Author is not an alien

Author is not an alien
I write because we had deleted enough

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How the Bihar health sector adopted a strategic Social Brand campaign - Part 1

 I stopped by a small tea shop in Muzaffarpur and nearby is an Anganwadi centre       with   wall paintings of government  schemes for maternal and child health displaying the logo of “Swasthya Bihar, Samridhha Bihar.” Be it in the heart of bustling golambar  chowk of Patna, the rusty lanes of Motihari; a Primary health centre at the far end of  Raxaul or a small village curled up in a corner of Supaul, everywhere Health services,  health policies are seen with a ubiquitous tag line “Swasthya Bihar, Samridhha Bihar”  along with a colorful logo.

 It’s interesting to observe that the state of Bihar which was once considered under the “BIMARU” states and was creeping on the path of development especially the health  sector developed a  powerful social brand worth enough to be emulated by others.
 Here goes the story in the words of the communication team  of State RMNCH+A Unit, Bihar which was instrumental in  getting  the wheels of social branding started with the  support of State  Health Society, Bihar

 “With multiple push from the development partners the  health  service delivery was improving in Bihar. And we  could see the  thirst for high visibility for the improved    service delivery in the  GoB", said Dr Hemant Shah,Director,  SRU

 “We knew what the TSU (technical Support Unit) had to do. We    knew if we need to stay in the state and do our work to bring  change and strengthen the systems, we had to help the government  to give shape to their aspiration. We visualized it in the form of a  Social campaign brand.... and as we work in the field of health – I  thought, let that one social campaign brand be the ‘Health  Initiatives campaign’ in Bihar to start with.” Said Victor Kalyan  Ghoshe ( Senior Advisor, Communication, SRU), he continued,  “and we figured it was all about ‘a new Bihar- which was  developing’, But as mentioned the core of our idea was different –  we still believed through a hidden layer below the Brand promise   if we could shape demands of the communities of Bihar; we would  actually be able to create a dynamics to ‘drive the market’ and  maintain the ‘service delivery’ in a way that will help the future  prosperity of Bihar to sustain (lower Maternal Mortality Ratio  & Infant Mortality Rate, higher rate of Routine Immunization,  effective Family Planning etc.). In a word we wanted to create a  social dynamics through a strategic brand campaign – where  the service delivery is community demand driven.

 We went back to the GOB with a series of Brand campaign names.   The list had:
1.         Swasthya Bihar, Pragatishil Bihar
2.         Swasthya Bihar, Unnatishil Bihar
3.         Swasthya Bihar, Samriddh Bihar

 Slogans which almost had the same meaning – but there was only  one which phonetically had the right zing as it was coined with a  key word with two syllable phrase, viz-a-viz the others which had  four syllables. We knew the third campaign name option was  destined to be the winner.

 We were right – but we didn’t know that within a few days this    idea will be all over Bihar....making its mark on all the leading  news papers, on all the stationeries of concerned government  agency (State Health Society, Bihar), Radio and television. And within a couple of months-the state government would start using  the brand for departments other than the department of Health as  well.
 After a few rounds of Chai and Charcha, the name was finalised and the work for identity (Logo) development took over.

  The most twisted turn in story comes here
  As we worked on developing the brand we started believing this identity should create an added value for not only the GOB, but also for each and every decision making bureaucrat in the  government so that the instruments of the government own it and  eventually turn it into a sustainable campaign brand without any  external support.

 The road map with milestones that we had developed  initially for  this brand development journey, after reaching at the Ideation milestone we decided not to get into the Prototype development  and testing – we should let the State Health Society-IEC division do the job.Which was a milestone decision and which never had  happened in India with any development project (as we have seen -a logo design for a project or a program, is always the first thing  that development partners do for a development program as a  practice).

 SHSB IEC cell finally developed the Swasthya Bihar, Samriddh  Bihar identity with no help from the State RMNCH+A Unit or  from any of the development partners. They added a map of Bihar  along with the mentioned family of four – the end beneficiary – to  develop a face to the first strategic Social Brand campaign from  the GoB.

 This brand eventually became so strong within six months of its  first dissemination that the Govt revamped and reprinted all its  stationary including the SHSB letterheads, envelops and Cover files (which is the highest visibility document in the Indian  Bureaucracy

 The story does not end here, after this successful example of an  interactive social brand development in health sector, many sub- brands were developed following a larger strategy for the GOB and that part of the story too is very interesting….

 To be continued…


  1. Dear Dr Pooja, thanks for writing this nice piece which surely identifies the good work and documents it in its true spirit. Let me say that at the outset, we are overwhelmed by the response we have received; in some sense it is a humbling experience in terms of the kind of mass media advertisement carried this social campaign brand in the last one year. Once again I thank you for writing about Swasthya Bihar, Samriddh Bihar.

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