Joelle Friedland, co-founder and head of customer service at creative agency Minds + Assembly, writes that healthcare brands need to build relationships with people, both patients and physicians, rather than promoting the functional benefits of a product or service. Healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, Friedland argues, often ignore the physical and emotional reality of what a patient may experience.
We are overloaded with “deep and meaningful” manifests for everyday goods and services. But when it comes to things that really matter – like healthcare, medicine, and pharmaceuticals – we are too often faced with innocuous platitudes. We need communications that compel, that create not only understanding, but belief.
Today, every brand has the same idea: to make an “authentic” connection with their customers, as people, to show the world that they understand – that they understand you. That’s why we end up watching and listening to poetic monologues that deliver the deeply emotional import of all kinds of goods and services, search engines, mutual funds, jeans, and laundry detergents. Everything matters so much!
We are bombarded with messages extolling the virtues of a life lived with these products. Then we come back to Earth with a thud and realize that the lighter clothes are nice, but not life changing. It’s manifesto overload. And it is fallacious and inauthentic. I don’t want to know more about how I can connect with the essence of humanity by buying the right pair of denim (no matter how much I love jeans).
Ironically, those things that actually change life, extend life, or even save lives (health, medicine, and pharmaceuticals), are so often relegated to the bland world of platitudes and sweet statements. We often seem to be one step away from the reality of the situation.
But, this is really a difficult thing. Imagine going to bed every night wondering if your body is going to rebel and your throat is going to close while you sleep. Or accept the fact that to live you have to connect to a tube for 16 hours a day. Or even to face school with a keen awareness, with every step, of the acne that has invaded your face. There are real elements of courage here. And, yes, real elements of beauty.
Let’s be realistic
We recognize that we are not for everyone. In fact, as an agency, we refused contracts to clients when we could have used the revenues. We also turned down pitches that would have been huge if we had won. Some would call it silly. We like to think of it as essential. We will not dilute our product. And we’ve found that there are enough clients who insist on getting to the heart of a disease to find out the real story. This is where we find stories of courage and beauty, communications that will force, that will create not only understanding, but belief.
Make a truer connection
Of course, I have a more important point. It’s that when dealing with the kind of issues that can legitimately claim to be “life or death”, we so often see ideas that fail to connect.
Done well, branding in this industry has the power to enhance the experience that people living with disease can have with a brand, and this can have overwhelmingly positive effects, including presenting a genuinely optimistic view of the brand. what life could be like with the benefits of the brand. . But you have to face reality head-on and find beauty and authenticity in it.
A new belief system
Additionally, many brands in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are guilty of promoting the functional benefits of their products, rather than forming meaningful relationships with people to improve their lives.
Brands often ignore the reality of what a person is actually experiencing, thereby downplaying the physical and emotional reality. But by showing how a person’s life might be different with a particular brand, and how they might meet their needs and serve a meaningful purpose, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies have the potential to forge strong and credible relationships. . And it works. We know this from experience.