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Feb 14 2019

Healthcare Branding: Envision Your Company’s Future

Healthcare Branding

The healthcare system is facing increased competition as consumers choose from more and more options. In order for healthcare brands to continue growing, they must provide compelling reasons for patients to choose them over the competition. The overall sum of these reasons forms the backbone of your healthcare branding identity.

When it comes to establishing healthcare branding, the most effective method is to highlight your points of differentiation and keep messaging consistent across all channels. This is the cornerstone of healthcare branding — or any branding, really. Identify the needs and wants of your audience front-and-center, determine how you deliver them, communicate this, and then make sure you do so at every touchpoint.

The first step is to establish what makes your healthcare brand different from all the others. Then you can develop the strategies and uncover the right messaging to engage, or even inspire, your audience to trust you with their healthcare needs.

What is Healthcare Branding?

What is Healthcare Branding

Not to be confused with advertising or public relations, branding for healthcare organizations communicates your values, traits and personality. It’s your competitive differentiator.

Branding is important for all industries, but it plays an especially important role in the healthcare industry. Unlike picking the next hotel to book for vacation, choosing healthcare providers has much larger impact on an individual’s future. Decisions about healthcare impart a greater importance and tend to be based on a trusting relationship, rather than gimmicky advertising.

Creating the right healthcare branding strategy will help you stand out in the marketplace and attract new patients (or even attract top-quality physicians). But, how? When you are so invested in the day-to-day demands of running your practice, branding efforts tend to get lost in the noise.

It’s time to close the gap and help people find what they’re looking for online.

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Healthcare Branding That Answers: “Why You”

Patients, today, are comparison shoppers. They want to find the best healthcare provider available, but also one that takes their insurance, has the best reviews, exhibits quality bedside manner, and a host of other intangibles.

What’s your golden nugget that differentiates your brand from the rest? Do you deliver the best patient experience? Are your physicians the cream of the crop? Is your wait time minimal? Are appointments easy to make? Does the hospital cafe have five stars on Yelp? (yup, that’s actually a thing).

Once you identify your special differentiator(s), you need to determine how your organization can live up to the hype.

Rising Above the Noise

Whether your audience is brand-savvy millennials, wealthy baby boomers or an invested caregiver, consumers want your brand’s promise, delivered. They’re not just buying your services, they’re buying into your brand and the security that comes from your brand promise. For example, if your organization is claiming to be “cutting-edge” and an “industry-leader,” you better have a consistent and strong message (and services) to match such a powerful claim.

DID YOU KNOW

Approximately 80 percent of Internet users search for a health-related topic online.
-Pew Internet & American Life Project
With the large amount of people searching online for health-related information today, you must break through the clutter. And that doesn’t mean ads. Purchasing their attention is usually out of the question.

Healthcare organizations must earn the ability to stand out and connect with their audience.

Healthcare branding must equal TRUST. So, you must walk the walk if you want to rise above the noise.

Who is Searching for Healthcare Brands?

Who is Searching for Healthcare Brands

Research suggests that every generation has their own unique emotional triggers and motivators for choosing medical providers. They interact with brands in a distinctly different way.

For example, the silent generation (75+) prefers the traditional doctor-patient model, relying on their physicians for health information. To attract this generation, reputation building must be at the forefront, especially when supported by branding communication. However, most often, these patients are no longer making health decisions on their own. Their children and grandchildren are helping.

Their children – the Baby Boomers – are less likely to research health options online. They are more influenced by doctor referrals or prefer practices they have used in the past. To engage this population, it’s helpful to integrate online and offline messaging that drives them to the web. A consistent customer experience is also very important to this generation.

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Generation X patients have a natural tendency to search online for healthcare information, often consulting social networks when making care decisions. Reputation building strategies should focus on positive patient experiences and consistent brand messaging in all media platforms.

Millennials and Gen Y, are only in their 20s and have a lower need for inpatient/outpatient services than other generations. But that doesn’t mean these young adults aren’t actively looking for information. Their decision making process is heavily influenced by reputation and patient experiences. They find their information through search, review sites, social networks and word of mouth referrals.

As you can see, reputation is key for all age groups. It’s critical to take a look at your organization through the eyes of your consumers and ensure your messaging is consistent on every single touchpoint.

If, for example, a healthcare provider markets themselves as valuing their patients, yet they don’t respond to their Facebook Message inquiry for days, they’re crushing their brand reputation.

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” ~Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, TV host, actress, writer, producer.

By crafting a strategic online experience, including user-friendly website navigation and quality customer service, healthcare brands will be able to lean on their brand values to stand out from all the rest and attract new patients.

What Are Patients Searching?

Healthcare Patients

According to the study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the most frequent topics people researched online were:

  • Specific disease or medical problem (63 percent)
  • Particular medical treatment or procedure (47 percent)
  • Diet, nutrition and vitamins (44 percent)
  • Exercise or fitness information (36 percent)
  • Prescription or over-the-counter drugs (34 percent)
  • Alternative treatments (28 percent)
  • Health insurance (25 percent)
  • Depression, anxiety or stress (21 percent)
  • Particular doctor or hospital (21 percent)

The study indicates that searching for medical information or healthcare is one of the most popular activities online and that more than half of the individuals conducting these searches are conducted on behalf of someone else, such as a spouse, child, parent, friend or loved one. The only activities that top it are e-mail and researching a product or service before a purchase.

DID YOU KNOW
Women are more likely than men to search online for health information (85 percent compared to 75 percent) and younger consumers are more likely to research health topics online than senior citizens.
-Pew Internet & American Life Project

Give Your Healthcare Brand a Check-Up

Every year, the healthcare industry gets more competitive. Physicians, clinics, care centers and hospitals all compete for consumer’s attention and dollars. Patients are better informed and more savvy, doing their research for healthcare brands, just as they do for retailers.

In turn, too many organizations address the symptoms rather than attack the root cause. They end up turning to aggressive advertising or scrambling to invest in new facilities. Yet the most powerful strategy is to focus on branding. Building a clear brand position, while maintaining consistent messaging, will establish strong, healthy brand identity and open the door to future growth.

The Future of Healthcare Branding

Building a strong brand will help you set your organization apart from the competition, expand market share and generate more trust among potential patients.

The top ten key healthcare branding steps:

  1. Define your positioning statement.
  2. Identify your core values.
  3. Get to know your patients: their wants and needs.
  4. Identify their emotional drivers.
  5. Put your audience front-and-center.
  6. Create a quality patient experience
  7. Deliver consistent key messaging across all patient touch points.
  8. Integrate this message throughout all platforms.
  9. Analyze your competition.
  10. Give your brand a regular check-up (keep a close eye on analytics).

These can be achieved through a medley of online strategies, including:search engine optimization, publishing engaging content, reputation management, and establishing a consistent brand voice. Working together, healthcare brands will drive more traffic to their site, boost their perceived trustworthiness, and ultimately, increase patient appointments.

At CMDS, we have vast experience building medical and healthcare brands nationwide. Our experts know how to position brands and keep them alive and thriving for future brand health. Give us a call at 732.706.5555 or fill out this online form to speak with a branding strategist and learn more.

Learn more about Healthcare Branding

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