The danger of “brand-less” healthcare marketing strategy

What’s the danger of healthcare marketing strategy not being guided by brand strategy? Brand-less healthcare marketing that gets lost in a sea of similar looking and sounding advertising, public relations and social media.

Defining, investing in and better leveraging your brand is a strategic imperative for health systems. Given the changing healthcare landscape – new models, new competitors, new competitive partnerships, blurred lines of payers and providers, new game-changing technologies, the changing view of patients as “consumers” – brand-led healthcare marketing strategy is the only way to distinguish your organization, drive perceptions and meaningfully engage your internal and external audiences.

Brand-led Healthcare Marketing Strategy

How to distinguish brand-led healthcare marketing strategy from other healthcare marketing? Here are five tell-tale signs.

1. A growing percentage of brand investment is dedicated to brand experience rather than brand image. Given cross-category consumer expectations, leading healthcare organizations are taking their cue from other industries and focusing on understanding and rethinking the patient experience. Stepping back, this means taking the time to first analyze and figure out the steps you can take (and take out) to improve the patient journey and their overall experience with your brand.

2. Physician engagement is evident. Given that physicians make roughly 80% of the decisions on care that take place and, therefore, control 80% of the spend – winning them over is important to your bottom line. But winning them over to what? Your brand is the only answer. Which means unearthing the idea that differentiates your brand from competing organizations and then building physician marketing campaigns as well as leveraging physicians as allies and marketing partners as an outgrowth of brand strategy.

3. The organization’s digital handshake reflects brand promises. Technology and tools are available to all. But more valuable are technology and tools customized around a brand idea and that help to distinguish and create a more consumer-centric organization. Digital capabilities allow a number of patient advantages, i.e. care on their terms (e.g. mobile apps, video visits), improved access (e.g. telemedicine), helping them stay well (e.g. digital monitoring tools), providing continuous engagement (e.g. portals), etc. But wrapping all of this technology around your healthcare brand ensures a differentiating, more trusting and relationship-enhancing patient journey and patient experience.

4. Transparency is woven into your organizational healthcare marketing. Healthcare decisions, more so than any other category, require trust. And one way to build this trust is through greater transparency around the quality and cost of care. Today, consumers faced with high-deductible health plans and increasing out-of-pocket expenses demand quality and cost information. They want to know answers to simple questions like “what will my true out-of-pocket costs be? Where can I get the best care for my money? Organizations that respond to this demand will stay ahead of competition and thrive in the age of consumer choice.

5. Takeaway of a coherent brand voice. Your brand has to be consistent across markets, facilities, service lines, platforms and audiences. Which means your healthcare marketing team is leading the orchestra and responsible for all the different pieces coming together to create a beautiful organizational sound, with the right tone and style. It’s important that this voice span design, advertising, experience, public relations and social media.

Making Every Marketing Dollar More Effective

A differentiating, relevant and inspiring brand makes every marketing dollar more effective. The challenge for healthcare organizations is to develop an overarching brand strategy to guide all healthcare marketing strategy and execution. This maximizes brand equity, aids brand awareness and recognition, and establishes the brand as the superior choice for prospective patients.

Do you have questions about developing and executing a brand-led healthcare marketing strategy? Reach out, as it’s likely we can assist. Since 1999, Trajectory has been been moving healthcare customers, brands and businesses upward to new destinations.


Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.