The B.E.S.T. Insights

October 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

By Julie Ruel, Social Media Manager, Stanford Blood Center

The marketing group at SBC recently had the privilege of working with a group of students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business studying brands and user experiences. The class, called B.E.S.T. (brands, experiences, and social technology), was given the task of observing consumers in a natural setting, evaluating their findings, then offering insights intended to help tighten the gap between what consumers need to make for a positive experience with a company, organization, etc. and what that brand offers.

Because of the constant challenge in meeting the demand for blood products and, as class leader Emily Ma states, “the immense value Stanford Blood Center brings to the medical community”, they chose us as the brand to study. This is an elite group of students, many of whom will advance into roles as business leaders, and we were honored to be the subject of their assignment.

To kick things off, they asked some of our donors (representing the “consumers”) and staff the first five words that come to mind when they think of Stanford Blood Center. Here’s a word cloud highlighting the most commonly shared one-word descriptions:


Please, in the comments section below, share any words that come to mind for you.

For the rest of the assignment, some students became blood donors and others chatted with individuals before, during and after their blood donation. Then, leaving any of their own judgments behind, they used an empathetic approach to evaluating their experiences/findings and reported back with what they gathered to be the highs and lows of the donation process.

As you read through this, think about your own experiences as a blood donor. Can you relate? Here’s what they found:

The high points:

• Making the decision to give blood. Studies show that acts of kindness boost happiness levels!

• The greeting upon arrival and the sticker for first-timers. Wearing your “First Time Donor” sticker can initiate conversations and provide an opportunity to encourage others to give blood.

• Successful screening process. Anticipation of doing a good deed + time invested in driving to the Center = a relieved and happy donor when given the okay after the questionnaire and hemoglobin test.

• Snacks and conversation with fellow donors in canteen afterwards. The highlight for many is the sense of community they feel when talking to other donors. Have you ever spoken with the individual next to you at the table? With our diverse demographic of donors, I bet somebody has an interesting story to share!


There are also points along the way that many would just as soon skip if they could. For example, the medical history questionnaire doesn’t appear on most folks’ “favorite parts of the donation process” list. Here are a couple ideas that may be helpful:

• Before your visit, review the eligibility and deferral information on our website to see if travel history, medications, etc. may prevent you from donating on that day. For more specific questions, give us a call before dropping in. We appreciate all attempts to donate and we also want your time to be worthwhile.

• It may help to understand why we are required to ask each donor each question at each visit. Click here for more information on that.

Finally, as we could have predicted, it’s that needle prick that people report as the least glamorous part of the experience. Certain processes around blood donation change from time to time but this one is here to stay, I’m afraid. For many people, though, the anticipation is the worst part. And by that point, the cookies and P.O.G. are almost within reach. Just a brightly-wrapped-in-co-flex arm’s distance away.

Their findings are valuable to us as an organization that relies on volunteers in the community. We encourage your feedback as well. Please feel free to leave comments below. Creating a comfortable, enjoyable environment for our donors is something we take seriously and we strive to do that to the best of our abilities.