I made this guide because the current coronavirus situation allows you to learn more about the elements needed for an effective healthcare brand.
I built on the most authentic, most valuable resources and my own field experience.
We have to say that branding in healthcare is a slightly new concept. In the past, the healthcare industry hasn’t needed to brand itself because it hasn’t faced the level of competition it faces presently.
Of course, branding isn’t everything when it comes to healthcare.
Many people will choose based on availability and what their insurance will cover – you cannot win every game.
However, in today’s world, with new technology allowing patients access to reviews and ratings online, most companies cannot afford to overlook their brand image for long. But first, let’s clarify what “branding” means.
People use the term (branding) reciprocally with a logo, some design, or even sometimes typography. Let’s start with what branding isn’t.
It’s not a logo. A logo is a beneficial tool for a business, but it’s not the brand itself. It’s a symbol for the brand.
It’s not a company. Some people talk about “this brand changed its name to another brand.”
They’re talking about changing the name or some other identity, but not the brand itself. You can modify some visual elements of your brand tools, but you can’t just change your brand.
It’s not just a promise. Advertising people like to say it’s the sum of all the impressions that a company makes on an audience.
Well, if you’re trying to sell many impressions, I can see where that might be useful to you.
But from a business point of view, it is much more important to be aware of why do people want those impressions from you? So none of the mentioned things are what branding means.
A brand is a result. It’s a customer’s gut feeling about a product, a service, or a company. It ends up in their heads, in their hearts.
They take whatever raw materials you throw at them, and they make something out of it. But it’s all about them. They’re creating it. So in a sense, when you create a brand, you’re not creating one brand.
You’re building millions of brands regarding the size of your target audience. Each patient has a different brand of you.
Your brand is your business reputation.
To best wrap your head around the branding process, think of your brand as a person. Your brand should have an identity (who it is), personality (how it behaves), and experience (how it’s remembered).
Visibly, a brand is a feature or set of features that distinguish one practice from another.
It is typically comprised of a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more. However, these elements represent only visible parts of the iceberg.
It also refers to the overall experience a patient undergoes when interacting with your business. Your brand will always exist in the minds of your patients.
Use your free time to rethink your brand – let’s take a closer look at the critical elements. Let’s move in chronological order, just as a brand is usually born.
0. Understand your current “brand.”
You will find dozens of articles on how to build a brand.
However, in the case of health care companies, we are talking about existing businesses that have been in existence for several years and, even if often unconsciously, there is an established/developed experience of people about your practice.
How does it feel to be a patient in your practice right now?
Analyze the feedback you have received. (see Ben Morriss’s article on this in a subsequent chapter).
I recently read about a dentistry, where a manager signed up for a treatment in disguise just to be convinced of what was happening in reality.
I don’t want you spying on your employees, but to penetrate a patient’s skin. Feel what they feel, so you have reliable checklists on what you should improve.
1. Re-determine your target audience(s).
As with any business, a healthcare company must know its potential customers as intimately as possible.
It should have a good understanding of the gender, the age, the geographic location, the mindset, beliefs, morals of its customers to establish itself with them.
It would help if you were collecting market data to identify your primary customer base, and then finding out as much as you can about them and considering how they will respond to your products and your marketing.
These days it is all about the patient experience.
For example, if you know your product is suited predominantly for young mothers, you need to design your entire branding strategy with this in mind.
The images and language you use, the fonts you select, the positioning in your retail outlets – everything about your brand must be formulated to suit this audience.
Stewart Gandolf write a thorough article about audience research. If you do this with his guide, your targeting will be laser-focused for sure.
Read the full article HERE.
2. Re-establish your mission.
Why did you create your practice?
Answering this will help you build your mission statement, which defines your purpose and passion as an organization. Look at your mission sentence as a positioning statement.
What is the one thing you want patients or the public to remember about you, if they remember only one thing?
This needs to be tightly defined because prospective patients are exposed to at least 3,000 commercial messages a day.
Also, try to avoid your own biases. While you may be proud of your advanced education and achievements, remember that you are not your audience.
Prospective patients are far more interested in how and why you can be of benefit to their lives. I share probably the best resource that exists to create your mission statement.
Click HERE, download Hubspot’s guide, and do all the exercises they write.
3. Redefine your values and positioning.
The goal of positioning is to create a unique impression in your customer’s mind that sets your brand apart.
Of course, to accomplish this, first you have to define what makes your brand unique, what are the fundamental values for patients.
A quick scroll through the positioning statements of the top hospitals in the U.S. reveals the majority claim to be “leaders” and “cutting-edge.”
If your organization is also claiming to be a leader, you’re not alone — and that’s the problem.
In positioning, the first brand to fill an existing gap in the patient’s head wins. So this means two things: we need to know the positions in our target audience and what our competitors are trying to fill.
At this stage, I advise you to read Al Ries and Jack Trout’s book first (here’s an excellent note).
Then, do a complete competitor analysis using the guide here.
4. Upgrade your visual assets.
At this point, you should understand your target audience, your mission statement, and the unique qualities that make up your business.
If you can say with confidence that you’ve mastered these steps, it’s time to move onto one of the more exciting parts of branding — the visual design.
Do not forget that a great logo or some sexy visual elements aren’t everything when it comes to healthcare, but it can go a long way in building a relationship with customers.
When refreshing your visual identity, it’s important to remember the power that a proper identification can wield. The best brand personalities stand for something.
I recommend you again one of the Hubspot’s guide to fresh up your guideline.
5. Re-activate your brand.
An often overlooked but essential element of a successful brand strategy is the collaboration of your internal stakeholders.
Your physicians, receptionists, and other team members are the real-life expression of your brand.
They must understand and support your brand so they can share it authentically. Everybody within your company is affecting the brand – it’s up to you whether they improve brand experience or hurting it.
A brand is only as powerful as the people behind it, and if your people aren’t putting your brand to work, it won’t work for you.
Moreover, your brand applies to more than your marketing. Inform your complete team of your brand guidelines and tell them to use it, especially when they engage directly with customers.
Branding is not defining the things and making it look flashy.
Instead, it is a strategized process of proposing your strong healthcare characteristics and your quality of service.
To attract and retain patients, build trust, loyalty, maximize the significance of your brand, and be stand-alone from your competitors. A strong brand shows people its actual values in such difficult times.
Don’t let silence break your confidence, rethink your brand, and support people.