If you’re not a healthcare marketing executive in a truly stand out health system or hospital with a sharply distinguished and favorable image — your healthcare branding should be your go-to weapon of choice.
Given the timing of this post, it’s sort of like Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski being a sure-thing go-to weapon of choice if you want to win a Super Bowl. Which is actually due to Bill Belichick’s methodical approach to teamwork and to diagnosing, play-calling and repetition as the only way to drive a consistently favorable team performance. Whether healthcare branding or winning the Super Bowl — the typical response of looking for quick tactical fixes to issues (in this case hospital marketing ideas) which are often misdiagnosed, yields little to no lasting results. Healthcare branding is key.
Since 1999, Trajectory has practiced a comprehensive and imaginative approach to developing healthcare branding strategies that has consistently produced strong and lasting results for our clients. Here are some broad guidelines that will help pave the path to your healthcare branding success.
1. Align With Business Strategy
As the face of your business, rule #1 is that your healthcare branding needs to align with current and going-forward business strategy. Which means that your brand is shaped starting with your strategic plan, and then engineered through daily brand management across corporate, hospitals, service lines, outpatient, etc. Considering the demand side of your organization’s business model (i.e. the outputs of its activities) – your healthcare branding should reflect how your organization uniquely creates and delivers value.
2. A Central Brand Idea
Every business needs a brand, and every brand needs an idea. Regardless of what you call it — whether your north star, essence, purpose, central organizing idea, etc. — your central brand idea is an important internal and external beacon for your organization. For today’s more conscious consumers, the big idea is the crucial driver of success, and it must be big enough to sustain your organization for at least a handful of years. In the words of management consultant Simon Sinek — people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
3. Emotional Bonds Through Every Interaction
Branding is a verb. Which means every interaction is an opportunity for your healthcare branding to add value and strengthen your emotional connection with communities and patients. Here’s a really simple way to say it – bake your brand into every bit of your business. Using the business model example above as a starting point, you can map every single touchpoint of the patient journey and put your unique and genuine fingerprint on every interaction.
4. Keep It Authentic
Consumers today expect more from brands. They increasingly require an authentic experience across all the online and offline ways they interact with an organization. Across numerous surveys, Millennials report that the number one way that brands can engage them is to have an “authentic purpose.” Brands from the likes of MasterCard to Amazon to Red Bull are pioneers for authenticity in branding and marketing, and your healthcare branding must follow suit as expectations know no category boundaries. Today, no brand becomes great unless it is totally clear and consistent about who it is, why it is and how it approaches the market.
5. Connections From The Inside Out
A strong brand brings employees together to improve efficiencies, work towards common goals and align around a larger idea. Specific to healthcare, employee engagement is also crucial to being able to build a culture of service excellence – where brand experience is largely shaped by staff, nurses and professionals on the front lines who interact daily with customers and must meet their rising expectations. Together, these internal audiences should create a potent team of brand ambassadors who “live” the organization’s brands and build momentum from the inside out.
6. Simple Is Smarter
This trend is all-encompassing. From positioning to portfolio to messaging, to logo design and graphics, to website and overall customer experience, smart brands are looking towards subtraction rather than addition to add value. Today’s noisy, technologically-driven lifestyle calls for helping consumers cope by delivering simplicity across the experiences they deliver.
7. A Larger Ambition
Healthcare marketing executives are operating in a quickly changing marketplace, with customer expectations constantly being reset by outside industry players. Given this, you need to see what’s happening beyond your organization’s traditional competitors, and you need to think about what you might be — not what you are. You can’t allow yourself to be trapped in the present. No hospital marketing executive wants the shock of finding that (fill-in-the-blank technology or retail brand) has stolen their local community out from under them.
8. Be Different
Follow the same path as your rivals and you’re playing a zero-sum game. Smart organizations try to somehow rewrite the rules of the game, and in so doing can wrong-foot their rivals. Key to success is setting out to create a brand that speaks more about your customer — and helps them rewrite the rules for their game rather than your product. The things that help them to gain more confidence, overcome obstacles, celebrate personal victories, move them forward in ways beyond your competitors.
Since 1999, our healthcare marketing agency has practiced a comprehensive and imaginative approach to building healthcare branding strategies that has consistently produced strong and lasting results for our clients. Reach out if we can assist your organization.