How to Find the Differentiating Marketing Heart of Your Hospital Brand

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

why you? positioning statementAs a student of marketing, I tend to dissect the brand name-logo-tagline combinations that I notice. Professionally and personally, I admire the good ones. But the bad ones in particular grab my attention. Like driving into a pea soup fog bank, there is a sudden disconnect with the highway, landmarks and even reality.

When you spot hospital taglines like these, you have to wonder: “What were they thinking?”

  • 5-star care
  • Healthcare system of opportunity
  • Highest quality healthcare

The core question is: “Why you?” Without differentiation, a hospital, health system or a doctor looks the same as the next hospital, health system or provider. There is no clear, compelling or convincing idea to inspire the public to select you.

A tagline or slogan isn’t the starting point, and it can’t do all the work. Committees, trying to please everyone, often derail creativity. Or, they skip the critical first step of defining a hospital positioning statement and jump to “we-should-have-a-slogan.”

Here’s where to begin…

The positioning statement is the differentiating heart of your hospital brand marketing. Identifying and articulating this core concept—briefly, in one or two sentences—is challenging to write. Here’s a useful exercise to point you to the essence of your brand and branding message.

Simply, “a positioning statement is an expression of how a given product, service or brand fills a particular consumer need in a way that its competitors don’t.” The primary ingredients for this formula include:

  • CUSTOMER/AUDIENCE: Exactly who do we serve?
  • NEED/PROBLEM: What do they need; what is the opportunity?
  • SERVICE/PRODUCT: What do we offer that answers the need?
  • COMPELLING BENEFIT: Why should they select us over the competition?

From his book, Crossing the Chasm, business author Geoffrey Moore offers the following template to outline a positioning statement:

For ______ (target customer) who _____ (statement of the need or opportunity), the _____ (product/service name) is a _____ (product/service category) that _____ (statement of key benefit; compelling reason to buy). Unlike _____ (primary competitive alternative), our product/service _____ (statement of primary differentiation).

As you refine your work, keep in mind that the best positioning statements will be brief, memorable and connect with the audience on an emotional level. Be forewarned, it looks simple, but it requires a generous dose of creative thinking to get it right. When you have a draft in hand, please give us a call. We have a lot of experience with hospital and healthcare branding and can help you build a solid foundation for success.

And for RELATED READING on this topic, click through to: The Singularity of Hospital Branding Success and Thinking Forward: Taking Your Hospital Brand to the Next Level.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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