stakeholders are already struggling with, will help you build comprehensive alignment into your solutions’ architecture.

Consider your “stock value.”

When a large health system I worked with needed to coalesce focus on going to the competitive market for a suture and endomechanical products contract, we knew from experience that we would have an uphill battle relative to utilization changes not to mention sustaining ongoing contract compliance. Our “stock value” if we entered the fray talking about new suture and endomechanical contracts would be very low and we would end up implementing with a reluctant but and slim majority at best. Ultimately we brought other closure and endosurgery devices together in a portfolio that inculcated the larger needs and interests of our stakeholders and microbranded our campaign as SETA (Suture, Endo, Trocar, and Adhesives).  SETA as a microbrand added credible value because it built a connection between the campaign and the stakeholder and that increased our internal “stock price” to the point that we were able to survive the utilization change controversy and have a strong shared purpose community of foot soldiers to rally with “SETA” figuratively stitched on our battle flag.

Assess collision threats.

We just pointed out that aligning with stakeholder’s is a reliable way to enjoy the benefits of managing a campaign with shared purpose, but aligning with head-on colliding forces can be frustrating if not simply deadly for your initiative. Competing initiatives are to be expected, and you don’t want to ever hinder the good work your colleagues are doing.  Keep in mind though, that you are there to assess and communicate the best actionable opportunities for your organization to position itself for exceptional cost quality and outcome management… When you are relied upon for discontinuous innovation you are simply going to collide with practices that are today part and parcel with service lines… Take this seriously, cultural inertia is a massive mighty force to be reckoned with when you collide with it. Effective microbranding offers you opportunity to build loyal fans of a skillfully differentiated campaign that is small and nimble enough to avoid the track that colliding attitudes and initiatives are on, letting them pass by you at a safe distance.

Luke 12:48 “…  much will be expected, from those entrusted with much.”

When your organization trusts your microbrand, you have a voice, your team becomes an influential authority. This is holy ground. Spend the effort to microbrand only the highest impact initiatives that are worthy of the campaign. If you are demanding attention and collaboration for a heavy lift, it should be just that, hard work but worth the effort. Use your microbrand strategy to build a sense of credible consistency for the next time you need to rally stakeholders. This will help shore up the “credit worthiness” of your leadership in the enterprise.

In the last few blog posts I called out my own “moonshot” of personally participating in $10 billion in healthcare direct expense reduction over the course of 10 years. After some discussion with a close segment of colleagues I am focusing the microbrand strategy on 10-in-10. If you are a regular reader, you will note the slight change from the 10x10y brand we originally conceived of. This is to maintain differentiation from Google 10X. Continuing with the promised transparency we will talk next about the tools, channels and markets I will need to develop to accomplish 10-in-10.

I hope this post helped a bit to clarify the value of microbranding. Keep filling the hands that heal.




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