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Branding the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
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Branding the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)


Case study of branding for a professional association

Case study of branding for a professional association

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  • Well, there are two answers to your question. First, AAHA is an acronym for American Animal Hospital Association (not the best in the world, but it is what it is). Second, from a branding perspective, the American Animal Hospital Association stands for Excellence, Highest Standards in animal case, Training, Teamwork, and Cutting Edge care (see slide 24). We'd like to talk with you about your branding needs. Drop me an email at david.geddes@geddesanalytics and we can select a time.
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  • What does AAHA stand for?
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  • A professional veterinary association formed in 1933 to regulate and promote high quality standards for small animal practices.Serves about 6,000 hospital members in the U.S. and Canada3,000 hospitals are AAHA-accredited - that’s only 15% of all veterinary practices in the U.S. and CanadaProduces publications, videos, client information and other services
  • Clinics provide the best in animal careTaking your pet to an accredited clinic means you are getting the very best in animal careClinics are up-to-date on the latest in medicine, education, and trainingVeterinarians and technicians at accredited clinics keep up on the latest practices in veterinary medicineAt AAHA-accredited clinics, all animal hospital or clinic staff have appropriate education and training for their job responsibilitiesClinics adhere to the highest standards, including:The latest standards, protocols, and procedures for all acts of veterinary medicineState-of-the art standards for sterile surgical conditionsThe latest standards of pain management during and after a pet’s surgeryAAHA sets and enforces standardsAAHA is the only organization that certifies veterinary clinics across the country to ensure they meet the highest standardsAAHA is the leader in setting and enforcing standards for quality in veterinary care


  • 1. AAHA/Branding and Communications Brand Platform and Rollout Chewing on the AAHA Brand
  • 2. PR planning process 1. Identify organizational objectives 2. Key stakeholders / publics / audiences 3. Stakeholder-specific goals 4. Research 5. Plan 6. Execute 7. Measure, evaluate, and revise
  • 3. The American Animal Hospital Association  Quality  Standards  Education  Practice management  Marketing  Meet public needs  Accreditation
  • 4. Situation analysis  Accreditation levels  Quality levels
  • 5. Stakeholder-specific objectives  Veterinarians  Awareness  Understanding  Relevance  Action  Pet owners  Awareness  Understanding  Preference
  • 6. Research Approach 1. Message lab workshop with AAHA staff 2. Focus groups  Accredited members: 2 groups at AAHA convention  Non-accredited members: 3 telephone groups  Veterinary students: 2 telephone groups 3. Veterinarian survey 4. Pet owner telephone survey  503 dog and cat owners who use a veterinarian
  • 8. What does AAHA stand for? Core brand 1. At the cutting edge of animal practice 2. Excellence in animal care 3. Setting high standards for animal hospital practice Other traits  Integrity  The elite  Best quality animal hospital practices  Elitist  Attitude of superiority
  • 9. “[AAHA is] trying to keep up on the cutting edge and doing things to keep [veterinarians] in the forefront of veterinary medicine.” (Non-acc 5/6) “I [am accredited] for personal pride, to know we are practicing medicine and operating a clinic at the highest standards.” (Acc.3/28) “The AAHA has higher standards than what the AVMA would be going for. It means more to have an AAHA hospital.” (Non-acc 5/7) “The primary objective of AAHA is to get every veterinarian to practice the highest level of medicine.” (Student 5/7) AAHA Brand Position: What does AAHA stand for?
  • 10. Accreditation: Benefits 1. Highest standards 2. Consistency and quality in animal care 3. Running a better practice 4. Better business operations 5. Teamwork 6. Shared staff goals 7. Pride
  • 11. Accreditation Feedback: Accredited veterinarians “For the practice owner, it was just to make sure we’re at the top — the best. If I owned my own practice, I would go through the accreditation process.” (Acc 3/29) “Consistency in care. It helped us design certain protocols for the hospital to teach the entire staff that this is the way it’s done.” (Acc 3/28)
  • 12. Accreditation Feedback: Accredited veterinarians “The average AAHA hospital does provide better care than the average non-AAHA hospital. They have protocols, guidelines, require ments … [Pet owners] don’t care about the clinical things. They care about getting better care for their pets. We need to tell [consumers].” (Acc 3/28) “We’re the only hospital in our area that is AAHA accredited. We are at a higher level. We know with the systems of checks, we won’t fall behind on anything. If there’s something we should be doing better, they let us know that.” (Acc 3/29)
  • 13. Accreditation: Negative perceptions  Not a guarantee of superior medical practice  Some accredited clinics slack off  Time and expense  Some standards ―above and beyond‖  Low pet owner awareness
  • 14. Accreditation: Vets and the pet owner  Low awareness  Not a competitive advantage  Does not bring in clients  Not in consumer consideration and evaluation criteria “An AAHA hospital may or may not be better, but at least you have the assurance that they’ve met the [highest] standards. You don’t have that assurance at any other hospital. No guarantees.” (Acc 3/28)“My motivation anyway for getting accredited is that I could have that logo on my door … If [people] see that they have that added confidence.” (Non-acc 5/7)
  • 16. Choosing a veterinarian Pet owners primarily select veterinarians based on: Vet relationship with the pets Vet concern about animal care Vet communication with the pet owner
  • 17. Pet owners and accreditation Before hearing benefits After hearing benefits Very important Extremely important  Low awareness (15%) BUT  High importance 53% 60%
  • 18. Consumer Insights: How many clinics are accredited?  Consumers have an overly optimistic view
  • 19. Consumer Insights: Key benefits of accreditation Based on survey test of messages: 1. The best in animal care 2. The latest in medicine, education, and training 3. Adherence to highest standards 4. AAHA sets and enforces standards
  • 21. Students Accredited Clinics Non-accredited Clinics Pet owners Campaign Audiences Breeders Shelters Realtors Friends and Neighbors
  • 22. Target Audiences Target What We Want Them to Think What We Want Them to Do Pet Owners Accreditation = Superior Quality Choose Accredited Clinics Accredited Clinics Accreditation = Advantages Renew and Promote Accreditation Veterinary Students Accreditation = Preferred Employer Seek Accredited Clinics Non-Accredited Clinics/ Non-Members Accreditation = Advantages Seek Accreditation Shelters/Breeders/ Relo Influencers/KOLs Accreditation = Superior Quality Promote Accredited Clinics
  • 23. AAHA Accreditation: Brand Architecture  AAHA’s accreditation brand must be:  Well-defined  Credible  Differentiated  The best, the first, or the only  Relevant  How can we motivate required actions?
  • 24. ATTRIBUTES For Vet Clinics Excellence Highest Standards Training Teamwork Cutting Edge ATTRIBUTES For Pet Owners Excellence Comfort Latest Practices Training Trust Benefit Statements As the only organization that accredits veterinary clinics in the U.S., the American Animal Hospital Association sets the standard for quality animal care. Since 1933, clinics that accept the challenge of accreditation are tested to meet 900 quality standards that encompass all aspects of animal care — ranging from patient care and pain management, to training and medical record keeping. AAHA standards are continuously updated to keep accredited clinics on the forefront of veterinary medicine and to adopt the most advanced business practices. Through accreditation, veterinarians gain assurance and pride that their clinics operate at the highest standards. Pet owners gain piece of mind, because they know their AAHA-accredited clinic is an elite facility — one that is committed to providing the very best in animal care for their beloved pets. Core Statement Accreditation through the American Animal Hospital Association is the only way to ensure that a veterinary clinic is operating at the highest standards of excellence in animal care. Veterinarians and pet owners know that pets at AAHA-accredited clinics receive the most advanced and most professional care. Accreditation: Brand Architecture
  • 25. Key Messages and Proof Points  AAHA sets the standard for animal care  AAHA is the only organization that accredits veterinary clinics in the U.S.  With 900 quality standards that encompass all aspects of animal care, AAHA Accreditation is the only way to ensure that a veterinary clinic is operating at the highest standards  AAHA standards are continuously updated to keep accredited clinics on the forefront of veterinary medicine and to adopt the most advanced business practices  Accredited clinics receive ongoing support from AAHA to remain at the forefront of their profession
  • 26.  Veterinarians know that accredited clinics provide the highest quality care and employ the most advanced clinical and business practices  INSERT CLINICAL PROOF POINT  Better business practices mean AAHA accredited clinics are typically the larger and more well-established clinics in their communities  2.9 FTE versus 1.9 – 4.6 support staff per FTE versus 4.0 – 28.2 years in business versus 20.9  Pet owners know that when they take their pets to an AAHA accredited clinic, they will receive the very best in animal care  8 out of 10 pet owners say AAHA accreditation is important and will be a factor the next time they select a veterinarian Key Messages and Proof Points
  • 27. Brand Personality Portrait Brand Association Reinforce Reposition To All Audiences Highest standards in animal care x Excellence x Best training/all staff x Veterinarian Only Expensive Worth the cost; new clients as result Time-consuming Worth the time; new clients as result Elitist The best; but all are welcome No higher quality than my standards Highest quality in the industry Peace of mind Cutting edge x Teamwork x Pet Owner Only Relates to all veterinary clinics Only the best are accredited Ensures comfort and pain management x Trust x
  • 29. Program Timeline 2010 2009 2011 Introduce Engage Entrench
  • 30. Veterinarians Old logo New logo and tagline
  • 31. Veterinarians  Build awareness of campaign
  • 32. Veterinarians  Vet-to-vet word of mouth  Vet and hospital testimonials  Accredited hospital open houses
  • 33. Veterinarians  Campaign blog  Marketing webinars, videos, podcasts  Branding consultants
  • 34. Veterinarians  Clinic Marketing  Accreditation logos, signage, advertising
  • 35. Veterinarians  Top 100 animal hospitals  Partnership with veterinary trade  Publish annual list  Criteria based on AAHA standards  Promotion through new media outreach
  • 36. Pet owners  Consumer Awareness  Animal Planet partnership
  • 37. Pet owners  Redesigned consumer-facing web site  Twitter
  • 38. Pet owners
  • 39. Pet owners  Partnerships  Real estate agents  U.S. Postal Service
  • 40. QUESTIONS?