When the real world commandeers your brand name

It's usually good news when your startup's name sticks and everyone knows it. Sometimes the name sticks for the wrong reason, as mobile payment startup Isis is finding out.

Isis, which was founded by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless and allows users to flash their mobile phone to make payments using Near Field Communication or enhanced SIM cards, has the unfortunate circumstance of having the same name as the militant group, ISIS, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS, the militants, has made a lot of news, not much of it good. 

Now Isis, the startup, is making news — it's changing it's name.

Isis, the startup, posted a message from CEO Michael Abbott yesterday titled "Embarking on a New Brand." Abbott says:

However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering. As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand.

Abbott says the name change process is just beginning. But I suspect it will be swift.

Props to Isis, the startup, for the bold move. It's never easy to rebrand, but a service as critical as a mobile payment system must first exude confidence in its users. The company must eliminate any doubt, uncertainty or confusion that could compromise that confidence.


Are you running a brand police state?

I have a confession: I am a recovering member of the Brand Police.

In fact, I once was presented an actual badge from my staff to memorialize my diligence in policing our hospital's logo usage.

But the times they have a' changed. 

In our burgeoning era of social engagement, the idea of brands is evolving. No longer should we think of brands as company-managed promotional vessels, but rather the living, breathing experience that our customers, patients and clients have when they interact with our organizations.

Brands reflect the experience people have with us. When we ensure the experience is great — every time! — then we are truly being great stewards of our brands.

So if people love our brand, let them show it — their way. Genuine expression of love beats manufactured perfection every day.

Source: Thanks to Tom Fishburne for his inspiration today!

Push yourself. @Nike says "possibilities" are endless.

Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Heck, challenge others.

Just do it.

This great new "Just Do It" video from Nike really resonates, even if I was the 1,471,404th person to have seen it!

The campaign behind it solidly embodies the "Just Do It" brand credo — push yourself to places you hadn't imagined you could go. 

And the music is killer ("Future Starts Slow" by The Kills)! 

What is the voice of your brand?

In health care, your brand voice is your people — your patients, their families and your staff.

Your brand is what each of these groups say about your organization.

It's what patients tell others about how they were treated. It's what they whisper, good or bad, about what they witnessed your staff doing in their idle time.

And it's what your staff — doctors, nurses, caregivers and non-caregivers — say about the what it's like to work for you.

When you have built a strong organizational culture — one of inclusion, listening, transparency and compassion — then you have a strong brand story to tell.

An out-of-industry example comes from the Danish shipping company Maersk, which sheds light on how focusing on the voices of an organization can bring life and attention to a brand. Writing for AdPulp, David Burn notes:

It is safe to say, “brand voice” is no longer something best whipped up in an ad agency brainstorm. Rather, a real living brand voice — one with resonance and power — is an amalgamation of the human voices who work at the company.

In health care, those voices must include the patients and their families. They already tell stories about their experience — you want those stories to always be positive and enlightening.

Source: AdPulp


Is your brand on the map?

Mapping brands seems to be all the rage. Here are two recent brand maps of the U.S. 

Think of what this might look like for health care.

What metrics would you use to determine the single dominant brand in one state — size, reputation, profitability, patient satisfaction scores, commitment to charity care, U.S. News "Best Hospitals" ranking?

In states like Minnesota or Ohio, the brands might be obvious (arguably Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, respectively).

But what about states like Massachusetts and Texas that have cities rich in prestigious health care brands, such as Boston and Houston?

For most health systems, your brand must stand out in your own market and have the strength to have patients "stay local," even in the face of larger regional and national brands.

The not-so-secret sauce is a blend of clinical quality (skills, experience and top outcomes), organizational culture (a sense that those who work there love to) and a truly exceptional patient experience (when patients and families say, "Wow!"). 

The Corporate States of America from Steve Lovelace.

The Corporate States of America from Steve Lovelace.

Red, White and Booze from Thrillist.

Red, White and Booze from Thrillist.