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Feb 04 2014

Three Essential Elements of a Successful Brand

We talk about branding a lot here at One Step. I write about it on the blog, Valerie talks about it in her client meetings and customer service is always explaining the concept of branding over the phone. But still, it’s a hard concept to grasp, especially if you aren’t in the marketing industry and don’t think about branding everyday like we do. So whenever possible, I like to share real life examples so you can see, instead of just hear, how important branding is.

Today’s branding example comes from my second home, Kaiser Permanente. My baby boy is five months old and the past year I have spent a SIGNIFICANT amount of time at Kaiser. During all those hours spent in waiting rooms (anyone else have to endure that 3 hour glucose test? Yuck!) I started to notice all the various elements that work together to create the Kaiser brand.

Hear the Brand

Every element of Kaiser’s brand, from the logo to the advertising to the services provided, is developed around its core messaging. A few years ago, that core message was ” Live well. Be well. Thrive.” Now, they’ve shortened it to simply “Thrive.” The word itself shows up in several different interactions such as literature and commercials. But even when the actual word isn’t present, the message is. In everything they do, Kaiser conveys the message that they want their patients to thrive and that they are available to help make that possible.

See the Brand

The visual elements of the brand always convey the message of thriving. As I walked through the halls of the hospital I saw lots of pictures of people smiling, eating healthy, and exercising. In a word, they’re thriving. The rest of the space is generally white, clean and modern so that the attention is always focused on the pictures of the people.

The logo is a huge part of the visual brand and it also conveys the image of thriving.


The logo shows up just about everywhere…on office walls, on the health literature they hand out, on nurses uniforms. With every encounter the patient becomes a little more familiar with it and begins to make connections between that logo and the real life experience they are having with that brand.

Experience the Brand

The biggest misunderstanding people have about brands is that they believe a brand is simply a logo, a color scheme, or a general look that determines how all their marketing pieces will be designed. But a brand is really about reputation. A brand is what people think of or feel when they hear about or come in contact with your company. Most people are familiar with Kaiser Permanente, the logo, the advertisements, the “look.” And yet ask people about their experiences with Kaiser, and you’ll get some radically different responses. It is in those responses that you’ll see the true impact of the brand.

Personally, I’ve had great experiences with Kaiser. The staff is always friendly and knowledgeable. They offered some very helpful parenting classes. My doctors were easily reached via phone or email for questions that were important but didn’t warrant an actual visit. In my experience, thrive isn’t just a slogan that is broadcasted on radio commercials. It’s a mission statement that fuels every action of every staff member.

What do I think of when I hear “Kaiser Permanente”? It’s not the logo or the slogan or the decorations or the buildings. I think of my sweet midwife who regularly reassured me that my weight gain was normal. I think of the nurse who, when I called crying my eyes out and begging for anti nausea meds, very quickly got a prescription from the doctor so I could get the meds that day. I think of that perfect day in August when I got to hold my perfect baby boy after a long labor during which I required a whole team of nurses to get me through.

Three elements: messaging, visual, experience. Having one without the others will create a lopsided experience that won’t fully engage your clientele. Having all three will create a powerful brand that clients repeatedly use and share with others.

*DISCLAIMER- The views of this blog article are the views of the author and not the views of One Step Services or its affiliates. One Step does not endorse Kaiser Permanente nor does One Step officially encourage anyone to use Kaiser’s services. This is simply an article about the impact of corporate branding on one person and is in no way meant to sway one’s decision towards choosing a healthcare provider.



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