Branding: Assessing functional and emotional benefits


If you were to poll the general public and ask them, “What is a brand?” Most of them would describe a logo—the symbol that represents a business. But a brand is not a symbol—just as much as a person is not their name. Yes, symbols and names can be powerful identifiers, but they are not substantial enough to create lasting relationships with your customers. Businesses that want loyal customers must think deeper. They must think like their customers and assess both the functional and emotional benefits that customers receive when experiencing their products and services.

For example, Starbucks Corp. is functionally in the coffee business, but they are emotionally in the business of creating a unique consumer experience. Or, as Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz put it, “We’re in the business of human connection and humanity, creating communities in a third place between home and work.” Their clarity and ability to execute this has helped Starbucks become an exceptionally successful and identifiable brand.

As a cosmetic or plastic surgery practice, you may be providing a fairly straight forward functional benefit to your customers/patients, but in order to define your emotional benefit as a brand, you need to think outside the proverbial box. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help find what is meaningful to your customers and patients so you can further develop your brand.

  1. How is your brand perceived both internally and externally today? (Do not replace this with “How do we want to be perceived?” or “What is our mission or vision statement?”) Be honest with yourself. Ask for honest responses from colleagues, stakeholders, employees, patients, or your friends here at SEP.
  2. What makes us unique? You must have something that sets you apart. This is similar to what Dana talks about in her post. What procedures do you want to be known for performing? Is there a certain atmosphere that you want to create in your practice? All of these elements can be part of your unique brand.
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