There was a time in the early to mid-80s when primary care was the predominant form of health care. The physician providing primary health care was acquainted with the patient & his family’s complete health history, he would help the patients with routine check-ups, provide healthy lifestyle suggestions & disease-prevention tips. With the evolution of healthcare segment, there are thousands & lakhs of hospitals giving health care services - From players belonging to public & private sectors. Keeping aside the degrees of variation in the offerings from each hospital, every healthcare provider looks the same to non-specialists!
Although widely categorised as a service sector, the hospitals still face competition. To stand out and convince the onlookers & the stakeholders likewise, the healthcare companies today, need to have a robust reach out plan.
In this blog, we list out five reasons why branding is essential for healthcare.
We say, there is so much to a name! The name of a brand is as important as the brand function itself. Every hospital is built with a distinct vision & mission, a set of values, ideologies & ethics. A name is the face of the brand; every attribute of the brand is linked to its name; it is implicitly the ‘identity’ of the brand, it creates familiarity with the brand. Margot Bushnaq of BrandBucket says, “A catchy unique name helps customers remember the brand name; the shorter & easier it is to spell, it is better.
In New York, North Shore-LIJ Healthcare System had a densely worded moniker, which turned a tongue twister to the most seasoned speakers & local politicians! With fierce competition in the industry & consumers & other stakeholders facing uncertainty & confusion, the hospital took to rebranding their entire persona. "You can't be silent—if you are, you're defined by silence. We needed to package the definition of who I am and build a destination healthcare brand so that before the injury or illness, you know you're coming to me" – Ramon Soto, Senior VP, Marketing. Finally, after scouting & scouring for weeks, they zeroed in on ‘Northwell’, a name chosen for its approachability & common language.
Logo design & philosophy are inseparable elements of a brand. The name & the logo go hand-in-hand. A logo is a summation of all the values, ideologies & core theme of an organisation brought into one single graphic. A logo needs to emotionally reach out to the target market. The colours & other elements in the logo need to make the hospital look patient-friendly & approachable. The brand identity should strongly convey the strengths to impact the brand perception.
BR Life, a healthcare brand, has a chain of hospitals around the globe. Their logo elements signify their core values including trust, hope, integrity, trust, belief, humanity & community welfare. A gradient of green indicating freshness & healing and a gradient of blue indicating trust, security & confidence have been coherently connected & used. Further, two hands holding a human suggests the willingness to safeguard the person against ailments.
A brand guidelines document which defines the brand fonts & typography, colours, design elements, application etc. is crucial. It helps maintain consistency across the media which in a big way adds to brand perception & positioning.
The National Accreditation Boards for Healthcare - NABH & NABL establish a common framework for healthcare organisations to demonstrate & practice compliance with patient safety protocols. It lays down 600+ things for the hospital to achieve the accreditation. Physical branding being one of the essential elements for patient safety in healthcare, strict adherence to these norms is mandatory.
Apart from physical branding, i.e. the overall look & feel of the hospital, right branding across various mediums to showcase how you stand out in the industry; to attract and retain top talent – including the healthcare staff & doctors, to build trust, to reassure the stakeholders, and to elevate the brand perception, create relevance for brand positioning.
Public Relations in the current age has become a necessity. The brand promise is sent out to the target audience in so many ways; also, at the time of any crisis, PR springs into action and saves a brand & maintains customer loyalty.
For instance, Rainbow Children’s Hospital is a dedicated paediatric care hospital based out of Hyderabad. It refers to the rays of happiness they can spread through the tertiary care elements for children. The hospital with its branches in Karnataka & other states creates an environment of glee inside its campus. On entering the hospital, you can see an expansive area for the kids to move around, bright coloured walls, dedicated play area, kids franchise store and so much more. The hospital has also been continually running brand campaigns, press conferences, TV & print ads to build relationships with the stakeholders and to stick to its established brand position.
Although this could have been a part of ‘branding norms’, we have made this a separate point due to its significance. According to a survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 72% of the users have said that they look online for health information. A Health Management Academy Survey indicates 50% participants were influenced by social media while choosing healthcare services, 66% people used hospital websites to learn about the facilities, doctors and other information. Online media, social media, in particular, allows hospitals to engage with the people through various communities, forums, videos, constant enquiries & feedback from the patients and their families, healthcare tips etc.
All in all, a hospital, at the end of the day is a brand which needs to create a positive brand experience for its patients, providers & even the payors. Of course, branding alone cannot fetch the desired results; it is only a component of building trust and relationship with the customers.