Step back in time by a decade or two, to a scenario when doctors, healthcare professionals and hospitals did not find the need to lay special emphasis on ‘Branding’. Patients made healthcare decisions based on word-of-mouth, physician referrals and past experiences. Therefore, hospitals and healthcare professionals were not in the process of marketing themselves aggressively. The industry was reasonably stable, the patient flow was somewhat predictable, and the competition was rather low-key.
Fast forward to present day, when performance metrics have moved from those like death-rate or recovery-rate to more value-based parameters like patient satisfaction. Further, the emphasis is now on prevention as opposed to treatment. Various factors in the marketplace have resulted in a dramatic rise in the need for healthcare branding – be it doctor branding, physician branding or hospital branding!
Healthcare Branding Defined:
Much like professional reputation, branding in the healthcare industry is simply the process of creating a unique, differentiated name and image associated with the healthcare professional/provider.
Primary Forces that Drive Healthcare Branding
- Empowered Patients: There is a greater need to appeal to and engage with patients effectively. Today, patients and prospective patients are very well informed and take a proactive role in their healthcare decisions.
- Growing Competition: There is also the increasing need to respond to the ever-growing competitive landscape. It is necessary for healthcare professionals/providers to be visible, dependable and consistent in the public eye. From a strategic marketing standpoint, brand recall is one of the ways to position and differentiate from competitors while retaining the mindshare of patients.
- Insurance Relationships: The requirement to maintain and nurture insurance relationships cannot be ignored. Branding is an important link in the relationship between the healthcare provider and the insurance industry.
The Importance of Branding in the Healthcare Industry
Like in any industry, strong branding has its perks for the provider/professional in the healthcare industry too. How many people do you know who prefer known brands though they come at a premium cost? Quite a few, right?
A brand is a promise. Professional reputation is built and sustained through effective branding coupled with living up to the promise. In the healthcare industry, trust is critical. Known brands reduce perceived risk and it is assumed that recognized, reputed names live up to their promise and deliver quality care consistently. A focussed branding message also helps healthcare providers target and attract the right audience. There’s also a huge competitive advantage with branding - superior brand recall implies you are well differentiated and stand out in comparison to your competition.
Building a Successful Healthcare Brand
Now that you’ve understood why you need branding in the healthcare sector, these branding basics will help you craft a more strategic position for your healthcare organization.
- Brand Audit:
Like any other audit, a brand audit helps you do the right type of research to recognize what works and what doesn’t for your organization, thereafter, helping to formulate the look, feel and sound of the brand. Understanding buyer personas, buyers’ attitudes and stakeholder interactions help you discover what is imperative to your target customers and what drives their purchasing decision
- Brand Story, Brand Positioning, Brand Identity:
Ok, if you thought your brand story is about you, think again – it’s about how the patients you serve can relate to you. To truly differentiate, you need a relatable brand story that distinguishes you from the others.
Brand positioning is the conceptual place you want to own in the mind of your target customers and the differentiating factors you want them to picture when they think of your brand. From your positioning, you will be able to mould a consistent, strong message that resonates with your audience, both within the organization and outside.
Brand identity comprises the verbal elements (tonality, voice) and visual elements (logos, colours, typography) that consistently represent your organization. Successful branding involves a well-researched and formulated brand identity that tightly aligns with brand positioning.
- Brand Experience:
Once the story, positioning and identity are established, the most important part comes to play - to ensure that these are communicated at every single touchpoint. If you claim that you value patients on your website but keep them on hold on a phone call for over 10 minutes, you’re destroying your brand. Patient experience is everything now. By improving your patients’ online experience whether through a user-friendly website, patient portal or online appointments, you can ensure that your brand is aligned with their needs and expectations. Consistency and cohesiveness are the keys here, translating into reliability.
- Brand Content:
With the brand guidelines in place, the next and perhaps most interesting step is creating and disseminating content. Luckily for healthcare brands, there is enough availability of educational as well as inspirational content. The vast and complex world that healthcare is, there would be no dearth of effective content to publish across all digital media platforms. Regardless of whether your healthcare brand is B2B or B2C, quality content enables you to pitch for being an industry leader, reassuring customers that your brand has the appropriate solution for their requirements. We repeat again, ‘Content is King’ and the importance of content in healthcare branding can’t be emphasized enough.
- Digital Marketing and Advertising:
It is undoubtedly a digital era, with customers relying on websites, digital content and social media for information, recommendations and reviews. Patients prefer brands that make health care easier, whether it is through online appointments, digital reports, online follow-ups or purchasing medicines online. Customers are online and that’s where brands should be too. Discounts on blood tests and other services can be easily marketed or advertised digitally – on websites, Google Ads, social media and so on. Insurance is one of the main hiccup areas in healthcare and a brand which promises easy handling of insurance, alongside reputed doctors and world-class treatment is bound to be a favourite among patients.
Your brand is the single most vital asset that differentiates you unswervingly. Your brand walks the talk and communicates the unique competitive advantage that you bring to the table, influencing customers to consider and accept you as their best choice. Looking for an expert that can help you with branding your healthcare organization? Speak to our team at Wisoft.
Significance of branding in the healthcare industry
To stay ahead in this competitive world, it is important to make your hospital brand’s presence felt online. And this can be done by optimizing your brand’s online presence with enhanced search engine results.
Local SEO services for health care can help in optimizing page titles and its content with geographic modifiers by creating Google+ Local business profile. It will boost your brand's visibility and location information in your target markets.
Also, social media services can do marvels to your health care branding. Sharing contents, news and relevant content on social media will not only increase the visibility but also boost your popularity and authority.