The first Beg to Differ Branding Field Trip.
Last week, viagra order I blogged on Beg to Differ about the birth of my son. Thank you all for your best wishes and brilliant thoughts on this incredibly moving experience for my wife and other two kids. But on the silly side of my brain, doctor the whole 3 days in the hospital, troche I had lines from the classic “Machine that goes Ping” sketch from Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life going through my head. And I was struck by how heavily branded the hospital environment is. So here are a few branding “pings” from the life and death world of the hospital.
Something completely different
I think Branders need to be students of branding trends, and have a big streak of geekiness. And it’s always best to look at branding practices from an outsider’s perspective. So as a non-medical guy, all these brands were new to me. A few random comments are below.
There’s a surprisingly hard-sell retro throwback feel to a lot of these product names. And in the case of the “V-LOK CUFF” a design style that looks like it came out of the back of a comic book.
Interesting story: at one point, a nurse was putting an intravenous drip into my wife’s arm and asked me to grab what she called an “eye-hand” from the cupboard. I couldn’t find it until she held up a package and I realized she was talking about the “IV3000 1-HAND” above. In our case, the misunderstanding wasn’t serious, but I wonder if that little brand misunderstanding has ever led to more serious consequences. Branding matters!
In a “serious” environment like a hospital, I’d expect muted, understated brand practices – heavy descriptive names and generic product numbers. But I was surprised how many of the product brands seemed to be using edgy or aggressive naming conventions. Notice a small sample of all the “X’s I found in brand names.
I especially like the “Stryker” beds I saw everywhere. Doesn’t that sound like the name of a hero from a cheesey pulp fiction thriller?
In the delivery room, the doctors and medical staff were giddy with excitement to try the “Rollbord” (above) which some were trying for the first time. I noticed that they didn’t call it a “SAMARIT” or even a “Samarit Rollbord” – even though the names are presented graphically at the same size. “Rollbord” is the dominant brand because it’s more useful.
This confused me. In the age of H1N1, I was diligently keeping my hands washed, and when I couldn’t, I would Purell them (note the verb). But the distributor of the hand-pumps above obviously tried to standardize the look and feel of the labels, even though they are different brands (and add French for a Canadian audience). The result? I kept reaching for the Purell when I needed soap and vice versa. In this case, the manufacturer’s branding would have been more useful.
What do you think?
Beg to Differ wants to hear from you:
- Any thoughts on these brands? What other branding trends do you see?
- Any perspectives on other medical industry brands?
- Do you like the branding field trip idea? Thoughts on other field trips we can take?
- Volunteers to lead guest expeditions?
Steve Woodruff says
I’ve seen a lot of naming of medical products over the years that are driven by the engineer culture – clumsy, meaningless, and/or technical names. You see this a lot in consumer electronics as well. Engineer and product designer types should NEVER be involved in branding/naming. And you can find more of my thoughts in my Nymoxlyrum XG-1291x branding manual…
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
Great point. My background is in consumer software which has the same problems.
But It struck me that the hospital “brandscape” is a fascinating intersection point between blue-collar industrial values, a largely white collar user-base, bureau-centric purchasing chains, and as you point out, engineer-driven product development practices.
Please tell me you’ve actually written the Nymoxlyrum XG-1291x brand manual. If you haven’t, somebody should!
Eric Hayward says
Dennis/Steve – I’m so glad you made the connection to software and electronics. I’m right there with you. I’ve had the weird but fortunate experience, to witness naming from the inside, at different firms that do very technical sorts of things (from software to consulting to CE). One of them was a health care consulting firm. I got so annoyed by the bad marketing in health care that I started a quixotic campaign (writing articles and such; doing a few presentations; about bad health care branding). I started from the advertising perspective, but later, got more caught up in the idealistic side of it (about people getting access to health care). Love this post and really enjoyed the comments. Thanks.
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
Eric, always nice to hear from a new voice here at the Differ – particularly one that knows the industry I’m showing myself to be such an outsider in.
Interesting approach setting up a “fight bad branding” campaign in the healthcare space. I could easily do the same in my town with a) high tech products & companies, b) government programs, c) not-for-profits, and d) local retail branding.
And it’s all about helping people get access to the stuff they need isn’t it?
Jennifer Ng says
Ouch that hurt, being an engineer myself.
Could “bad branding” just simply be compliance to the regulations?
The FDA does not mince their words when they talk about labeling (yes, yes, everything that you mentioned above and showed are considered labeling not just the stickers and so does every brochure, insert, package, etc that accompany the deemed device). http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/Overview/DeviceLabeling/default.htm
If one ever intend to sell any medical device internationally, one will have to check each country for their regulations (or lack thereof) before even sending the first shipment.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for good branding. However in the Medical Devices industry we cannot choose to leave out some information out just because it looks cluttered or too technical or stretch the truth to sell more. If we do, someone can die. Period. Safety is the main concern.
As for the “I-HAND” story, even if you had handed her something totally wrong, she is trained (hopefully) to check first to know what to administer to your wife. Devices are meant to be used by trained professionals unless specifically having clinical trials to demonstrate home use or other generic usability (e.g. the little diabetes blood level check devices you see sold at the drugstore and which all diabetics can use safely on their own at home).
I work in the Regulatory Affairs department and my role is to ensure that our company claims (usually through Marketing and Sales) are within our claims (those approved by the agencies).
I guess the best example of “off-labeling” in pharma that comes to mind is Pfizer being fined $2.3 billion by the FDA
Thanks to them, we can’t even provide a pen to our next sales event now!!
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
This is exactly why I tried not to be too harshly critical in reviewing these brands: I simply don’t have the background in the regulatory and business environment to see which choices are “bad branding” and which fall under “we have to do this by law”.
So yes, I have loads of sympathy and admiration for those of you who spend your careers in the trenches of such a highly regulated minefield.
However, that said, even if the choices are limited, there are choices. And looking at some of the naming conventions and design issues from within the same regulatory ecosystem, there is still room for effective, user-centric branding (probably followed by several pages of disclaimers).
Jennifer Ng says
Oh Dennis, I forgot to mention that I am a recent fan of your blog.
I forgot to mention that the Purell and Soap incident would concern me a bit more if I was an investigator. For instance, while using Purell to “fight” H1N1, the alcohol content might interfere with how a device operates. E.g.
(BTW this is all public access so put in your favourite brand there and see if any adverse events ever occurred. You would be surprised how misused some products are).
I put “fight” in parentheses because there are non-alcohol based products which do a better job. Purell has a better brand, that’s all. I have even seen “purell” used as a verb 😉
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
Thanks Jennifer for reminding me of two things: 1) the FDA site, and 2) Purell as a brand.
The rise of the Purell brand in the post-pandemic world is a topic I’ve been meaning to address on my blog. One of my first clients Paul Webber(www.webbertraining.com) is in the industrial / medical cleaning supplies business as well as being an advocate and trainer in the field of infection control. So perhaps an interview in the new year would be in order. Hmm.
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Canister Set says
consumer electronics these days are mostly composed of gadgets that are more into phones and internet connection ‘`”
Phyllis Brunell says
This excellent confused myself. Within the young age of H1N1, I was actually diligently getting my hands washed, and also whenever I couldn’t, I would Purell them (note the verb). But the supplier of the hand-pumps above definitely performed to standardize the appearance and additionally feel of the labels, actually though they are different companies (and put in French for a Canadian audience). The outcome? I saved finding for the Purell whenever I required soap and also vice versa. In this situation, the manufacturer’s branding could have been even more useful.