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How to maintain the uniqueness of a brand when it functions as a cooperative and covers almost the entire Brazilian territory?

*Aline Cebalos

The current scenario of communication can be compared to cooperativism. At least it shares one of the main premises of this philosophy and business model: everyone can build and capitalize on their dividends. Everyone can generate information and news and feel themselves to be spokespersons for a certain subject. If, on the one hand, we see these new gadgets, applications, and platforms as endless facilities, on the other we feel uncertain when acting.

How to act in a changing world? How do you communicate when the person who generates and who receives the information is not clear about how they should and prefer to do it? There are many issues that evolution brings us. Nevertheless, we must never, ever, forget our cause. When we are clear about the purpose of communication, the paths become clearer than before.

In my case, as manager of Communication and Marketing of Unimed do Brasil, an entity that represents Unimed administratively – the largest cooperative healthcare system in the world –, the picture is not simpler; in fact, in many cases, it is even more complex. Present in 84% of the Brazilian territory, the Unimed System currently has 345 distinct cooperatives, called Singulares.

Following cooperative guidelines, each Unimed has its autonomous management, that is, Unimed do Brasil, representative of the System can issue guidelines to Singulares, although never to impose anything. And here comes the question: how to maintain the uniqueness of a brand with so many nuances and peculiarities? How to converge, share, and standardize? With the purpose. The cause. As Unimed System, we have a very clear goal and it is this issue that makes all the difference. We are supported by initiatives that give advice on the use of the brand and the adoption of good communication practices.

As a feature of our cooperative system, the focus should also be on the integration and availability of content generated by Singulares. One of the examples of this integration is the “Em Pauta” platform, a digital hub created for Unimeds to offer their content and also access national and regional press information.

We also hold the Unimed Communication and Marketing Award, which includes all the cooperatives of the System, recognizing good practices, and sharing them among Singulares.

The results are perceived when we compare the data obtained in the last two mappings of the Communication that we made with Singulares, in 2015 and 2018. They show growth in fundamental points, such as the utilization index of the National Communication Directive, which last year was 97% against 90.1% three years ago. To work with Communication and Marketing of a System as huge as Unimed’s is a tremendous challenge, full of potential obstacles, but also good opportunities.

 

*Aline Cebalos is a journalist from the Universidade Metodista de São Paulo. She worked in the marketing of companies such as Le Postiche and as a reporter in Caras magazine. She has been working at Unimed do Brasil since 2013 and is currently the Communications and Marketing Manager of the cooperative, where she leads the area responsible for producing and disseminating guidelines and projects to align communications throughout the Unimed System.