Healthcare branding: the path to sustained relevance

Healthcare branding: the path to sustained relevance

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-10-59-43-amThere’s an undeniable shift in the world for healthcare marketers that creates both big stakes and huge urgency. It’s the imperative to improve value for patients. It’s a change that will create big winners and big losers and a change which requires healthcare marketers to improve their healthcare branding to ensure their sustained relevance.

In their New England Journal of Medicine article, Michael E. Porter, Ph.D., and Thomas H. Lee, M.D., define value as the health outcomes achieved for patients relative to the costs of achieving them. They go on to say that it is the only goal that can guide strategy in health care, the only “true north” that can resolve the difficult choices organizations will need to make. Providers that organize themselves to improve outcomes and become more efficient in doing so will be rewarded with patients, professional satisfaction, and financial success. They will prosper even if fee for service reimbursement lingers for years, because better outcomes will attract more patients and greater efficiency will reduce copayments and improve financial margins. Those that fail to focus on value lack the essential foundation for strategy. Whatever their reputation is today, they will become increasingly nonviable and irrelevant.

Layer on top of this the many other pressure points that are impacting the traditional healthcare landscape – new [more consumer-oriented] non-traditional retail and technology competitors, our increasingly proactive ownership of our health and wellness, “digital/mobile consumers” vs. consumers who use digital and mobile, among others. The upshot is that those who fail to capitalize on opportunities to transform their business models (leading with the drive to value) may be left behind. But transforming business models also means transforming brand as the face of an organization’s business strategy. With “brand” (i.e. reputation) being the number one reason in selection of one’s health care.

Given the above, healthcare senior leaders and marketers must step back and ask, what is our brand. Because ensuring your brand is performing up to its full potential (strategically, internally and externally, across the entire patient journey) is the only way to ensure sustained relevance.  Essential questions for health care organizations to ask (based on the overarching goal of delivering value for patients) include:

  • What is our fundamental goal?
  • Is our brand in alignment?
  • What business are we in?
  • Does our brand have a unique value proposition?
  • Based on above, are we best meeting the needs of our customers across their entire journey?
  • Are we aligned and equipped internally to best meet these needs?
  • Which of our brands deliver the strongest strategic and financial value for the organization; now and into the future?
  • Three years from now – what might our delivery system look like? what synergies and partnerships might we create? what other products and services might our brand umbrella?
  • Are we delivering maximum customer value and competitive advantage through our brand engagements? Do our actions speak louder than our words.


There will be winners and losers in the health care revolution. The winners will ride a wave of momentum by delivering greater value. The losers will gradually fade or become a shell of their former self. Where is the strategic direction of your brand taking you?

Interested in learning how your brand can help your organization in its quest to deliver patient value? Email or call Rick Zaniboni to set up a free consultation at 978-994-8009.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment as an opportunity to move customers, brands and businesses upward to a new destination.