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Brand purpose drives Kaiser Permanente

News, 12 January 2016

MIAMI, FL: Kaiser Permanente, the healthcare group, has successfully shown how tapping into a brand's core purpose can provide a powerful driver for differentiated marketing communications.

Christine Paige, the company's SVP/Marketing and Digital Services, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference.

"The lens and strategy of purpose is the powerful lens that we use to define our business, to make moral choices about what we will and what we won't do," she said. (For more, including further details of the brand's purpose-driven strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Kaiser Permanente talks "health" not "healthcare".)

In fact, Kaiser Permanente can trace this mission back to its launch more than 70 years ago, at a time when healthcare provision was limited and narrowly defined – something the organisation's founders hoped to change.

"And they changed it based on the very core belief that everyone should have access to quality healthcare … not as a privilege, but as a right," Paige said.

"That's actually been the driving thought that underlines our business to this day. And when you have a mission like that, it's not really hard to do the marketing."

And for Kaiser Permanente, the term "access" has a far wider scope than just visiting a doctor: rather, it is a proactive approach that embraces considerations like "good food in your community and safety for your children", Paige said.

"Not every one of our communities has that today, so it's a very, very big idea, this democratisation of healthcare – or 'total health for all'," she added.

That means the firm's long-running "Thrive" campaign typically avoids the tropes of healthcare marketing – say, doctors in white coats – in favour of more holistic considerations.

And such principles, said Paige, let the brand "talk about the things that were our philosophy all along but we had never discussed: the notion of focusing on total health – everything you do to empower you to live the life you want to live.

"Most organisations were founded by someone's passion to create something; to bring something into the world. It is very, very powerful when you talk about that."

Data sourced from Warc