People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This is Simon Sinek’s simple, smart idea presented through his TED talk: How great leaders inspire action. He calls his idea the ‘golden circle.” And it explains why some leaders and companies are able to inspire while others are not. It’s a concept that can’t really be boiled down to it’s essentials any further. But its value is big.

All companies know what they do. Most can identify how they do it. But far fewer (like Virgin, Harley Davidson, Six Senses, Innocent, Lululemon – my examples) can really identify why they do it – articulating why they really do what they do.

And “why” reflects how people make decisions (within their limbic brain, which controls our feelings) supported with the information (the “hows and whats”) people need to know to make them.

Simon’s ideas can just as effectively be applied to brand-building. And in some cases, might effectively replace the vision and mission statements which tend to sit and collect dust on corporate shelves.

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I was reading this post – Building Social Media Audiences – on Anna Farmery’s The Engaging Brand Blog.

But her points also apply to being able to build large audiences around a brand – by delivering a story that continues to surprise and unfold over time, and that audiences see themselves in and want to be a part of.

Anna’s points about social media begin as follows (giving you just enough for you to appreciate the brand-building parallels):

• They have a direction…
• They are not one off articles but reflect the growth…
• They are true to their brand character…
• They express views but leave those slight gaps for the audience to fill in…
• The social media activity is a story within a story…

A lot like brand-building, don’t you think? Involving your consumer in an evolving story over time and letting them (inviting them to) add their own reflections.

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Six Senses is a resort and spa management and development company, established in 1995 by Sonu Shivdasani. Its core purpose is to create innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate guests’ love of SLOW LIFE.*

From the top down, everything about Six Senses drives from this purpose…

– enthusiastic leadership embracing and living the brand, and working to deliver on what it promises
– cult-like culture engaged and aligned around Six Senses core values
– organizational structure borrowing from nature
– uniquely branded experiences absorbed by all the human senses
– authentic delivery:
• building materials and finishes from sustainable and local sources
• quality and origin of the food
• innovative experiences that heighten guests knowledge

If you’re not familiar with Six Senses, take a few minutes to learn more about this high-energy brand.

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According to two researchers from John Hopkins University, the answer is yes – with some effort.

They analyzed more than two billion tweets for health-related terms and say their research shows Twitter can be a valuable source of public-health information about a wide range of ailments.

The study, A Model for Mining Public Health Topics from Twitter, (download the pdf here), started with tweets posted to Twitter between 5/09 – 10/10. The two men – Mark Dredze, a researcher at the university’s Human Language Technology Center and Michael J. Paul, a doctoral student – then used a software algorithm to filter out approximately 1.5 million messages that referred to health-related issues, by focusing on a variety of terms related to medical issues and illnesses.

Said Dredze “we determined that indeed Twitter posts could be a useful source of public health information. In some cases, we probably learned some things that even the tweeters’ doctors were not aware of, like which OTC medicines the posters were using to treat their symptoms at home.” One example being “Had to pop a Benadryl … allergies are the worst.”

You can read the full article here.

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Dave deBronkart (e-Patient Dave) was not “statistically-speaking” supposed to win his battle with cancer. But he beat his disease by turning to fellow patients online, and found the medical treatment that saved his life. Since that time, he’s advocated tirelessly for all patients to talk with one another, know their own health data, and make health care better one e-Patient at a time.

This is one of Dave’s talks from TED. It’s inspiring, empowering and important. Please watch it, share a comment and pass it along.

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Though outside the health industry, this article by Gary Leopold of ISM which appears in MediaPost’s Marketing:travel – Playing With Partners: Some Rules of The Game – provides eight important considerations for creating successful co-brand partnerships.

These include:

• shared purpose and objectives
• shared strategies
• shared risk
• collaborate and support each other
• responsive to each other
• invest appropriate resources
• negotiate and work in good faith
• measure results and seek continuous improvement

Read the full article here. Any comments to share?

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Here’s a good example of two health brands collaborating to create new, and important, value for communities and patients.

Allina Hospitals & Clinics and Life Time Fitness are launching a new partnership to advance preventative health and wellness initiatives and awareness. It includes the introduction of Life Time’s myHealthCheck at Allina.

The collaboration will focus on several elements:

— Life Time plans to provide its comprehensive health and wellness assessment, and health promotion program, myHealthCheck, to Allina physicians, nurses and staff as a first step towards integrating health and wellness with health care

— Allina physicians are expected to be connected to Life Time destinations in Minnesota in order to provide medical education and counseling to Life Time members and staff, and medical services for Life Time endurance events

— The organizations plan to explore innovative opportunities to inject health and fitness expertise into traditional health care delivery

— Allina and Life Time will partner to provide integrated community health and wellness programs to the community with the goals of reducing overall health care costs and improving access to preventative health and wellness education and services

You can read more about the partnership here.

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As reported on India’s pharma portal Pharmabiz.com, Apollo Hospitals has signed on with deal-of-the-day website Groupon India to spread awareness of its medical services, beginning with its health check programmes.

The programmes will be offered over a specified period, at discounted prices, and can be redeemed at all Apollo-owned clinics and hospitals. According to its VP Marketing & Operations, “the social media outlet will assist both in spreading awareness as well as delivering healthcare solutions to our customer’s doorstep, thereby providing them an impetus to take their health more seriously. With Groupon India, we would add on more services including cosmetic surgery.”

Other modes of campaign like mobile & email marketing to subscribers are bundled along with Apollo’s brand presence on the website. Currently available only in Apollo Hospital Bangalore, the company will cascade this programme to its other branches nationwide, based on the initial customer response.

Is this a win-win for both consumers and providers? Do you see any downside?

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