Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 8.29.21 AM Apple, Amazon, USAA – and patient centered medical homes? Yes, you can get there from here.  

We recently met with one of our healthcare clients to talk about their forming a patient-centered medical home. But our conversation took a twist when we started talking about the importance of patient experience.

It led us to talking about superb brand experience companies like Apple, Amazon and USAA. Because these companies leapfrog competition by managing their business from the outside in, putting “the customer” at the center of every decision they make. Similar to what’s required for brilliant execution of PCMH.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, in February 2007 the Joint Principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home were developed by the four largest primary care physician organizations (AAFP, AAP, ACP, and AOA). They include:

1. Personal physician – each patient has an ongoing relationship with a personal physician.

2. Physician directed medical practice – personal physician leads a team responsible for collective ongoing care of the patient.

3. Whole-person oriented care – personal physician is responsible for providing (or appropriately arranging) all of the patient’s care throughout all stages of life and care management.

4. Care is coordinated and/or integrated – across all elements of the health care system and the patient’s community where and when they need and want it, e.g.  through health IT, hospitals, specialists, home health, family, etc., in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.

5. Quality and safety – is focused on through patient advocacy, evidence-based practice of medicine, clinical decision support tools, continuous process improvement, use of health IT to measure and benchmark, appropriate and authoritative recognition by a non-governmental entity, and patient and family engagement.

6. Enhanced access – care includes enhanced access through open scheduling, expanded hours, and new patient-care team communication tools.

7. Payment – appropriately recognizes the added value delivered to patients who have a patient centered medical home.

There are always great insights, ideas and lessons to be learned from outside category role models. In this case, it’s because patients (who happen to be consumers) don’t compartmentalize their experiences on a category by category basis. The kind of experience they get from Amazon and Apple and USAA they expect from their healthcare providers. And in the case of the patient-centered medical home, it’s about…

  • a simplified and coordinated health care experience that provides the right care at the right time and place
  • creating a strong partnership between patient and primary care physician (similar to the partnerships between these great companies and their loyal customers)
  • improving health outcomes through care coordination
  • communication that’s central to advising and educating to keep patients healthy
  • giving patients better access to their information, and more contact with their medical team

Delivering the same kind of customer-centric experience that distances companies like Apple, Amazon and USAA from their competitors.

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In my mind, what’s most impressive about CVS’s decision to no longer carry tobacco products in any of their 7,600 stores as of October 1 (beyond the obvious benefit of helping to save lives) is the bold demonstration of a brand actually living its purpose. 

Short-Term Financial Hit, Long-Term Brand Building
Removing these products from store shelves will cost CVS about $2 billion a year or about 3% of overall sales. It’s also possible that competitors like Walgreens and Rite-Aid could gain market share by attracting CVS’s tobacco-purchasing customers.

Regardless, the company is making the right decision given its long-term strategic focus. According to President and CEO Larry Merlo: “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is simply the right thing to do, as it’s inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health.  As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role through our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners. By removing tobacco from our shelves, we will better serve our patients, clients and health care providers while positioning CVS Caremark for future growth as a health care company.”

Why Purpose Wins 
The most successful brands and businesses are aligned around a higher purpose that makes clear the organization’s inspirational reason for being – think Zappos, Whole Foods, Chipotle and Nordstrom. CVS’s purpose, once again, is to help people on their path to better health.

Consider these three study findings that reinforce the power of purpose:
1. 92% of millennials believe business success should be measured by something other than profits (Deloitte)
2. “Ideals-driven” businesses are more profitable than those that just think about the bottom line (Jim Stengel & Millward Brown Optimor)
3. Purpose is a definitive purchase trigger as consumers will praise and punish companies based on their active support of a good cause (Edelman GOODPURPOSE Study)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Articulating a purpose is one thing. Consistently delivering on it is another. Which is what’s so impressive about CVS’s decision. But it’s the right thing to do for an organization helping people on their path to better health. A path that more Americans are engaged around than ever before, as we’re asking that all health-related brands, be they products or services (or retailers), help us on the road to promote overall well-being.

It will be interesting to see how many others follow CVS’s lead. And how soon. Will Walgreens, which positions itself as being At The Corner of Happy and Healthy, be next. Though it has taken its own proactive step to reduce smoking addiction through its free, Internet-based smoking cessation program in partnership with GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Healthcare called Sponsorship to Quit.  Or will it be Walmart, who promises us that we can Save money. Live better.

The Opportunity For Healthcare Providers
CVS is transforming itself from a simple drugstore to an integrated health-care provider – positioning itself, and its customers, for healthy growth. But they’re just one of the many brands and retailers taking advantage of the enormous opportunity to help Americans close the gap between their healthy intentions and behaviors.

Who better than healthcare systems and hospitals to assist consumers on their journey to better health? To helping their communities to not only feel better, but to live better. Beyond push marketing approaches to tapping into the power of their healthcare system or hospital brands to meaningfully engage, motivate and actively support their healthy living. Creating uniquely branded experiences, resources and tools guided by purpose. 

What do you think about CVS’s decision?




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91% of Americans have a mobile device within reach 24 hours a day. Through responsive web design, your healthcare system, hospital or physician group website can also be within their reach. 

What is responsive web design?
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a method used by web designers that resizes a website based upon the resolution you are browsing it in. For example, your smartphone, tablet and computer all utilize different resolutions for their screens. Similar to a widescreen television versus a standard square television, these devices will display things differently. With RWD, a web designer can allow for the site to fill the screen perfectly no matter which device is browsing.

Why responsive design matters to healthcare systems and hospitals
In the past year, 72% of U.S. internet users acquired health-related information online (Pew Research).  Smartphone users (65% of Americans) spend 20% of their time within the confines of a web browser (smartinsights). You might think 20% is small, but that means every five minutes they are potentially spending one minute on your website – either being able to digest your content, or not. RWD allows your users to focus on your targeted efforts instead of focusing on pinching, scrolling and zooming.

From 2010 to 2013, the number of unique screen sizes has increased to 232 unique mobile screen sizes (spyderweb). Combine this with the increasing number of mobile users searching for health information online, and it is increasingly  important for healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups to deliver up-to-date digital experiences.

Responsive websites and SEO
RWD can also indirectly boost your website’s SEO. Search engines like Google judge websites in a similar fashion that a typical user would. Which means that if someone trying to browse on a website not designed for mobile results in their immediate click back out of the site, Google will view this as a negative and rank said site lower than others. Creating a more pleasurable viewing experience will help insure users stay on your website longer, in turn, raising your SEO.

The future (your future) is mobile
Statista says that 5 billion people will use mobile phones by 2017.  So while your healthcare system, hospital or physician group might be safe for now – your future online is bleak.  If you’re not providing a mobile-friendly experience for your healthcare customers, they’ll bounce off your website and go to your competitor whose website is easier to use. 

Some healthcare systems and hospitals who’ve moved to RWD:

1.   Saint Francis Healthcare
2.   Geisinger
3.   Oakwood
4.   Legacy Health
5.   Catholic Health
6.   University of Colorado Hospital
7.   Altru Health System
8.   Loyola Medicine
9.   Nationwide Children’s
10. Lakeland Regional Medical Center
11. Silverton Health
12. Florida Hospital
13. Einstein Healthcare Network
14. HealthSpan Network
15. Health Innovations Ohio
16. Northeast Cincinnati Pediatric Associates, Inc.
17. Texas Children’s Hospital
18. Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Have you made the transition to a responsive website? Have you seen the benefits from this update?


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Boomers are not new phenomena – they are the population born between 1946-1964 that are responsible for half of all discretionary spending in the United States. What is new is that they will dominate the world population by the year 2050 and on average these boomers can be expected to live to the age of 83 – longer than any previous generation [source: Harvard School of Public Health].

They will not only live longer, but they will lead more active, healthy lives, more independently and on their terms. They are single handedly defining the trends of a “new’ boomer generation and for generations to follow. And, there will be far-reaching implications on every industry, particularly health and wellness sectors who will have to adapt to their changing lifestyle needs, and quickly – as there is, and will continue to be a significant shift in delivery of health care.

So how can health and wellness sectors keep pace? By rethinking the way they interact and deliver solutions to Boomers. Most importantly, understanding that Boomers do not subscribe to a single type of lifestyle, and tend to pick and choose what makes sense for them based on their individual experiences and needs. They are information seekers who love to self-advocate for their health and are open to alternative options of care. They are a society-changing generation like no other and what is required to deliver on their needs matters more than we realize.

What influences Boomers health and lifestyle decisions, and what practices are being adopted to address them?

Demand will continue to grow for care of chronic health conditions, e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular, and joint disease to name a few, with about 60% of boomers experiencing more than one chronic condition by the year 2030 [source: American Hospital Association]. Healthcare providers and government agencies are acting, working on preventative measures to improve the future health of this generation and those to come –cultivating a more-informed, health-conscious society that could help turn back the tide.

  • Digital accessibility to health information has become a key component. With over 78% of Boomers online and their desire to adopt “what’s new and better,” great progress is being made in patient-managed technology including, Government-sponsored web sites; electronic health records, which ease tracking/sharing patient information for doctors; mobile health apps (mHealth) for improved efficiencies of health systems to consumer health management; online health forums; and progressive platforms such as Patients Like Me that are shifting the paradigm with a network that provides an effective way to share real-world health experiences between patients and health providers. One of the early adopters of this platform is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This generation will continue to focus on longevity and delaying the physical effects of aging.
With three out of four boomers doing what’s needed to lower their health risks and prevent disease, this generation has propelled the fitness movement and mainstreaming of holistic approaches to care. Compared to older generations, fitness and exercise are more culturally ingrained in their minds, and daily routines – it’s a way of life for them and they have motivation. One study showed that active people enjoyed 16 more years of healthy living than did inactive people [source: AARP] – some motivating statistics.

  • The prescription for wellness now comes in many forms. Outside of the digital accessibility discussed earlier, there are more conventional ways in which boomers are finding health and wellness solutions. There’s doctors offices where they can now experience an annual “wellness visit” and have a personalized prevention plan developed to stay healthy – evaluation is from a lifestyle (not medicinal) perspective, e.g. dietary habits, exercise, sleep and other daily routines. And, local drugstores like Walgreens, that are making navigating solutions to health much easier with “store within a store” layouts –where condition based products, such as diabetes management and heart health, are grouped together and labeled with shelf tags. But let’s also not forget that wellness goes beyond physical well-being for this generation. It’s also about one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual health (mind-body-spirit), which has created a steady increase in the popularity of yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other body-mind fitness disciplines proven to have physical and mental benefits.

The Future Is Diversity

Boomers are not a homogeneous group, and one-size-fits-all solutions will not prevail. Their movement toward self-care to enjoy a satisfying, fulfilling life, coupled with research based evidence on healthy living, is stimulating demand for practical, long-term solutions. The brands that truly take the time to understand the forces that are changing and moving these consumers will succeed. Follow them on their path, become part of their lifestyle, speak to them in their language, and you will join them on their journey.

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Healthcare system and hospital websites can be difficult to navigate, with all the information that different internal teams believe needs to be conveyed. The result can be content overload and lack of engagement and conversion. This is in spite of the fact that patients and families rely on your website more than ever to make decisions about where they’ll go for their care. 

With more and more tools available for web design, it might surprise some that the biggest emerging trend is one of simplicity. Bells and whistles are being used in more tasteful and subtle ways, so that technology doesn’t overshadow story telling or take the focus off of valuable content.

Here are four trends to help you create a cleaner, more focused and more satisfying healthcare website experience.

1) Flat Design: Simple For Strategy’s Sake.

While flat design might seem like a purely aesthetic decision, it is actually a strategic choice as well. Stripping designs down to their simplest form allows you to focus user attention on what matters most, the most important content on your site and the actions you want users to take. Overuse of textures, heavy gradients and irrelevant imagery are distracting and can pull one’s eyes in every direction. This trend can now be seen everywhere, from websites to applications that we use everyday like the operating systems on our phones.

Mediatemple has recently redesigned their site to embrace this trend and the result is a well organized site with a clear hierarchy and focus.

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2) Fewer Navigation Items: Less Options, More Conversion

A recent trend that has emerged has been to remove most of the main navigation items from immediate view on our sites. Many websites are hiding their main navigation bars all together to even further focus the users attention on the main action they would like them to take. While it might still be important to read “our story” or peruse “FAQ’s,” the fact is, these items are secondary to your main call to action and their constant presence on the screen is a distraction from your primary message.

Squarespace does a good job of this. They want to get users directly into experiencing their product. They have just a few core options listed and then a menu button to access the full range of pages on the site.

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While we have not seen the last of navigation bars and won’t for some time, it is an interesting trend that should be considered as a viable option to help further focus user attention.

3) Whitespace: Usability’s best friend

Whitespace is an extremely important tool for designers. It allows us to keep your user’s focus where you want it on the page. It also makes content much easier to read and makes UI elements much easier to find.

Dropbox does a great job of using whitespace in its website as well as the application itself. As a result, everything has plenty of breathing room and is easy to find.

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4) Above the fold: Focused, clean and highly targeted.

Above the fold content is still invaluable to a website’s ability to communicate and inspire action. Users are however more comfortable scrolling through content on the web than they once were. So what has really changed is our need to make sure that a visitor sees all that your site has to offer in those top pixels. This area should be reserved for your most important action or message ensuring the user absorbs it before moving on through your site. Below the fold you can start to tell more of your story and provide more paths for users to take.

Square’s homepage is an extremely effective landing page for the site. It is focused on a single message and action, allowing the user to take in more if they choose to, but not until after they have absorbed the main message.

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Eight indisputable facts that support the business case for marketing to baby boomers – a market of over 100 million people who spend over $3 trillion per year and represent the only real big growth market that still exists.


A division of Trajectory, Boomergy is a strategic and creative consultancy 100% focused on helping marketers win the loyalty of 50+ consumers. Interested in learning more? Call Eric Brody at 973-292-1400 x201.

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Hospital merger and acquisition activity remains robust. In 2012, the number of deals was more than twice that of 2009 (Irving Levin Associates).

Regardless of the reasons for the transaction, being able to position the new entity for success, attract and retain patients and drive new growth requires coordinating the three related activities of Brand, Buy-In & Marketing.

Without this planning and oversight, hospitals and healthcare systems in the midst of transitioning through a merger or acquisition (regardless of which side of the M&A an organization is on) will encounter:

• a brand that struggles to support the newly-formed organization’s vision, promises, values and goals
• a fractured internal audience that must be relied on to deliver unified messages and experiences
• external marketing promises that aren’t synchronized with delivery of care
• inefficiencies resulting in sub-optimal return on marketing investment

At Trajectory, we’ve guided many healthcare organizations through these transitions, and understand the unique challenges they face. Here’s a checklist of 10 activities to consider as your healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups transition from pre-merger competitors to post-merger partners:


1. M&A brand team: created across your organization’s to proactively act on and communicate leadership decisions and to navigate the range of tangibles and intangibles on the table, e.g. logistics, preparation, training.

2. Brand compatibility: short-term financial and market share strength will not overcome the need to develop a singular brand vision, positioning, key messaging framework and set of values.

3. Portfolio efficiency: how will the merger or acquisition impact your brand portfolio in terms of overlapping organizational, facility and service line capabilities? You can check here to begin to determine if your portfolio is delivering maximum ROI.


4. Cultural fit: what’s the process of integrating medical staff and employees, across all functions, and all initiatives, on both sides of the M&A table. And whose culture leads?

5. Open communication: have you established feedback mechanisms (both offline and online) for both internal and external audiences to share their perspectives about the impact the M&A will have on their lives.

6. Engagement & Alignment: are your organization’s really on the same page? You don’t know, and can’t act upon, until you measure.


7. Marketing philosophy and approach: is marketing considered an investment or expense? Does it tend to be brand or service line-driven? How will you align your two organizations relative to each one’s key revenue generating, strategic and mission-driven service lines?

8. Social media practices: it’s not likely that each of your organization’s have the exact same philosophy, goals, strategies and tactics as it relates to social media. How will you best harness the power of your “social currency”, i.e. the value you’ve created and the conversations, communities and advocacy you’ve worked so hard to cultivate?

9. Local community commitment: do your organizations have the same commitment to your local communities; does bigger now mean less touch in order to serve the health needs of the larger region?

10. From follower to leader: how will you adjust your approach from being the #2 or #3 player to becoming a stronger market share leader?

Have you experienced these issues as a healthcare marketer in the midst of a merger or acquisition?

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healtcareImagine how you’d feel if your healthcare provider treated you like Apple or USAA?

I thought of this idea on a recent post-op visit to a top healthcare provider. While the surgery was a clinical success, I wondered why my ‘brand experience’ was not. Was it my failed attempts at setting-up the initial consultation (stuck in an unending web of automated voice prompts), my inability to pre-register online (hand-written forms still required), the sharp (and I don’t mean in a good way) insurance liaison I had to engage with, or maybe my inability to connect with a caring professional post-op (online communication not allowed).

Waiting for my appointment, I pondered what they could learn from both Apple and USAA – two amazing organizations that I value and respect. Who truly put the customer at the center of everything they do and consider their perspective in every decision they make. Who design everything around their customers’ journey – processes, technology, policies, partners, rewards – so they all work together to support and reinforce delivering a superior brand experience. Not just meeting needs, but delighting customers!

So how is the customer experience for Apple or USAA relevant to the healthcare brand experience?

Because critical to your business success is understanding that your brand reputation is based on how your customers perceive their interactions with your organization – across every touch-point. It does (and will) determine whether they stay with you, what they say about you, and whether they advocate for you. It’s either you or your dreaded competition (and subsequent loss of revenue, referrals and brand reputation).

The customer experience is even more important in today’s competitive and complex healthcare arena, as healthcare consumers are finally empowered, have choices, and most importantly, have voices (social media and word-of-mouth speak volumes). Done correctly, it can be the true differentiator, lead to real profits and foster loyalty.

Now what if that healthcare provider I went to had thought about me as the center of their universe (which I should be), creating one team who understood and managed my customer journey – versus entrusting it to a series of internally driven silos that were not interdependent or supportive of one another? I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.

Below are 8 ways (adapting from companies like Apple and USAA) that healthcare providers can create change and begin to build a better “branded” customer experience:

1. Filter through a customer lens – map the customer journey, as it’s the only way to identify areas for improvement, opportunity and innovation

2. Commit to the details – make it easy to do business with you (KISS) as patients are just like us, and want to deal with providers who have a can-do attitude and will make their life better (literally and figuratively)

3. Create a feedback loop – invite and listen to what your patients have to say (across all channels) to identify the challenges they encounter and how to solve (targeted surveys, calls, social media, etc.)

4. Build trusted relationships – with ‘care coordinators’ trained to be go-to resources, assisting patients through the process, alleviating barriers, and delighting whenever possible

5. Focus on appreciation– shift from an operational focus to one that aligns around your purpose, value proposition and dedication to customer appreciation

6. Personalize the experience – behavioral data collection and analysis should be king, as insights gained will allow you to deliver more personalized care

7. Empower employees – engage them as they rule and have a huge impact on the customer experience, so make sure their ideas are heard

8. Embrace digital – allow patients to interact with you where and how they like, including information exchange using smart phones and tablets, as the lines are blurring

What do you think? How would you characterize your more recent experiences with your healthcare providers?

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Here’s further proof of the importance of opening up your eyes to the outside world and not thinking of competitors as only those selling similar services.

The convergence of healthcare and mobile technology is shaping the future of how healthcare (and healthcare marketing) is delivered to the patient wherever they are. As reported on mobilehealthnews.com, Fitbit shipped the most activity trackers in 2013 according to NPD Group (now estimated to be a $330 million market). But it’s also even a convergence with fashion, as Fitbit announced a partnership with designer Tory Burch to create new accessories.

According to NPD:

• one in three consumers say they have heard of wearable fitness trackers
• about 28% said they’re likely to buy a device (with 50% saying calorie-counting is the most sought after feature; and 32% saying tracking steps was most desirable feature)
• surprising, only 6% had interest in sharing their fitness data via social media
• and slightly more women were interested in buying trackers than men

For me, the implication for healthcare marketers is twofold:

First. No one ever said you need to play by an accepted set of category rules. While there are certain points of parity (i.e. clinical services and quality) important to deliver, points of difference are as well (as brands must be perceived as different, better and special in order to retain and grow customers).

Second. It’s critical to at least periodically step back to understand and observe your customers and their journey (beyond a quantitative study), in order to tap into what really matters most to them, deliver new value to them and sustain and grow your relationship with them.

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In the changing and challenging healthcare marketplace where patients have now become more empowered and more scrutinizing customers – and organizations are facing reimbursement (and therefore marketing budget) cuts – clearly defining and differentiating your brand is a must.

Healthcare marketers, whether system, hospital, specialty physician-based, or other, can take a cue from these two outside category sport and leisure brands – Nike and Brooks Running (who repositioned and differentiated itself in order to hit its stride again).

Nike vs. Brooks Running

They’re both in the same market, competing for the same customer, both successful – but with different positioning and different approaches to marketing.  Nike is the undisputed champ of all things athletic, as validated by its number one position on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2013 list, known for its technological ingenuity.

With its latest invention, NikeFuel, the parent brand has taken sportswear to a whole new level – not only does the new bracelet satisfy consumers’ need to feel engaged and social (via NikeFuel’s online community), it allows Nike to track customer behavior AND serves as a permanent, walking advertisement.  Nike has transcended through sportswear into “tech, data, and services,” so its only natural that its marketing should wear a digital track suit.

However, Brooks Running is a completely different story – at one point, tried to compete with Nike on the “full-on athletic” front, but realizing it could not, has since repositioned itself as a premium performance running-only athletic-wear company.  In stark contrast with Nike’s bold and sometimes controversial advertising, Brooks runs towards the light with “Run Happy” and prefers more grassroots avenues of marketing – focusing on social media and word of mouth. In recent years, Brooks has seen a surge of success, growing sales from $180 million in 2009 to $409 million in 2012.

So, what can healthcare marketers glean from the success of these two sport and leisure heavyweights?

1. Don’t rest on laurels (or languish from complacency). This year marks Brooks’ centennial – if CEO, Jim Weber hadn’t taken the risk 12 years ago to launch a rebrand of the company, we may all be wearing Nike shoes today. Take a cue from companies that tried to innovate/reinvent too late (RIP Blockbuster, Borders, Tribune Publishing…sorta).

“Business models are not meant to be static…In the world we live in today, you have to adapt and change. One of my fears is being this big, slow, constipated, bureaucratic company that’s happy with its success. That will wind up being your death in the end.” – Mark Parker, Nike CEO

2. Know who you are. Nike and Brooks’ goal is to build a captive audience of repeat customers, as well as new ones (similar to healthcare providers), which starts with putting a stake in the ground regarding who you are, who you’re for, what you do and why you matter.

3. Total commitment. Both Nike and Brooks have stayed true to their respective positionings’ and remain focused on delivering on them through their actions (similar to healthcare providers demonstrating their focus of why they’re the smart and best choice for an individual’s healthcare and well-care).

“Focus, focus, focus. Strong brands are built over decades, not years. If you keep changing what you stand for, no one will really know and trust your values, philosophies, spirit and point of view.” – Jim Weber, Brooks CEO

Ultimately, the only sustainable difference you have is your brand. Which starts with getting your idea right, promises right, voice right, delivery right.

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