|Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay|
Last week’s Lessons from the Field post was about the hospital brand promise asking basically, what is it. An exciting number of discussions ensued. Except for a few notable hospitals and healthcare systems, the conclusion was that hospitals might not have a complete understanding of their brand promise to patients. Most may not even be able to define the brand promise.
During those discussions, I took a step back and asked what the hospital brand is? Suppose you cannot articulate clearly and succinctly what the hospital brand promises are. In that case, the chances are excellent that the hospital and its employees do not know what the hospital brand is.
Hint, it’s not the logo and tagline.
|Image by Andreaooi from Pixabay|
Though the hospital logo and tagline should graphically communicate the core brand as best as possible, that is not the hospital brand. In hospitals and other providers, the non-marketing professionals, from leadership to employees, usually think that is the brand. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.
Why is defining your brand important?
|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
Because the patient and community deserve nothing less than to know what the hospital brand and brand promise are. Your employees, volunteers, and donors as brand ambassadors have a vital need to understand the hospital brand. A highly undifferentiated market, which hospitals have managed to create for themselves over the years, directly impacts utilization and revenue. There is a greater need to attract and retain patients. The shifting requirements of a changing competitive landscape. The need To grow and maintain payer relationships.
After all the hundreds of millions of dollars that hospitals have spent on marketing over the years, it still amazes me that too many hospitals are unable to define their brand or brand promise.
All hospitals are the same. Period.
I think, from a patient perspective, it can be summed up by, “A hospital, is a hospital is a hospital, is a hospital.” There is little differentiation among hospitals with medical staff, technology, facilities, locations, medical services, or any other dimension you can consider.
In a situation like that, defining the hospital brand takes on new urgency as hospitals could be standing at the brink of commoditization where patients make choices based on price for standard services.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic changed everything.
|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
This brings us to changes in regulations, such as searchable hospital prices for common procedures, the adaption of telemedicine by patients, and the rapid innovation in access to and care delivery adopted by patients.
What was the market for hospital services 18 months ago might as well be considered the ancient past. That is how fast the COVID-19 changed the demand for hospital services. In that light, the hospital brand now takes on added importance, impact, and meaning. No longer can brand differentiation be left to a haphazard approach. The hospital employees, physicians, volunteers, Board, patients, and community know what the hospital brand is or they do not.
A test for the hospital.
|Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay|
Using the Rule of Three, define the following for each section:
1. What are the three reasons patients started looking for you?
2. What are the first three places patients go for information?
3. What are the top three things you believe that patients already know about you?
4. What are the three most impactful aspects of what do?
5. What are the three relevant things that your patients might like better according to your competitors?
6. What are the three most important things about your hospital?
Now take the information and distill it down to three brand words representing the hospital.
XYZ Hospital = _________+_________+ _________
Not so easy, eh?
Patients and the community will only remember three things about the hospital and its brand. You can define your brand and gain some differentiation from competitors, or you can take your chances and let the patient, community, and competitors define the hospital brand for you.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at email@example.com.
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The opinions expressed are my own.