Opa, what do you do? I’m a patient activist. What’s an activist? An activist is someone who advocates for social change. What’s an advocate? An advocate is a champion. When I write, speak, and talk with people about health, I’m advocating. What’s social change? Social change is a better life for people. I think people – including you – have the right and the responsibility to be as healthy as they can be. I call this best health. I’m a champion for best health. Why do you call yourself Health Hats? I wear many different hats: I’m an Opa, a patient, a caregiver, a nurse, an informaticist, a leader. I wear lots of hats. You do like hats, don’t you?! Yes, I do. And it’s recognizable. When people hear Health Hats, they think of me. People often ask me, Why Health Hats? It’s a great conversation starter.
I’ve spent many years refining my elevator pitch to answer that question, first for my kids and now my grandkids, what do you do? I’ve gotten lots of help refining my pitch, especially from Tim Sullivan and Peter Tetrault, coaches extraordinaire, at Wellesley Partners. Five years ago, over breakfast at a hotel in Chicago (I think), Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of Health Populi fame encouraged me to start blogging and suggested the label, Health Hats. I’m inspired to promote, refine, and use my brand watching Dave deBronkart (ePatient Dave), Casey Quinlan (Mighty Casey), Regina Holliday (the Walking Gallery), Jane, and Melissa Reynolds FibroMomma. I meet people regularly who I don’t know who come up to me and say, you’re Health Hats. I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for years. Now I can get to know them. Danny McGinnis, Jr. created my logo in 30 minutes in the back seat of a car driving from DC to Grantsville, MD. I hadn’t thought about a logo. He did it and handed me his tablet across the seat. Voila. My logo is not my brand, but it helps to make it more recognizable.
I’m telling you this because many of you who read my blog are social change advocates. Some of you have recognizable brands, but most don’t. Mighty Casey puts it like this: “You 2.0” – How To Develop + Communicate Your Value in a Crowded Marketplace. It’s in my interest, in our interest for you to as effective in your advocacy as you can be. Good branding is very helpful, but not sufficient. To me, branding helps me clarify and prioritize the many things I could do with my limited energy. I could be a case manager, but I’m not. I could hawk products, but I don’t. I could be a policy advocate, but I’m not. I could focus on one disease or disease community. But I don’t. Branding and advocacy are about marketing – not necessarily selling a product, but selling service, ideas, opening doors to useful tables and gatherings. Creating, refining and using my brand has definitely opened unexpected doors for me. I’ve gotten seats at tables that valued my expertise. If I can’t communicate it in 30 seconds, I’ll never sit down with them.
I was asked last month by WEGO Health to help create a learning module for their Communiversity about Branding. This post contains my first thoughts. What should I include in a learning module about branding? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?