Six things that make great healthcare branding strategies successful

As a healthcare marketer, you long to be top-of-mind when someone is looking for a new provider. You strive to get these patients in the door and harness decades-long loyalty.

You know that cultivating a healthcare branding strategy will help you stand out in the marketplace, attract new patients, and top-notch physicians. But when you receive requests for a slew of tactical materials, the importance of branding gets lost in the noise.

Do the following, and you will be well on your way to crafting a more strategic brand for your healthcare organization.

1. Do your research

Before launching a complete brand overhaul, you must conduct thorough research. To use a healthcare analogy — must treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Only after gathering qualitative and quantitative data can you progress to pinpointing your brand strategy.

When Samaritan Health Services selected Madison Ave. Collective for a regional public health awareness initiative, we analyzed comparable campaigns, interviewed their leaders, and talked to doctors, patients, and health administrators.

This information directed every decision to bring the PainWise initiative to fruition. We’ll take a closer look later on.

2. Brand positioning: Think you’re a leader? Think again.

A quick scroll through the positioning statements of the top hospitals in the U.S. reveals the majority claim to be “leaders” and “cutting-edge.”

If your organization is also claiming to be a leader, you’re not alone — and that’s the problem.

We get it. Your positioning statement likely evolved in a committee comprised of your marketing team and hospital’s leading physicians. They want to be innovative leaders, and that’s what made the cut.

To truly differentiate, you need to think long and hard about how you can distinguish yourself in the healthcare industry.

By looking at the overlap of your services and attributes, your competitor’s offerings, and market needs, you will distill your brand position.

From this, a consistent, strong message that resonates with internal and external audiences will evolve.

For instance, maybe you’re the only provider for a certain demographic in a specific region. This powerful claim, matched with aligned services, will communicate a beneficial difference to the patients you want to reach.

3. Brand experience: Consistency is key

A key part of your healthcare branding strategy is to ensure your values are communicated through every single touchpoint.

If you claim to value patients, but keep them on hold for 10 minutes on the phone, guess what — you’re killing your brand.

The phrase “patient experience” has been floating around the healthcare industry for a few years, but there is still room to grow.

A recent Forbes article warned that start-ups, such as Circle Medical Group of California, are quickly filling in the gap where long-standing providers are falling short.

By improving your organization’s online experience with a user-friendly website, patient portals, and online scheduling, you can start to bring your desired brand experience in-line with reality.

4. Brand story: Bringing your brand to life

Your brand story isn’t about you. It’s about how you relate to the patients you serve.

You may be impressed with a staff physician’s research, but that isn’t tangible to a future patient. What is tangible is how that research was applied to help cure a patient’s disease.

For example, research is a significant focus of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but it isn’t the focus of its brand stories. Instead, the children who benefit get the spotlight. Web content focused on children and their stories brings St. Jude’s brand promise to life.

5. Brand identity: All of the pretty things

A brand identity is comprised of the messaging (tone, word choice) and visual elements (logo, colors, font) that consistently represent your organization.

To be successful, it must be rooted in research and tightly aligned with your brand position.

For PainWise, we distilled a core message of hope for those who are overcoming opioid addiction.

To represent this visually, we selected photography that communicates hope, chose shades of blue to express trustworthiness and cheerfulness, and added texture to acknowledge the pain experienced by patients.

6. Brand activation: Walk the talk

An often overlooked but essential element of a successful brand strategy is the collaboration of your internal stakeholders. Your physicians, receptionists, and other team members are the real-life expression of your brand. They must understand and support your brand so they can share it authentically.

One way to activate your external audience is through a marketing campaign, such as a brand ambassador program.

For example, the Mayo Clinic invites past and current patients to be a “Mayo Clinic Champion.” Champions (aka brand ambassadors) are encouraged to share their story and advocate for other patients.

Once you have these six areas dialed in, you’ll be on your way to having a solid brand strategy. Developing a brand strategy for your healthcare organization provides you with standard operating procedures (no pun intended!), so the next time your physicians ask for a new logo iteration, you’ll be armed with an informed guide to make the best decision for your brand.

You’ll also be able to protect your brand value, stand out from the competition, and recruit new patients.

This article is also published on Medium.

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