Many health care marketing and communication professionals recognize the value of a strong and well-functioning brand. However, in some organizations the symptoms of a “sick” brand can go unnoticed for too long and cause damage to brand value.
Savvy marketers know to look for certain telltale signs that indicate when a brand might be in trouble and in need of corrective action. Being aware of these symptoms can help identity the root cause of some branding ailments that could be plaguing an organization’s culture, employee engagement, and customer experience.
Here are five symptoms to guide you in diagnosing if your brand is treading dangerously close to the unhealthy range, and what you can do to get it on the road to recovery:
1. Your brand is not aligned with current consumer expectations
Increasingly, consumers have more choice in health care decisions. And their choices are being influenced by expectations of service and quality they have from dealing with non-health care companies. Anytime/anywhere availability, price transparency, personalized options, and extraordinary customer experiences—once hallmarks of leading retail organizations such as Apple and Nordstrom—are beginning to be expected by consumers. Consumers are demanding that health care be more accessible, convenient, and personalized. To keep in front of the retailization of health care, brands must understand consumer expectations and be able to deliver on them.
2. Your brand is not in tune with the changing media landscape
Social media, online reviews, and social news sources have changed the way audiences consume and exchange information. Nearly seventy percent of Millennials get their news through social media and social news websites like Reddit are hugely popular amongst the Y Generation. Review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades create platforms for consumer feedback with very little influence from PR professionals. This means brands must strive to be more transparent because every existing and former customer or patient has access to tell the world their personal journeys and experiences, good or bad, with a brand.
3. Your brand is inconsistently experienced at various consumer touch points
Patients care mostly about their experience. If your patient experiences inconsistencies during the many stages of their customer journey, you run the risk of diluting your brand promise, thereby losing trust. As an example, a brand may use social media messaging to push the idea of easy access or uncomplicated access to care. However, if a customer is unable to reach a specific department due to an automated and complicated telephone network, or if they cannot find a location in your hospital due to poor signage, it is unlikely they will view your brand as accessible or easy to navigate, no matter what your messaging says.
4. Your brand does not reflect the current mission or strategy of your organization
As your health care organization evolves, it is important your brand keep up. Many organizations develop a brand and then fail to re-examine it despite changes in size, scope, marketplace, or consumer sentiment. You don’t want your brand to get left behind as your organization grows, therefore when your mission or strategy changes, or if you experience a merger or acquisition, your brand should be reexamined and continually burnished to maintain resonance.
5. Employees are not engaged in living your brand
One of the keys to your health care brand’s success is your employees. They are the public face of your organization; therefore, they must understand the brand, and be able to actively and consistently deliver on the brand promise. A brand can showcase its human-centric, high-touch service in an advertisement, but if a doctor is late or abrasive, there is a disconnect between the brand promise and brand delivery. Health care organizations that have not engaged their employees as true brand ambassadors will never be able to deliver on their brand promise.
For those of you who will be attending the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit, taking place on April 13-15 in Las Vegas, we are offering a 30-minute consultation with our experienced strategists and creative thinkers to provide you with solutions to your most pressing brand challenges. There are only seven sessions available, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to get strategic and tactical advice that you can implement immediately. Sign up here for the Brand Clinic.
For more information on health care branding visit our website.
Kim Hofland is Monigle’s Senior Marketing Director and one of our health care branding experts.