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Prince: The ultimate brand experience

BY Dan Mack

The Idea: Could Prince have been the greatest artist (and brand experience) of the generation?  His sudden passing has disrupted the music industry and the broader creative culture.  Whether one appreciated his music or didn’t, his talent was magnetic.  You could not ignore his ability and desire to seek truths; you could not ignore his ability to tell a story; you could not ignore his authenticity.  And that is something that everyone could learn from.

He was the ultimate brand experience.
Prince birthed his own recording studio and label, and he played 27 instruments while self-producing much of his music. He was a curator, influencer of new talent, and owner of his entire creative process – start to finish. Even his Paisley Park Studio home was an artistic ecosystem and center for creative excellence.
Prince produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. He penned his first song at age seven, and has written thousands of songs that have never seen the light of day.  He was constantly in a state of creativity, challenging himself most of his career to write “a song a day.”

He was inspired to create something new each day.
His legacy was built on landmark LPs such as Around the World in a Day, Sign O' The Times, Diamond & Pearls, Parade, Graffiti Bridge, 1999 and of course Purple Rain.   Prince was the “creative’s creative” designing four different experimental back-up bands over thirty-five years, blending jazz, funk, hip hop, soul and rock n roll, into a musical style that was always reaching for more.

His craft can’t be ignored. And his approach is worth understanding.

  1. Vision –  He wrote, composed and produced his own music.  At the age of nineteen, he and his band mates performed on American Bandstand (AB) where he very shyly admitted to Dick Clark that he turned down record deals at the age of fifteen because they would not let him produce his own work. His vision was consistent and strong.
  2. Creativity – People from all walks of life have yearned to imitate his stage presence.  He was absolutely never afraid to be sultry and bend “gender norms”. His work was disruptive, provocative, idealistic and inspirational.  Who Prince was as a performer led him to sell more than 100 million records, receive seven Grammy’s and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  No one was better at protecting the brand.  
  3. Originality – Today, the buzz word is “authenticity.”  Prince was no stranger to this!   Very early on, he was not afraid to show off his style and fashion sense.  With “Egyptian-style eyeliner,” high heels, lace gloves & various styles of clothing – he was an original, and he couldn’t be copied.
  4. Ideals – Symbolic of his ideals, Prince once turned down a deal to put his songs on “Guitar Hero” because he thought it was much more important for kids to “really” learn to play the guitar.  That was more important to him than money. And he always made these tough decisions.

Few artists have influenced all types of music, other artists and the broader culture as much as Prince had when he passed.  One of the most gifted artists of the era.  And he never overstayed his welcome. Here was his final lesson. 

You are the brand experience.  Always leave people wanting more!

Dan Mack is the managing director of Elevation Forum, and author of the book “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.” For more insights, visitmackelevationforum.com

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Access to care provision part of CMS’ Medicaid managed care final rule

BY Michael Johnsen
ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Wednesday praised the Center for Medicare & Medicaid’s inclusion of network adequacy standards — which would improve patient access to care in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program — in the Medicaid and CHIP Managed Care final rule the agency released on April 21.
 
“CMS’ decision to include a provision that ensures patients have access to pharmacy services is consistent with NACDS’ position on ensuring patients have continued access to care, which leads to better overall health outcomes and reduced costs,” stated Steven Anderson, NACDS president and CEO. “NACDS remains committed to working with CMS as it strives to advance and improve the healthcare system.”
 
The final rule marks the first major overhaul of the Medicaid and CHIP programs in more than a decade, and seeks to align key rules with other healthcare coverage programs. In order to strengthen access to care, the final rule requires states to establish network adequacy standards in Medicaid and CHIP managed care for key providers — including pharmacy — if their services are covered under the Medicaid contract, and the pharmacy network is consistent with the access standards for delivery networks.
 
NACDS has consistently advocated for network adequacy standards that promote access based on patients’ needs, availability of care and providers and utilization of services. In response to a request from CMS, NACDS submitted comments in 2015 recommending that “the final rule should include a framework that will serve as a tool to ensure that plans maintain beneficiary access to their current providers.” 
 
In addition to establishing a framework, NACDS said it hoped to help CMS “create standards that will serve to maintain the strong link between Medicaid patients and community pharmacies and the valuable services that these pharmacies provide.”
 
Of note, the effective date of the rule is July 6, 2016, however the section specific to access to care is effective July 1, 2018. The final rule indicates that plans will not be held out of compliance with this requirement until July 1, 2018.
 
 
 
 
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Cardinal Health posts 22% increase in Q3 revenue to $30.7 billion

BY Michael Johnsen
DUBLIN, Ohio – Cardinal Health on Thursday reported a 21% increase in revenue to $30.7 billion for its third quarter for the fiscal year 2016.
 
"We had a strong financial and operational performance in our fiscal third quarter. At the same time, we continued to enhance and grow enterprise-wide service and product lines, which are important to our customers and address some of health care's most difficult challenges," stated George Barrett, chairman and CEO Cardinal Health. "We delivered double-digit growth in revenue and profit in both our Pharmaceutical and Medical reporting segments and had very solid performance across our lines of business."
 
Third-quarter revenue for the Pharmaceutical segment increased 22% to $27.5 billion due to growth from new and existing customers as well as acquisitions. Third-quarter revenue for the Medical segment increased 13% to $3.1 billion due to the net contribution from acquisitions as well as solid growth from existing businesses.
 
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