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February 05, 2022
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As with other industries, administrators now must deploy sophisticated hospital branding strategy to enhance their quality of service delivery and trust. Learn how.

Hospitals in the US are having their hands full at the moment. Imagine having to combine the need to render quality health care at affordable rates with the pressure to invest in top-tier technology & infrastructure to drive healthcare service — while staying competitive (Remember, they’re a business at the end of the day!).

For hospital CEOs, it can be tempting to think the key to success lies in top-tier infrastructure and the “gifted hands” of their clinical workforce while overlooking another important investment — their brand, which is the face of their business.

To be fair, having a pretty tall building filled with expensive, state-of-the-art clinical equipment and the best physicians does bestow significant advantages in the medical care system, but to make sure patients who are in dire need of your clinical services want to choose your hospital in spite of the fierce competition in the health industry, you must invest in your branding.

How can you prevent your hospital from drowning in the sea of worthy competitors and prove your competence and trustworthiness to prospective clients? The answer is hospital branding. In a highly competitive healthcare system, branding helps you craft a unique image for your hospital that sets you apart from your competitors. So, you gain a healthy market share and boost your patient acquisition and retention rate.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the topic of hospital branding, its valuable contribution to the hospital’s success, and how to create a powerful hospital brand that’ll rocket your productivity and bottom line as a hospital.

But first, let’s address a few basic questions about this branding concept:

What is hospital branding?

It’s a branding strategy that involves creating and shaping the public perception of a hospital. It devotes branding elements to building a unique, distinctive image that resonates with patients.

Why is healthcare branding important?

Healthcare branding shines the spotlight on your hospital, differentiates you from your competitors, and evokes feelings in patients that make them willing to entrust their lives with you.

How can branding improve healthcare?

By prioritizing patients’ experience (due to the need to maintain a positive hospital brand image), branding can significantly improve the quality of healthcare service delivery and patient care.

Why hospital branding?

Branding is a crucial concept within every industry, and the healthcare business is no different. It’s the process of molding a strong, positive perception of your hospital in the minds of both current and future patients.

It involves the careful combination of branding elements such as logo, design, ads, mission statements, tone of content, and a consistent theme throughout all brand touchpoints to create a unique image that makes your hospital unique.

These design rules are what multiple market-leading companies have applied, to create branding and packaging designs, towards resounding commercial success. For instance, cutting-edge clinics like the UK hospital brand, Well, opt for a modern, slightly adventurous yet clinical twist to their visual identity. But for big clinics like the Mayo clinic, harping on their credibility better with a no-nonsense, traditional brand identity might be a better approach.

On the whole, hospital branding is quite different from other kinds of branding, given that the stakes are higher. Patients at a hospital or any other kind of healthcare service provider are not looking to purchase yet another product in bags with eye-popping packaging. Here, they have their lives, and entire existence at stake.

Why is branding in healthcare so important?

Let’s face it — Though healthcare organizations & hospitals, and workers are primarily intended to provide healthcare to the ailing (thanks to the Hippocratic Oath), they are still businesses at their core. Even public hospitals that are not run for profit still need to earn enough revenue to justify their budgets and retain funding.

Times have changed, health technology has made several giant leaps, and people now seek a broad array of clinical services. And all of these added activities have greatly expanded the healthcare system, creating a bigger technology-oriented market. Conversely, we’ve never had more hospitals competing for market share.

So, if any hospital brand is to have a fighting chance, they need to secure as many patients as they can. And the best route towards that is incorporating aggressive hospital branding and design strategies into their overall marketing strategy.

Here’s why:

Branding helps build your brand image

When your hospital brand is familiar to people even before they need clinical services, it’s not hard to guess which hospital they’d choose when they require medical assistance (yours, of course!).

Prognos Health is one of the many technology-based healthcare brands that personify the uncontestable importance of branding in building an enduring brand image. Right off the bat, anyone with even a little knowledge about hospitals knows the word ‘Prognosis’ and what it means. It has been used too often in the numerous medical dramas on TV to be an obscure, technical word.

Prognosis, (not to be confused with diagnosis,) simply means clinical insight into medical conditions and their likely course. So, by designing their brand name from the word, they were able to craft a unique public identity in their packaging as a healthcare brand invested in the clinical insights business, using a technology-enabled data-based approach to help patients to make sense of their prognoses early on, and to find the best possible options available to them.

Choosing that image and running with it, Prognos Health has been able to build a specific brand image and place it at the very top of general awareness; enabling them to stand uniquely apart from possible competitors.

Their 11 years of operation has seen them process over 325 Million de-identified patients and 100 Billion lab results and prescription records.

Your Hospital Brand’s Identity

Typically, when you think of brand identity, a logo with eye-catching typeface, a witty tagline, and a complementary color palette designed by an overly pricey PR agency may spring to mind. However, healthcare branding goes far beyond mere aesthetic appeal.

A hospital brand identity must start with the core of what your health organization is all about. It has to convey the values, voice, and emotional commitment of your hospital practice that lies behind your service offerings.

Let’s consider New York City-based dental care brand, Tend. Tend’s strategy was to blend their dental clinics into the general perception of NYC sophistication. Firstly with a simple logo and toned color choices, they’ve been able to effectively co-opt the increasingly popular notion that “simplicity is the new luxury.”

Tend

Image source: https://www.hellotend.com/join/why

Using this brand messaging, they’ve grossed estimated revenues of over $30 Million annually. This is the kind of result that you get when you hire a professional branding agency to run your design & branding projects.

Our experience working with numerous clients in the healthcare sector has taught us that besides teaching your employees to offer the optimum patient experience (since they are the ones that interact with clients), one better way to positively influence your brand image is through your visual identity.

This requires a deep level of technical-commercial understanding and a firm grip on the basics — like how colors impact patients’ wellbeing and choices. Ultimately, there are different needs to consider. Carefully crafting your hospital brand image is a balancing act that leaves you needing the high-level creativity of a branding agency.

300+ unique, completed projects by our award-winning branding agency with proven results leaves us with a wealth of experience you can lean on. Don’t get caught out in the cold. We’re happy to show you the ropes! Get advice from the chief analyst of our creative agency CEO — Stan here.

With expertly-done hospital branding, you can communicate the opinion, perspective, and image you want to create to both your patients and your workers; or better yet, try to fit into their existing perspectives.

Branding makes your marketing an absolute breeze

Branding ties together all the aspects of your healthcare organization, increasing the productivity of your entire system of marketing efforts. With clever enough design concepts and branding strategies, healthcare companies can strike up organic conversations surrounding their brand; potentially translating to increased engagement metrics.

Mayo Clinic, one of the most revered health research clinics globally has a strong branded content strategy and brand identity that fuels its marketing strategy. With brand content tailor-made for medical professionals and client testimonials that are every bit as eye-catching as they are heart-soothing, they’ve been able to pull in $13.9B in revenue as of March 2021.

Branding helps you communicate directly to your patients

The phrase “consumer is king” is the reigning mantra in today’s marketing, branding and design landscape, and I must say, no truer words have been said.

Customers love to know all the ground-breaking stuff you’ve been up to in your bid to best solve their medical issues. From high-end equipment to cutting-edge biomedical technology systems. Branding provides the means by which you can communicate with them in the best way.

Most of us are very familiar with CVS. Previously known just as a chain of pharmacies, the company reinvented itself in 2016, after over 50 years of existence, as a more complete player in the healthcare system with a wider scope of services.

CVS Pharmacy became CVS Health with four subsidiaries — CVS Pharmacy, CVS Specialty, CVS Minute Clinic and CVS Caremark. Well, as anyone would expect, what followed was a marketing campaign of historic proportions. but, if you ask us, what really did the trick was their logo designs and branding strategy.

Now, of course, they changed the name from CVS Pharmacy to CVS Health, but they retained the same letter font and signature red color.

CVS Health

Image source: https://www.cvs.com/international.html

Then used the same pattern in designing logos for all four new subsidiaries, communicating to customers that they could expect the same level of quality medical care that they had experienced at the old CVS Pharmacies.

Needless to say, the program took off, and to much success!

You could tell that they very likely had hired a top-of-the-line design and branding agency. And with the required expertise, you can get similar results with your hospital’s branding. Our team of branding experts has helped many effectively communicate their brand message in a way that reflects high-level creativity — the kind that pulls customers in and instantly connects with your brand message.

All the advancements in technology that you’ve implemented in your hospital and your commitment to innovative treatment may be lost with your audience where you lack a coherent, compelling, and comprehensive branding strategy.

In search of solutions? Need some clarity? Still not sure about how to get started on your hospital’s branding project? We get that all these may seem abstract, and we could go on and on about the importance of hospital branding. After all, it’s our expertise. But we also get that you’re here for results. Our experience in this field means we most likely have the answers to your hospital branding inquiries.

We’re pleased to chat about a potential partnership that will be tailored to your hospital’s need. Click here for a free project pre-development and consultation from our CEO.

Tips to improve a hospital’s brand

It’s no secret that the internet has become a huge factor in shaping the public’s perception and collective awareness. And so, it is only natural that people use it to try to find quick, on-demand solutions to occasional health niggles or scares, or just to learn more about medical conditions.

Fun fact: Google reports that one in every 20 Google search inquiries are directly related to health issues.

With this in mind, you want to hire a maverick design and branding agency with sufficient deep commercial understanding and a high-level creativity to create the most effective strategies for integrating the internet into your general branding, in the best way to elicit positive responses.

As an agency with many years spent on implementing branding principles in healthcare, we know this: most of your patients looked up your medical center online at least once before visiting. The stats also back it up here where it claims two-thirds of all patients search the internet prior to a health consultation.

Below, we’ve listed some tips to help you crack the code of today’s hospital branding. But first, let’s take a look at one of the unique completed projects handled by our award-winning branding agency with proven results:

DME is a mid-size hospital based out of Chesterfield in Virginia. Sometime in the second quarter of 2020, the administrators felt the need to undertake a high-impact, flawless launch of a new brand identity.

There was a request to urgently apply our firm’s deep commercial understanding to help completely revamp DME by developing an internally and externally consolidated branding with winning designs, to create a unique and market-ready brand identity.

Our diverse team of designers and marketers started by mapping out various strategies and designs that involved extended consultations with DME’s management, and in-house deliberations. First, we redesigned their logo using the letters ‘DME’. Simplicity was key — the last thing that a company looking to build brand recognition and momentum needs is a logo that doesn’t expressly say its name.

We then took it a step further by fitting the medical cross in the letter E; both for aesthetic effect and to explicitly indicate the company’s status as a player in the medical services industry, bringing simplicity, and structure.

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Our work received high praise from the DME management as it was a key milestone in the execution of a fresh new brand identity that laid the groundwork for success. Only 4 weeks after the designs were published, DME reported a 29.3% increase in the order placements so much that they had to onboard more staff.

Tell your story

One sure-fire way to make a good impression as a hospital brand is to tell stories. Stories create an honest, emotional bridge between you and your target audience.

As a healthcare brand, consumer trust is your most valuable asset and storytelling is a powerful way to build that. By using stories in your branding, you can get your audience to trust your expertise because you engagingly provide valuable clinical information to them.

Engulf your audience in a story that relays to them, what made you start your healthcare organization. What positive change you seek to drive and the experiences leading up to this decision. Massachusetts General Hospital, for instance, makes use of a story recording booth to collate stories by patients about how the hospital is helping them live a meaningful life with their health conditions.

Show your target audience how previous patients have gotten solutions to common medical problems in your care institution or how dangerous it can be to ignore these issues and watch your patient acquisition rates skyrocket.

With the help of a professional branding agency, you can formulate content that somehow communicates your hospital brand’s message in a way that can be understood by laymen, giving your audience relatable content that inspires them to take action.

An excellent case-in-point of how storytelling can be incorporated into healthcare branding is how the New York-Presbyterian Hospital included an “Amazing Stories” section on its website. The clinical center publishes heartwarming stories of how it has helped several patients from the perspective of the patient, through excellent clinical care and service delivery.

How’s this for effective brand storytelling: one of the stories published on the hospital’s website explains how its doctors expertly performed a series of surgeries (including a heart transplant!) to save the life of a young girl who had been born with only half a heart.

Be Different

Hospitals are, by design, extremely similar. They provide a similar system of services and have similar kinds of infrastructure. Even the physical structures look similar most of the time. The patients are bound to ask, “What does your hospital offer that others don’t?” and that’s the exactly question your brand design and strategy must look to answer.

Hospital administrators hoping for breakthroughs in hospital branding must find ways to highlight the unique differences of their hospital.

Established 30 years ago, Care Hospitals was a leading healthcare establishment in Allegheny, getting recommendations, referrals, and transferring patients from hospitals across the state.

Peter Wagner, the Medical Director of Care Hospitals in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania contacted us, when his hospital was in a tricky situation, he had been referred to us by a friend of his — a VP at a company that our agency had worked with in the past.

From March 2019, Peter began to notice a decline — Government funding and other donations began to decrease. After Peter’s (free) pre-development consultation with our expert team, we immediately swung into action, and our first step at rebranding the hospital was to redesign its logo and tagline.

We came up with a stylized version of the word “care” and then included the medical cross to indicate that it’s a hospital. The tagline “quality you can always trust”, emphasizes the sophisticated system of clinical care and credibility that the hospital had developed over the course of its 30 years of operation.

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However, what really made this project a resounding success was the story-telling. It took deep commercial understanding for our designers and marketers to tell that it was not just enough to piggyback on a brand campaign, since most of the people in the area already knew the hospital anyway.

We compiled stories from patients, video interviews in fact, outlining their experiences at the hospital and their opinions about the staff. Then, our expert team went to work on these stories, highlighting high points that indicate a unique feature of the hospital. These were then paired with just the right soundtrack. The result was a sublime video that promoted the hospital’s best features using true, good-to-honest stories.

Not only did our award-winning agency help Care hospital’s patient enrollment get back on track, they also recorded a 25% increase in private donations, and finally, they received a nomination for the annual Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals Award.

Strategies That Make Hospital Branding Successful

We’ve designed an effective system that has helped many hospitals (and indeed businesses in other sectors) to zhuzh up their branding; and in our experience, specific strategies just work for healthcare businesses. They’ve been market-tested many times and have never failed to yield impressive results.

Below are a few of such strategies for hospital brands:

Monitor your online reputation

Good hospital branding involves controlling the online discourse surrounding your hospital brand by posting valuable content and publicizing positive stories about your brand on your medical institution’s website.

Also, it’s important to effectively manage the negative reviews of your hospital’s brand and provide reprieve to complaints as fast as possible. This would go a long way in helping you to build a positive reputation. Cleveland Clinic does this admirably, and their online reputation managament has yielded an exceptional brand image with a review score of 97.4%.

Strategic content creation

Strategic internet content creation is the heart of branding. With well-designed, timely content that appeals to the emotions of your audience, you can command traffic to your hospital brand’s website, and to your hospital by extension.

Amplifying your online presence across various media touchpoints helps you to reach a wide audience and to get them familiar with your brand. We all know how brand familiarity drives positive purchase decisions.

In other words, providing people with valuable information across various online channels is a time-tested branding strategy that has helped numerous healthcare concerns to worm their way into the forefront of the audience’s awareness. Mayo Clinic and WebMD, for example, have both consistently been the most reliable source of clinical information for people over the years, and have become very reputable.

The being said, although content creation is part of the process of branding your hospital, the content you create should be centered around helping the consumer first, not marketing your services.

Why? Because people are always likely to get on the defensive once they sense that they’re being pitched to. Of course, we all know that businesses don’t just create online content for purely altruistic purposes. But, the most effective way to capture your audience’s attention is to proffer useful information first.

This creates the impression that you genuinely care about their welfare, allowing them to relax and become somewhat more receptive. This way, by the time they read your call-to-action phrases — strategically placed toward the end of the content — like, “Call now to book an appointment” or “Contact us to learn more!”, they will be more likely to actually follow through.

Keep in touch with your patients

Everyone loves that nice doctor who finds the time to send them an email a few times a month, giving them tips or information related to their diagnosis. And thankfully, this is done very easily these days, with the various email automation systems and related tools on the market.

When your company makes it a point to keep in touch with patients, it removes the distasteful, impersonal feeling that many patients complain about, and lets them know that you care about their well-being even outside the four walls of the hospital.

This positive feeling towards your hospital can inspire brand loyalty in them, with the added advantage of organic referrals. The University of Tokyo Hospital serves a worthy reminder of how little acts like this cover quite the distance in the hearts of patients, securing their lifelong customer loyalty.

Be consistent with your branding efforts

Brand awareness goes beyond the level of creation. You need to stay consistent. The average person is daily inundated with tens of internet content; from social media posts to emails in their inboxes. It’s humanly impossible for them to keep track of all of them.

However, by maintaining a certain level of consistency in your branding, you can create a more permanent image in the minds of your audience, increasing your chances of converting them into paying customers. You want to start by having clear-cut conversations about critical details that will make your hospital instantly recognizable and memorable.

A consensus about these details — your messaging, your brand’s voice and tone, color pallete, logo, fonts, and other graphical elements of your visual identity should be reached. The agreed set of information about how your hospital’s corporate identity should be presented should then inform a brand guideline that will be used across all marketing channels and touchpoints (of interaction) you share with your patients.

Track the success of your brand marketing strategies

If you employ the market-tested design branding strategies that we have listed in this article, there’s a good chance you will see great results.

However, some strategies may work better than others due to operational differences. In such situations, how do you determine the brand marketing strategies that work well for your hospital and the ones that don’t?

The answer lies in tracking your branding strategies effectively. A common way hospitals do this is by casually asking consumers to fill in questionnaires that contain questions like ‘How did you get to know about this hospital?’ and ‘What do you think about the quality of our services?’.

Another way you can track your hospital’s branding strategy is by attaching unique contact information to each branding and marketing touchpoint; thereby creating a system where every new patient can be traced to the exact brand marketing pathways by which they came in.

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Wrap Up

It’s the age of technology, and now more than ever, people (or patients) live a sedentary lifestyle, which means that they stay a lot in their comfort zone, playing video games, working from home without much movement. There is a surge in inactivity that almost inevitably means humans are now more prone to health conditions that require clinical attention.

Unlike the last decade where patients would visit hospitals that were chosen by their health insurance providers and called it a day. Others that, for one reason or the other, didn’t have health insurance simply went to the closest hospitals at the slightest discomfort, there are no other options.

People now undergo checkups on websites by online physicians and enroll in virtual (faceless) one-on-one clinical consultations from platforms like Lemonaid Primary Care Complete who offers comprehensive and tailor-made health care solutions for individuals and families. Word of mouth referrals have taken the priority when considering whose health services to patronize, and patients are now armed with more knowledge from the internet (customer review.)

What do all of these mean? Branding now plays an important role in the decision-making process of any patient as it influences their perception, and this is why you want to leave your hospital branding to only a professional branding agency to handle for you.

We understand that you may not fully understand some of the concepts that we have discussed here; considering how far outside the scope of your profession they are. Even better, when it’s time to take positive action with a branding strategy, you need a specially built partnership with a branding agency that is tailor-made for your hospital’s commercial needs.

Whether general brainstorming or the added night shift, our team of experts will stop at nothing to bring your hospital brand alive.

So, if you have any questions or inquiries, why don’t you contact our expert team right away? Fill out the project brief here and let us come up with a winning design and tailor-made strategy for your specific project as soon as possible (it’s free).