If you have a business, you have a brand. But the brand you have may not be the brand you want.
For a variety of reasons, senior living community brands sometimes fail to meet the expectations of management, staff, residents and their loved ones, board members, and citizens from the local area.
Perhaps the community has changed for the better and the brand simply doesn’t reflect the new and improved qualities. Or the community may have faltered at some point, leaving the brand suffering negative perceptions for years afterward.
Whatever the reason, community brand aspirations can and do change.
Where Is Your Brand Now?
The first step in making your brand aspiration a reality is assessing where your community — and its reputation — stand now. To get an idea of your current brand status, consider the characteristics that define your organization.
What do your residents and staff members think of the community? Think about the perceptions prospective residents have about the community when they come in for a tour. What have they heard about the food, decor, health care and staff? Is the brand solid and positive, or is there room for improvement?
Where Do You Want to Go?
Where would you like your brand to be in five years? Your brand aspiration can include a variety of goals that are unique to your community, residents, prospects and local area.
Perhaps you’d like the characteristics that define your brand to be more inclusive. You’re your organizational leaders first crafted the brand, did they get input from all the audiences with a stake in the community?
If residents, board members and others have feelings about the community that are not being expressed through the branding elements, your brand aspiration may include broadening the voice. Additionally, if your brand has been created by committee and you believe it’s too watered-down, it may be time to reassess and refocus.
Take an objective look at the most compelling traits of your community — whether it’s the experience of your staff, the beauty of your campus, your delectable dining, or a stellar wellness program — and pare down your messaging to highlight what best defines you.
Expanding Your Brand
Another reason that your brand aspiration may not connect with your current brand reality is expansion of your company. Maybe your brand was created at a time that your organization owned only one community but has now expanded to several. Perhaps your organization has created additional lines of business, such as offering services at home for seniors outside your community.
If your organization has expanded in some way that your current brand does not reflect, consider the audiences that you now serve. How can you change or expand your brand messaging to speak directly to those people as well? Your marketing agency can work with you to adapt your brand as needed, including logo redesign and developing a sub-branding system for organizations with multiple lines of business.
Correcting Your Brand
In some cases, senior living community brands have flaws that need correcting. If you feel that a problem or challenge with your brand is holding your community back, consider making a change.
The flaw may be one that’s relatively easy to fix, such as an odd spelling or usage in a community name. Some names simply don’t resonate with the public, are difficult to remember, or don’t lend themselves to modern digital applications.
Your name, logo or other brand elements may be too close for comfort to a competitor in the same industry or even a company that’s in another industry but causes confusion.
If your senior living organization has not yet expanded but plans to in the future, consider whether your name and brand elements will work when the company offers additional services.
Bringing Your Brand Aspiration to Fruition
Regardless of your brand aspiration — and how you adjust your brand to make your hope a reality — consistency will be key. Brands are effective only to the extent that they’re used well. Your brand should offer the same messaging and impact regardless of application or audience, and it should clearly differentiate you from the competition.
As you adjust and grow your brand to meet your goals, remember that you’ll need to monitor it carefully to ensure consistency across all your marketing channels — and to get the most impact for your marketing dollars.