Not even the healthcare industry is exempt from the importance of good branding, so today we’re guiding you through the basic steps that will help you create a strong hospital brand.
Unfortunately, because of the covid-19 pandemic hospitals currently have even more business than they can handle. But this too will pass sooner or later, and the importance of healthcare branding will once again become apparent.
Yes, it’s true that people visit hospitals only when they have to. But that doesn’t mean that they only have one choice of hospital and it’s inevitably going to be yours. That’s why we’re looking at 5 key hospital branding steps that will help you create a strong brand and set up your healthcare organization for success.
Come up with a unique brand promise
Every good branding strategy begins with creating a unique brand identity. So you run a hospital. A hospital for heart conditions no less. A hospital for heart diseases in New York.
But what makes you truly unique?
Your brand promise is a unique value proposition for your clients (as well as all the basic stuff like what area of healthcare you specialize in). When you start to think up your brand promise, chances are you’ll end up with something that’s already used by your competitors. Keep researching and experimenting so that the final result will be both unique and perfectly suited to your new brand.
Here’s an example you can certainly learn from. St Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of, if not the most famous children’s hospital in the world. Of course, it goes without saying that they reached this stage in huge part thanks to the expertise of their medical staff. But then again, the name has popped up in many popular films and TV shows, it’s become a hospital brand that’s synonymous with children’s health. The reason for this is their great brand promise, which you can see on their website: “Finding cures. Saving children.”
Highlighting the research aspect, this clinic’s brand strategy focuses on innovation in healthcare. They don’t just save kids (which is incidentally something that most children’s hospitals also do); they find cures even when there isn’t one in sight.
Create a company culture
A healthcare brand is only as good as its staff. In other words, no matter how effective your branding and marketing strategies are in attracting clients, patients stick around if they like the doctors and medical staff providing immediate care. It goes without saying that you should always try to hire the people with the best medical expertise, but when it comes to brand building, creating a company culture with internal stakeholders is almost equally important.
Creating a positive work environment isn’t enough to transform staff into your brand ambassadors. If all they have to say about your healthcare organization is “it’s a great place to work”, in the bottom line, this won’t really help to attract new patients. However, if the staff are also excited about the brand promise, if they are keen to share the messaging of your brand, you’re en route to hospital branding success.
This heartwarming video is part of a hospital branding campaign called “What Are You Bringing To Work Today” from a healthcare organization called Ellis Medicine. The chief pharmacist tells the story of how a thoughtful coworker helped her out during a hard time and also points out that because of this positive work environment, her personal problems didn’t affect the welfare of the patients.
Create a visual identity that stands out
You can blame consumerism for it if you like, but it’s also in our nature to let the sense of sight affect decisions that we make it life (for example, it’s believed that red is a good food and restaurant branding color because this is how our ancestors could tell ripe fruit apart from unripe).
A unique visual identity isn’t just a form of differentiation from your competitors, it’s also another channel through which you should enforce your key branding messages. For example, if you’re a cutting-edge research clinic you might opt for a very modern and sleek visual identity, and if you run a big hospital system, a more conventional brand image that will speak to most patients might be a better solution. If you run a nonprofit organization that provides data and recommendations for government whitepapers on healthcare, your identity should command a sense of authority.
Hapvida healthcare system in Brazil is a great example of modern and innovative hospital branding. At first, you might be struck by how colorful and fun a hospital brand can be. But although this isn’t something we’re necessarily used to, this hospital brand image is perfectly appropriate for the healthcare industry. Instead of showing patients in hospital beds, this hospital brand opted for a visual identity that celebrates health. With high-quality images of people in their homes, and a fresh, modern color palette, this brand’s visual identity blends together healthcare with wellness and alleviates some of the usual anxiety around a visit to the doctor. Their hospital logo is both memorable and professional and perfectly reflects their empowering take on healthcare.
Address the patient experience
We’ve explained why it’s important to make your staff your brand’s advocates (they are the ones who interact with your patients). But there are things you can do on the top level of your hospital system that can help transform regular patients into brand ambassadors.
Instead of blatantly telling new patients that your healthcare brand is the best one out there, think about addressing their concerns and pain points, whether it’s the proximity of the nearest hospital or the unease of meeting a new doctor. If you show that you have an ear for their problems and provide a stellar service later on, it will be much easier to get them to make referrals. Good public relations means getting your brand messaging to match the testimonials of your patients.
One great example of hospital branding in this respect comes from White Planes Hospital. It shows a cancer survivor and her doctor talking about the treatment process at White Planes. The interview is focused on the patient experience: how the doctor had previously treated this patient’s mother and of the long-standing bond that has formed since. The medical professional gives her view of the research excellence which has been made available at this healthcare facility, which highlights the brand promise: outstanding medical and customer service.
This case study is yet another reminder of just how much individual patient experience is affected by their relationships with designated doctors and helps to highlight the point that you need to get both patients and staff excited behind your healthcare brand.
Hospital marketing campaigns that make sense
With the world of digital marketing blossoming with ever-inventive marketing strategies and social media ad campaigns, it may seem hard at first how something as conventional as the healthcare industry can claim its market share of this glitzy and creative space.
Well, the answer to that question is pretty complex. With some types of healthcare facilities like plastic surgeons or dental services, it’s becoming perfectly appropriate to utilize the power of social media marketing; for example, many of these hospital brands use influencers as their brand ambassadors.
On the other hand, marketers might have a more challenging task when it comes to large hospital systems that aren’t expected to have particularly trendy or “flashy” digital marketing campaigns. With institutions that deal with more serious conditions, expertise and professionalism come first, so something like a webinar might be a far more effective way to get new patients interested in your hospital brand.
One of the largest and most famous research clinics in the world, the Mayo Clinic, for example, has a great content strategy that perfectly fits their hospital brand. They have a blog section that includes specialized articles relevant to medical professionals, as well as patients’ testimonials.
However, this isn’t to say that social media is off limits for hospital marketing. The Arkansas Children’s Hospital in partnership with the Injury Prevention Center started a social media campaign with a shocking title #100deadliestdays. The title refers to the days between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day when there is a spike in teen car crashes and the campaign was meant to raise awareness on safe driving and the protection of children in traffic. But they also expanded the campaign to other related topics like the dangers of children being inside very hot cards during the summer months.
We hope that this brief guide helped you to understand better some key aspects of hospital branding. The most important takeaway that’s perhaps more relevant in the healthcare industry than anywhere else is to focus on people. Just like good doctors don’t approach patients as “work”, but rather people with a unique set of physical and mental features, good hospital branding doesn’t see them as payers of hospital bills.
Hospital brand building goes far beyond a single patient’s treatment. A strong brand stays in the mind of patients as your institution becomes their first pick out of the entire healthcare system.