<![CDATA[Brand equity, which is consumer based, is developed when there is high level of awareness and knowledge about the brand in the minds of consumers. The consumer is familiar with the healthcare brand in such a way that the brand earns a strong, unique and favorable response from its consumers. To achieve these goals it is important to create brand recognition and recall, which will in turn build up brand awareness. Additionally, developing healthcare marketing programs that link unique and favorable memories to the brand are important to create a brand image. All these activities when put together will help in building a brand.
Healthcare providers need to extend a step wise approach towards building a healthcare brand. Some of the steps included are as follows:
· Brand identity – To create a brand identity in the minds of the consumers. They should be able to associate the brand with a specific healthcare product category or a specific type of healthcare service. It is about creating brand salience with consumers and the ease at which consumers can recall or recognize this brand. By building brand awareness, healthcare providers help the consumers to understand the health product or the healthcare service category in which this brand is competing. It also makes sure that the consumers or patients are aware, as to which of their healthcare needs would be satisfied by the particular brand.
· Brand meaning – To establish a meaning to the brand by linking brand associations that explains what the healthcare brand is about and its characteristics. This includes brand performance, which explains the way in which the brand meets consumer’s more functional needs. This could be in terms of reliability, durability, cost effective, service effectiveness etc depending on what consumers expect from a healthcare product or service to rate it as a high performance brand. Another aspect of brand meaning is brand imagery. This depends on the external properties of the healthcare product or service and also the way it is related to consumer psychological needs. This could be based on user profiles, like gender, age differentiation, or usage situations, personalities, experiences etc. For example, a health drink is specifically associated with sports and also uses sport persons in the marketing of that brand. It has created an image that persons involved in sports will gain more energy and stamina by using this health drink.
· Brand response – After putting together the brand performance and brand imagery associations, consumers develop their own opinions and evaluations about a brand. These are brand judgments and include brand quality that depends on qualities and benefits of the brand, brand credibility about company as a whole, brand consideration in relation to strong brand associations and brand superiority in terms of uniqueness of the brand in minds of consumers. An important factor in brand response is the brand feelings. These are the consumers’ emotional reactions to the brand. A brand can evoke various feelings in the minds of consumers like feeling of warmth and tenderness, fun and entertainment, excitement, security and comfort, social approval, self esteem, etc. For example a skin cream brand has an image of providing tender skin care in form of creams, lotions, etc and can be safely used by the entire family. This creates a feeling of warmth, tenderness and comfort in the minds of consumers for that brand.
· Brand resonance – This is the relationship that the healthcare brand shares with its consumers. It describes the nature of this relationship and the extent to which the consumer feels bonded with the brand. This can be identified by behavioral loyalty, emotional attachment, feeling of community and active involvement of consumers or patients. For example, patients have special feelings about a hospital brand, feel attached to it and want to be a part of it, thereby showing overwhelming positive response to the hospital initiatives.
Healthcare providers need to understand that according to customer based brand equity, the power of brands lies in the hands of the consumers. Also, the efforts taken in the right direction and in a correct manner in order to build a strong brand will help in to create brand awareness and evoke favorable consumer response, thereby building brand equity.]]>