Mr. Müller, what makes a strong brand stand out for you?
Two things are important to me: brands must be credible and have their own personality. Good brands build trust with their users – in our case with readers – with consistently high quality and presence. And: Many successful brands have a story that they carry with them as a responsibility.
A high level of responsibility, because brands thrive on consistency.
You have your positioning, you have your content – but the brand is a reflection of your inner values. Consistency ensures recognition. In order not to unsettle the customer, you have to be careful when making changes. If the brand is strong enough, you can make it last a long time. Personally, I don't believe in constantly working on a brand.
How do you rate the relaunch of your magazine KU Gesundheitsmanagement from today's perspective?
The adjustments to KU Health Management were now around 15 years ago. When I want to motivate my employees, I show them a cover of the magazine as it used to be. The design was a child of the time, so it wasn't bad at all back then. By today's standards, however, the title is a bit too full and the insides are even a bit desolate. As a first step, we clearly identified the KU brand, made it recognizable and easy to read. The wave brand element, which was still in use at that time, was reduced to a fine blue line, which once again underlines the clarity of the two letters KU. This clarity was the big hit for me back then.
KU stands for “Krankenhaus Umschau”. The term used to stand next to the two capital letters – and the descriptive addition “Fachmagazin für Führungskräfte der Gesundheitswirtschaft” was added.
Exactly, and we did not relaunch the “Krankenhaus Umschau”. It was a bold decision back then, but one that I would make again and again – also when it came to layout and typography. By integrating the “health management” addition, we wanted to expand the classic KU target group – people with management responsibilities in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics and care facilities – to include managers in the entire health management sector. Unfortunately, we did not achieve this as planned. Our specialist title is aimed at the management of hospital and rehabilitation clinics.
Many readers find it difficult to park
The expansion of our brand to include books, events for coding professionals and the online portal – all with identical branding – has also contributed to our continued strong position. By the way, there are still many younger hospital managers today who say “hospital survey” as a matter of course. But the word hasn't even been on the title for 15 years. You can see how difficult it is to repark.
To what extent does KU's outer dress reflect its inner values?
Managers are the core target group of the print product. This is where seriousness, credibility and trust count. That is why we are rather conservative here, but in terms of content, we are always state of the art, practical and on equal footing. A magazine for other topics would certainly come across differently – fresher, looser, more colorful. Of course, the KU also has illustrations, but the magazine has a rather strict structure. This strictness is also reflected in the brand: clinic management is serious business.
You are an advocate of careful further development of a brand. Nevertheless, is there a right time to take the big step, i.e. to completely rethink?
When the time is right. Take the example of the corporate brand MGO. The relaunch was a sensible, good step. The new logo is easier to communicate and also to market. When it comes to product brands, the following applies to me: If we take over a strong title today, but it goes down in the market, then there is something wrong with the brand. I would then make an edit and use the brand but redesign it.
Today, KU has a very tidy title, the brand breathes and radiates. The cover photo is always blank and therefore appears floating light. In order to focus, the teasers for the topics in the issue have also been reduced to two; the interior design is contemporary. Everything is clearer and it's more fun to read KU.
The positive impression of the title continues as you turn the page. The infographics and illustrations, the editorial, the table of contents – everything invites you to further explore the issue. We know that managers don't have much time. We have therefore decided that the articles should only be about three pages long on average. This reduction to the essentials counts.
What is the importance of a sparring partner such as Bergwerk in such processes?
Bergwerk taught us years ago how important the right amount of change and consistency is. Despite all the systematics and analyses of whether a brand needs to be renovated or completely rebuilt, there is always both instinct and reason in brand processes. When I see various suggestions from the supervising agency, I quickly know in which direction it could go. That is why brand work is a top priority. It cannot be delegated, because then you have different directions that also look different.
The reduction to the essentials counts. <span class="quote-author">Bernd Müller, managing director of specialist publishers of Mediengruppe Oberfranken</span> in Kulmbach
The umbrella brand as a constituent factor
There is a brand image that then runs through the entire brand presence. That is why I also attach great importance to the fact that subsidiaries do not stray too much from the specified brand guidelines. A strong umbrella brand is a constituent factor.
How did you experience working with Bergwerk?
At the agency Bergwerk, we liked the fact that they recognized the task well. Personally, I also find the implementation very professional; the work has a good design signature. We have been working together on analog and digital brand work for over 15 years, and the quality remains high over the entire period. We've grown together and together.
You have many good designers at the publishing house – yet your brand work is based on an external perspective. Why?
Of course, our media designers said “we can do that ourselves”. However, I am of the opinion that you need outside professionals for the basic things. In recent years, Bergwerk has developed many brands for us that remain virtually unchanged to this day. This gives us a framework on which we can orient ourselves for further developments. This approach and investment pay off in the long term. If we hadn't done it, we wouldn't be as successful as we are today.
As an agency, we see our task as creating the foundations and then enabling our customers to work with these tools. This empowerment includes training, but also the opportunity to get to know our way of thinking – the philosophy behind our work. The design process itself takes place in close coordination with the customer's responsible employees so as not to lose sight of what is feasible.
Yes, this division of labor is correct. We know our markets best and adapt the guidelines provided by the agency to the new requirements. And after a certain period of time, new ideas are needed that provide new impetus.
This text was translated automatically.
- Headquarters: Kulmbach
- Number of employees: 96
- Investment volume managed: EUR 14 million*