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3 Questions That Can Keep Your Healthcare Brand Out of the ICU

A brand has intrinsic meaning that extends beyond products or services. It represents different things to different people. Building a healthcare brand in this highly competitive industry can be a challenge considering that the average consumer is exposed to around 5,000 brand messages every day.

Supporting multiple brands and sub-brands will only serve to further frustrate and confuse your target audiences. Focus your efforts on building lasting connections with a single meaningful brand. It’s not a quantity game. It’s critical for your brand to stay focused and consistently deliver on your one promise.

In the healthcare field, brands and sub-brands tend to multiply like a virus. Health organizations have the duty to balance the brands of their doctors, specialties and disciplines. While this problem isn’t exclusive to this industry, a unique set of challenges is presented in the healthcare arena. As a result, we have created 3 questions that could identify whether the strength of your brand is being diluted.

#1: Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?

Like the human body, every company within the healthcare industry is a complex system made up of interconnected parts. The interdependent nature of a successful business also creates a significant challenge when it comes to building strong brands.

For example, a hospital or health system attempting to build equity in its brand is inevitably conflicted when it comes to communicating a specific medical service such as cardiovascular care, pediatrics or oncology. There is a temptation to create a brand around the specialty service because its offerings differ so distinctly from other centers in the hospital. This, in turn, leads to the creation of new brands for every unique medical service with a different brand message, tone and look.

This same example holds true in a medical equipment manufacturing company where the corporate brand and business divisions, such as surgical, dental and orthodontics, may be competing with one another for attention. It’s important to ask the following questions:

  • What value are you creating with each brand?
  • Does each of these brands allow for a long-term, emotional attachment?

Even when the answer is yes, every brand still needs to work together so that you’re building strong connections rather than fragmented, one-off transactions.

#2: Should it be a brand?

One good measure of a strong brand is customers’ believing that there is no substitute for a particular product, service or organization. Some classic examples include Ikea, Disney and Apple. Great healthcare brands are similar in how they focus on which brand they’re ultimately going to build equity in.

The challenge is determining whether or not a product, service or organization should be building its own brand or supporting a larger effort. There are numerous examples of “brands gone wild” where every component, technology and service is branded, to the ultimate detriment and confusion of the customer.

A great exercise is to identify all of your company’s brands and then ask these five questions:

  1. How many are there?
  2. How do these brands relate to each other?
  3. What is the awareness level for each brand with your patients?
  4. Do your customers use that brand name when talking about your product or service?
  5. How many resources are dedicated to supporting each of those brands?

Having these conversations with your marketing and sales teams often illuminates the potential for synergies or other changes based on the way your customers experience your brands.

#3: Whose brand is it anyway?

Now that you’ve addressed some of the potential challenges facing the brands of your company or hospital, consider another frequently uncontrollable challenge: brand advocates within your organization are also trying to build their own brands with customers, often through word of mouth or online.

You likely cannot persuade your brand advocates to give up on building their personal brands. In fact, it’s often to your benefit that they have strong relationships with your customers that are built on trust. The goal is then to anticipate the impact that these outside forces have on your main brand, embrace them and then maximize the opportunity to support them.

hfa has learned the importance of critically evaluating a healthcare organization’s brand portfolio. Through this evaluation we create a brand architecture framework that establishes which brand to showcase and how the others best work together. We will support your brands by developing plans that address each challenge ahead and build brand value.

“We’re constantly evaluating and monitoring our client’s brands as well as their competition. We help to ensure that brand identity is being built in the most focused, relevant and engaging way possible. These meaningful emotional connections are what will make your brand stand out,” says Maggie Harris, hfa Partner/Client Services.