Marketing and healthcare are not two words usually put together and as such brand strategy is often considered unnecessary and therefore pushed aside in this industry. Often it’s believed healthcare shouldn’t be a for profit organisation and as such shouldn’t be linked to marketing initiatives, it’s been considered too sensitive and serious an industry to employ branding strategy to generate profits. As patients and customers our level of expectation when it comes to healthcare branding and communications has been pretty low. Bland and poorly designed communications are the expected norm. This spartan approach seems to be a way of saying “we are above the commercial money making practices of other industries and therefore will not spend on superfluous marketing”. But good branding offers so much more than just profits.
Strategic branding ensures a connection to the customer, inspires loyalty and trust and can engage, inform and support its customer. Healthcare like almost every other industry has become more and more customer centric over time, which means a strong brand is going to cut through and reach and gain the trust of more customers in an industry whose cornerstone is trust and loyalty. Customer engagement is key in being able to create a connection and build trust and thankfully the healthcare industry is starting to catch up when it comes to its communications. So what do you look at when branding your practice or industry? How do you create customer engagement and build loyalty? What is the best way to inform and educate your customer?
As with all industries an effective brand differentiates itself from its competitors, and highlights what it can offer that others in the industry do not. Communicating what specialist services you offer that isn’t offered anywhere else combined with the years of experience in the field all build a brand persona that the customer can trust and depend on. More fundamental than this a brand communicates the mission and values of the company and aims to align that vision with customer needs. Above all a really good brand creates an emotive response from the customer, it tells a story that makes a connection and resonates. In the end a brand is not selling just a service to the customer, they are buying a story, values an emotion. Good branding connects to the mind but great branding connects to the heart.
Once the fundamental elements of a brand are created through following a solid branding process (research, strategy and implementation) then you need to ensure your brand strategy is getting the exposure on the right platforms. Having multiple touchpoints that are appropriate for your market sector will ensure you are reaching the right demographic for your service. For example using social medium platforms like Instagram that target Y Gens and Millennials are probably not going to give you the results you are after if you are communicating aged care services to the Baby Boomers. Understanding that there has been a massive shift from print driven marketing to digital and aligning your marketing strategy to that is essential in the current climate. Did you know that over 5% of all Google searches are for healthcare related topics and that over a whopping 80% of physician use the internet and social media to research Biotech and other medical devices? Not understanding the current trends and differentiating yourself means you will be lost in a sea of competitors and you risk losing new and repeat customers and patients.
Apart from building and maintaining your patient and customer base, having a solid strategic brand will also help attract investors, partners and funding for any industry projects you have in the pipeline. No one will invest in a company that looks unprofessional and untrustworthy and this will ultimately hamstring your mission in building your company and business which in turn will hinder your ability to service your patients in the most effective way. In addition to this not having a strong brand means the rest if your team won’t have a strong picture of your mission and values to align themselves to. It’s difficult to align your team with your businesses core values if you don’t communicate what these are effectively.
There are many reasons why branding for the healthcare industry is the cornerstone for success, but it’s important that a professional creative agency that is skilled and experienced is engaged to undertake this process with you. An agency with expertise in this field will be able to drill down into your core mission and values and be able to communicate this with a brand that has both relevance and longevity and they will understand what touch points will then be the most effective for your target market.