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!

Still time to join health care communications pros for #NESHCo2014

There's still time to join New England's top health care communications pros for three days of education, networking and general awesomeness.

"High Stakes Communications: Best Bets for Healthcare Engagement" is the theme for the New England Society for Healthcare Communications 2014 Spring Conference, to be held May 14 through 16 in Mystic, Conn.

NESHCo always puts on a first-rate conference. The speaker lineup is fabulous and the topics are hitting on today's hot issues.

I'll be speaking on patient engagement and why marketing and communication strategies are integral to success (general session on Thursday, May 15, at 10 a.m.).

Register today!

How it's done (queue up the video)

How did they do that?

We all want to know how something gets done. Video is a great way to bring people inside a world they will never experience firsthand.

Here are three examples, including one in health care where our patients could definitely benefit from understanding what we do — and why.

1. Olympic Luge.

Luge (and its even crazier cousin skeleton) is one of those sports that gets its shining moment every four years. What's it like to barrel down the Sochi Olympic luge course at 80 mph?


2. Formula 1 Pit Stop.

If you've ever changed a tire or your oil, you know how long and frustrating it can be. The Ferrari Formula 1 pit crew can do it — and a dozen other adjustments — in just 2 seconds.

Source: Kottle.org 


3. Health Care Medical Laboratory.

We take blood and tissue samples from patients every day, but what happens to them? What are they looking for? This is a great video from Bowling Green State University in Ohio from Nick Corbin Productions.

Patient engagement must begin with plain language

Hardwire. Analytics. Evidence. Patterns. Models of care.

These terms all mean something to health care and IT professionals. 

They mean nothing to patients.

This vocabulary divide was highlighted in a recent interview with David Muntz, System Vice President & CIO at GetWellNetwork, on the HIMSS website ("Ask the Expert: Patient Engagement - The 'New' End Game," December 23, 2013):

Q: Why is Patient Engagement so critical to the overall success of health reform?

A: The role of the patient and family has become increasingly important. We can successfully install the new EHRs and associated products, but without true patient engagement, without a new effective partner relationship, we as individuals and as a nation will not get the complete potential value available to us. Patients must become activated. The best way to do that in both the existing and evolving models of care is to use information technology to hardwire processes and to perform analytics which will be crucial to affirming existing evidence as well as discovering patterns that we didn’t see without the new tools. 

Muntz's ideas are right on. And while he's speaking to IT folks, who understand the terms and syntax, the choice of words excludes patients and families at a time when their role, as Muntz notes, "has become increasingly important."

Let's deconstruct the last two sentences, which are the most important.

From Muntz:

Patients must become activated. The best way to do that in both the existing and evolving models of care is to use information technology to hardwire processes and to perform analytics which will be crucial to affirming existing evidence as well as discovering patterns that we didn’t see without the new tools. 

And now present it in a way patients and families can understand:

We want patients to become partners in their care. The best way to do that — right now and in the future — is to help them get comfortable with technology and make it an important and easy part of their daily lives. When we do that, together, both patients and providers will be able to see what is truly happening with a patient's health and take steps to improve it. 

Patient engagement starts by talking the same language. We have to speak in terms our patients and their families can understand — and we can accomplish that by dropping the jargon and biz-speak and getting back to plain language that everyone can understand — with no translation required.

Source: HIMSS

This post originally appeared on EngagingPatients.org, a blog dedicated to advancing patient and family-centered care. I am a member of the Engaging Patients Advisory Board and write for the blog.