- Red Bull: It’s an energy drink – taurin, sugar, caffeine, bubbles. But the actual product is not the drink, that’s just the vehicle. What the company is really selling is the emotion you feel when you think about the brand. In Red Bull’s case, it’s a feeling of independence, fun, excitement, achievement, power and success.
- Nike: It’s not just rubber, fabric and shoe-laces. Nike is selling the just-do-it-feeling. You buy the shoes because when you use them on the running track, you feel better, faster, cooler. Do you really run faster than in your old shoes? Maybe. But it’s certainly not because of the type of rubber they are using – especially if you are just a hobby runner.
- Zappo’s: To stick with the shoe industry. Zappo’s is an online shoe retailer but what they actually sell is not shoes in a box, it’s happiness in a box. It’s the emotion that matters.
- Apple: Same story. It’s not about the keyboard, the screen, the processors, it’s not even about the software so much. It’s about how you feel when you use their products. We associate the brand with coolness, design and creativity. Duke University researchers found that a short exposure to the Apple logo actually increased creativity in study participants. That’s almost like what the placebo effect does.
What about you and the way you deliver your clinical practice? Are you delivering more than facts, lab values, prescriptions and evidence-based medicine? Are you delivering art? Bernard Lown MD of Harvard University, one of the most renowned cardiologists in the world wrote in his famous book “The Lost Art of Healing” that “words are the most powerful placebos”. If the way you deliver medicine is more than the sum of the skills you learned in medical school, the mere encounter with you will become part of the healing process.