By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
Change can be hard to embrace. The nation’s healthcare delivery system—which has traditionally been slow to adjust—is experiencing unprecedented reform. And with it, one significant consequence is the need for healthcare branding, rebranding or a completely new approach.
The Affordable Care Act and other social dynamics have changed the fundamentals of doing business. Maybe you are no longer able to attract the patients or cases you want. Perhaps your brand message is out of date, no longer unique or differentiating. Competition for doctors, hospitals and entire health systems has shifted.
The slow, steady and predictable business environment is a tapestry of mergers, rollups, acquisitions and new provider entities. Plus, patients have become more informed and empowered consumers. Your well-considered healthcare branding is now dated, off-target or totally wrong.
Healthcare organizations must be willing to challenge your current branding message for revisions or replacement where market conditions have changed. The organization that clearly and uniquely differentiates will become the brand that successfully stands out in the mind of the consumer, the customer, the patient and the public.
Key considerations that shape healthcare branding…
Promise and deliver. An effective brand is the singular idea that you own inside the mind of a prospective customer. It is a distinctive difference, backed by consistent performance.
Identify a value-added edge over the competition. What is highly unique about what you do that delivers greater value to the patient over and above whatever else is available in the marketplace? Whatever issue you choose to compete upon, it needs to be the one thing that best characterizes the experience.
Be willing to ignore someone. By definition, your positioning must be unique. Therefore, you cannot be everything to everyone. The challenge will be to appeal to many, while recognizing that your positioning cannot be universal. Being everything to everyone is not unique. That’s bland, not brand.
Use the patient’s value system. Healthcare providers, either an individual or an organization (the seller), tend to think in terms of equipment, or in terms of clinical quality. Those things are important, but effective branding resonates with the tastes, attitudes, and sensibilities of the buyer. The needs of the patient (buyer) are rooted in results: pain relief, improved appearance, a healthier body, and perhaps confidence in good health.
It’s a top-down cultural commitment. Effectively communicating a brand message is the work of everyone in the organization. It is the doctors, staff, employees—everyone—who, through their attitudes, actions and public contacts, deliver on the brand promise. They need to deeply understand what the brand represents because, in many ways, they are your brand.
Deliver a consistent patient experience. Your brand promise shapes expectations. People prefer consistent quality to distracting surprises. A brand isn’t really a brand without a consistent, high quality patient experience at every touch-point in the care continuum.
Be in it for the long run. The business of healthcare branding is not a “quick fix.” It is a continuing, long-term process. A five-year timeframe is needed to effectively grow brand awareness and recognition.
We’re here to help…
For everyone in healthcare, it seems that change is inevitable. Keeping up with change is the challenge. “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive,” Charles Darwin said, “but those who can best manage change.”
We can help you manage change, or help guide your healthcare branding. Our mission is to provide proven, best practices marketing solutions that help you achieve specific and measurable goals. So call us for a no-obligation, exploratory conversation. Our number is (800) 656-0907.