Friday, March 5, 2010

The Value of Branding: Right on Target

Below is a blog entry from guest blogger, Sandra Blum. Sandra is a genetic counselor who has worked for many years marketing genetic services. Sandra currently works for Genentech on the patient marketing team, but she writes below about her experience at her last job at Genomic Health, which offers Oncotype DX, a pharmacogenetic test for breast cancer. Sandra describes how creating a brand translates to benefits for the NSGC.

Liz Kearney, MS, CGC, MBA
NSGC President



One of my favorite projects in the last year was identifying the brand identity of the product that I worked on. This was an exercise in characterizing the brand's personality within the company in order to establish external branding that would be unique, recognizable, and long-lived. In the process, we talked about a variety of products and companies that have very successfully honed in on their brand identity and leveraged that to establish themselves in their respective markets.

As a fan of Target, I love that their internalized brand identity is apparently "cheap chic". I think this is so spot on - the store has great prices on great looking stuff. Might not be the highest quality, but that's not what they are about. This brand identity has helped the Target chain stay focused on what they do best and what is unique about them, and the brand is carried throughout their advertising and the products you'll find in their store. There is a difference between Target and Walmart - and that stems from their brand identity translated into their branding and decision-making.

The same can be said of NSGC. Genetic counselors are a unique group of providers and our professional organization has something unique to say to us as members as well as to external stakeholders. Our "brand identity" is a way to crystallize our goals and inform the choices we make as a professional organization, and our logo and branding is a way to express that visually and succinctly.

2 comments:

  1. A. GeneticcounselorMarch 12, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    Ms. Blum writes above:

    "As a fan of Target, I love that their internalized brand identity is apparently "cheap chic". I think this is so spot on - the store has great prices on great looking stuff. {snip} There is a difference between Target and Walmart - and that stems from their brand identity translated into their branding and decision-making."

    This comment suggests that branding is an outgrowth of a real difference or differences in product (both tangible and intangible) between two companies. To me (a non-MBA trained, long-time consumer in the capitalist marketplace), branding is an effort to take an (often) undifferentiated product and use a bunch of hand-waving to convince consumers (whoever the 'target' is) that the product is different from all the other products on the market.

    I don't think there is a difference between the products that Target and Walmart sells. I think they WANT us to think that and hence, they've 'branded' themselves differently. Therefore, it's ironic that Ms. Blum states that what Target sells makes their brand 'spot-on'. It's the reverse. If they've successfully branded themselves, their branding is spot on because they've convinced us that they're product is different. It doesn't necessarily MAKE it any different.

    I have no objection to NSGC branding itself. But please, let's not fool ourselves into believing that having a 'brand' de facto represents a difference between our 'product' and the 'product' of another association or health care provider. The evidence for that comes through empiric data, not a marketing strategy.

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  2. I wrote a comment a few weeks ago that was never publicly posted. I'm guessing it was deemed inappropriate by a moderator. I don't know the reason why. Again, my guess is that it's a result of my negative opinion of branding.

    I think that if negative comments will not be posted (including comments that are reasonable, even if they don't agree with the blog author's opinion), that should be stated clearly. Alternatively, the option to make comments should be turned off.

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