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NHS branding versus trust

6th April 2009

Writing in Health Service Journal, Hilary Thomas looks at what really makes a difference in the NHS.

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Over the past year, I have been involved in two re-branding exercises.

Despite more than 20 years in the health service, the concept of brand had not taken up much of my intellectual energy.

While the concept of brand developed towards the end of the 19th century, they are now becoming more important components of culture and economy.

Each has a characteristic but understanding its message, what it conveys and distinguishing between the psychological aspect and the experiential aspect is important and particularly relevant when delivering healthcare.

Brand experience, the symbolic vision created in people’s minds to convey information and expectations, has to be more than a change of identity.

It needs to be built in a way that has real meaning for employees and consumers.

It can articulate the values of an organisation and explore leadership behaviours. Paramount in that is trust.

I saw this when I revisited an independent mental health hospital after a 14-month gap.

Earlier, at the time of an internal investigation, the demoralised manager conveyed a poor impression. On my return, I was struck by the enthusiasm and focus.

It was brought about by the trust she had gained in her line manager and the team around him.

Whether an experience, or a product, the degree of trust in the people translates into the influence of the brand.

The ability to trust and the continuous reinforcement of that trust has more impact than any investment in a logo.

 

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