July 01, 2005

Branding the Mental Health Industry

Marketing Expert: Branding May Mean Better Business for Mental Health Industry

Currently, the mental health industry "is pursuing the benefits associated with branding." It seems that both public funding cuts and the aging population of baby boomers are reasons behind the mental health industry's decision. Unfortunately, branding, an advertising technique that should help the mental health industry become more public, might be difficult for the industry. Because the mental health industry represents psychiatric disabilities such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. there maybe some stigma associated with it:

"The stigma traditionally associated with mental illnesses - such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia - and other behavioral issues make developing a brand more of a challenge," says Jay Wang, an assistant professor of marketing communication (Purdue University). "Stigmas also can keep people from seeking the services they need, and that is why a brand can help consumers realize how they can benefit from this area of the health-care industry."
Branding is part of the marketing plan a business uses to establish a relationship with consumers by differentiating itself from competitors while building loyalty and comfort with the company's services or products, Wang says. General health-care services and pharmaceutical companies have embraced branding. The mental health industry, especially community mental health service providers, is looking more closely at branding because of potential new clients among aging baby boomers and funding pressure brought about by reduced federal and state funding.

Experts say that an example of branding is a possible change in name. For example, if the mental health industry stopped using the word "mental" and instead used the word "behavioral", perhaps there wouldn't be such a negative connotation associated with the industry. However, the term "behavioral" is not much better (as compared to "mental") at describing the wide range of disorders encompassed within the mental health industry. Further, branding might take away from the severity of disorders experienced by many people by encouraging the public to think that they are commonplace and as a result, easy to manage. In addition both terms "mental health" and "behavioral" seem unfit, and using more appropriate terminology would probably reduce stigma as well as more aptly describe a wide range of disorders.

Full Story:


Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required