There are many businesses and groups who, by using simple phrases and even sounds, can evoke a sense of what they do completely. Whole business strategies and campaigns are encapsulated in jingles and snippets of descriptions, so how do we get to that stage at HDR UK?

I recently came across this dilemma when I was out collecting photographs of the general public for our annual review document. When approaching members of the public, I found myself describing what Health Data Research UK does, as just that. We are lucky enough to be at the forefront of what our Director Andrew Morris calls the “fourth industrial revolution” and this means that there is a huge opportunity to help to shape how that is seen both within our own industry and by the public who’s lives we are hoping to benefit. So many patients and members of the public have had exposure to the work we are doing because they have experienced how their GP practice or local hospital works and have seen the way in which data can be used to improve their own health. I was expecting to have to engage in debate with the healthy people I met on our shoot with regards to the safe use of data, anonymisation, deidentification and commercialisation and yes, I did have to explain these to some, but I was struck by the way in which people were willing to listen and sign away their photographs to be used and associated with our brand.

Having studied Classical Studies at university, I am, in some ways, in a privileged position insofar as I knew very little about the world of health, data and research when I started at HDR UK over a year ago in our small team of four. I have seen first-hand the way in which our name and brand have developed, alongside our One Institute strategy for the coming year, and  the development of our Public Advisory Board as a pragmatic and necessary step in assessing and adapting to the fluctuating opinions of the public and patients when it comes to data access.

Jingles and catch-phrases are mostly used for selling and attracting customers, the most famous of which being McDonalds’ ‘5-note sting’. Finding a way to market and communicate your brand to appeal to many different groups and communities can be tough – to one person McDonalds is the easy way to feed your family cheaply and to others it’s a treat for a long car journey. When I was speaking to people and explaining who we are and what we do, I found myself at ease listing the positive work that Health Data Research UK does around the country. To a researcher, we’ll be providing access to more datasets for research and innovation, to a patient, we are ensuring the safe use of data and to the general healthy public, we are reassurance that the future provides hope that data can drive research into diseases, which may mean improvements to people’s lives who already have these diseases or those who may develop them in the future.

Because we are a new organisation, we still have a way to go to establish ourselves outside of our immediate community, but we are getting there. Our Public Advisory Board has done amazing work representing us at events and engaging in healthy debate on our behalf as well as making sure they not only represent us to the public, but also the public to us.

Brand recognition is an important part of the development of a new company or business and public perception will grow and change as we move forwards.

I was so impressed with the public’s response to HDR UK, and although we may not have our own ‘5-note sting’ like McDonalds, I hope it goes some way to getting people talking and thinking about health data and saying how much they’re ‘lovin’ it’.