Award-Winning Branding Blog

Hospital Branding

Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy is pleased to present to you our award-winning blog on hospital branding. As an innovative branding and communications firm with clients ranging from leading health systems to medical associations, we are constantly thinking and writing about many of the latest trends and forces impacting healthcare organizations.

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Lessons from the Shark Tank for Healthcare Marketers

Lessons from the Shark Tank for Healthcare Marketers

I had the pleasure to present at the SHSMD Connections conference in Seattle a few weeks ago.  My co-presenter, and fellow disruptor, Paul Szablowski and I were thrilled to see a full house for our session, as healthcare marketers were eager to learn business lessons from the hit reality television show “Shark Tank.”  And, at a time when marketers are under constant scrutiny from their CEO’s to demonstrate value and Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI), walking into a shark tank each time budgeting and annual planning rolls around is all too much a reality. Here’s a recap of our presentation, “Lessons from the Shark Tank.”  If it leaves you swimming with questions or additional thoughts, I look forward to hearing from you. The Waters are Murky for Marketers Marketers in all industries are facing intense pressure to perform for their organization.  Many studies suggest that there is definitely a realignment needed between the C-Suite and marketing department in terms of expectations, accountability, and responsibilities.  Nearly three quarters of CEO’s want their marketing department to focus on growth goals and new customer acquisition, and the same percentage of marketers believe their jobs are not designed to let them achieve this for their organizations. Perhaps this is why the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer is only four years – the shortest length of any position in the C-Suite. Another reason is that marketers have focused too much on “marketing” and not enough on growth goals.  So before walking into your “shark tank,” this mindset  has to shift or you’ll be quick to sink in your organization. Lesson 1:  Know... read more
How Social Media Can Benefit Your Healthcare Marketing

How Social Media Can Benefit Your Healthcare Marketing

Today, there are over 3 billion worldwide social media users, and almost 9 out of 10 companies in the United States are using social media for their marketing.  Social media is no longer a place for friends and family to stay in touch or to connect with others.  It’s where people can stay up-to-date with news and current events. Specifically, in the healthcare industry, social media plays a large role.  It can help providers engage with patients, connect with other healthcare providers and companies, and create awareness to the public of relevant and timely information in the industry. Engage with Patients According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 74% of internet users engage on social media.  About 80% of those internet users specifically look for health-related information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional. Patients want the most reliable information possible when searching for information about their health.  Because of a doctor’s knowledge and expertise, about 60% of users say they trust a doctor’s post over a company’s post. Connect with Other Healthcare Providers and Companies Social media connects doctors and physicians to other companies and keeps them up-to-date on the latest medical developments, technology, minimally invasive treatments and more.  About 88% of physicians use social media to research pharmaceuticals, biotech and medical devices. Create Awareness to the Public About 32% of internet users post about their friends and family’s health experiences on social media.  When it comes to health-decision making, people gravitate towards providers who have treated related or experienced similar situations.  Patients care about other patients and they... read more
B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

Many years ago, when I was on the client side of B2B marketing fence, our messaging beat its chest about how our product was bigger, better, faster, stronger and could make our customers more money. Years later, after time on the agency side of both B2B and B2C marketing, we’re seeing a massive shift in how B2B buyers at various levels need to be engaged. Sure, there’s a procurement officer that’s all about specs and cost, but we’re assuming you’d like to move up the chain a bit. Consider this B2B value pyramid from a Bain & Company study earlier this year. This illustrates from the bottom of the pyramid to the tip top:   The bottom of the pyramid – where many B2B marketers stop. This is where no one wants to be – it’s commodity-land. Living on specs and price will not keep you in business. Neither will simply addressing your buyer’s economic or performance needs with features and functions. As someone recently told us, don’t talk to me about the horsepower and the convertible top – tell me how cool I look driving that car…   The middle of the pyramid – where sustainable and valuable relationships begin. Here, your messaging is centered around benefits that are important to the buyer and enhance their subjective judgments about your product or service. Attributes like decreasing hassles and your expertise help you form this relationship.   The top of the pyramid – deepen your relationship by engaging with a heartbeat message that speaks to personal and career related priorities. Your work here requires empathy and establishes trust –... read more
5 Great Marketing Strategies for Medical Practice Growth

5 Great Marketing Strategies for Medical Practice Growth

The best healthcare marketing strategies, offline, online, traditional and new media all have to work together to reach, motivate, and engage healthcare consumers. In order reach and motivate your target audiences to choose you over another practice, your brand needs a “heartbeat.” A heartbeat creates an emotional statement about your organization. A promise to the marketplace that focuses on the benefits consumers will gain by becoming a patient of your practice. Whether yours is a large medical practice or small physician office, it’s important to ask yourself the following on a regular basis: Does your strategy deliver on your customers’ expectations? Is your brand’s messaging delivering on that strategy? Is your creative really breaking through? What’s the competition up to? Working to develop your brand’s heartbeat, and a strategy to address all of these things is crucial to creating a creative and compelling message that will engage your specific target audiences. The next goal of your brand should be to meet your key audiences’ interests, needs and passions, and creating and executing a tactical plan to reach those audiences. Below are some strategies for taking this next step – Offline/Traditional Offline marketing, also referred to as traditional marketing, includes such things as radio, television, billboards, print collateral and direct mail, among others. These can be considered antiquated and ineffective but should still be considered as part of an overall, integrated marketing plan. There’s a reason you see so many healthcare/pharmaceutical ads on TV and receive so many special offers via the mail. For the right demographics and with the right strategy behind them, they still work. Especially when combined... read more
Healthcare Brands Require Strong Internal Engagement

Healthcare Brands Require Strong Internal Engagement

Whether a hospital system, specialty practice, medical association, or device company, healthcare brands will only thrive with strong internal engagement. This is especially important with the rapid consolidation in the healthcare industry today. For providers, where referrals among medical staff members and sub-specialties make or break the system, engagement is paramount. When we conduct focus groups with internal teams at leading health systems, most employees do not know the “5 W’s and H” within their own organization; “who it consists of,” “what’s expected of them,” “why should they care,” “where they should refer,” “when,” and “how.” As a result, organizations experience great leakage of patients, and revenue. Communications strategies help address many of the unknowns. Internal campaigns including brand overviews, videos, books, and other tactics can explain the size and scope of the organization. Of course, graphic standards manuals are essential in terms of presenting the brand in a consistent and unified manner, no matter which architecture strategy is being developed. Online tools and staff profiles will also help facilitate referrals from one practice to another or among sub-specialties. Most healthcare professionals understand “when” referrals should be made, although soft reminders are sometimes needed for family physicians who would rather treat their patient rather than “lose” them to a referral. Key here is to develop protocols which ensure the primary care provider gets their patient back after specialty procedures or consultations are performed. That takes care of most of the W’s and H. Let’s focus on the “why.” Really(!?), employees have to be told why they need to care about keeping patients within the health system? Unfortunately, they do.... read more
Can you write a healthcare ad without using the seven “deadly” words?

Can you write a healthcare ad without using the seven “deadly” words?

George Carlin will always be remembered as an original with many great comedic acts, but his “seven deadly words” bit (what you can’t say on network television, back then…) is a classic. Under this theme, branding expert Paul Szablowski (former Senior V.P., Brand Engagement of Texas Health Resources, CHW, etc.) and I teamed up on an article of a similar title for a popular healthcare marketing publication. It’s been about ten years since it was published, but that article generated more talk value than any I’ve received since. The article was about the seven “deadly” words you shouldn’t use in hospital advertising because they make little sense to consumers and are non-differentiating for the brand. After attending a recent healthcare advertising trade show and competition, I am prompted to again write about these words and why hospital marketers should not be using them. Because I heard a lot of them! Okay, here’s the list: Interdisciplinary – Ask ten consumers on the street what this means to them and their health and you’ll quickly understand why it’s a waste of space and benefit. Other like words that don’t officially make the list, but should, include continuum, integrated, and coordinated. World-class – technically two words, but often used as one thought in healthcare. After a decade, there is still no need nor regulatory act to substantiate such claims and as a result even a two-bed hospital in you know where, can claim to be “world class.” By the way, in case you’re looking to be less global and more local, “nationally-recognized” doesn’t do it, either. Quality – okay healthcare folks, it’s... read more
Why some brand identities make you cringe

Why some brand identities make you cringe

When you stop for a brief moment, and let’s face it – a very brief moment, to look at a brand identity, there are some that make you nod approval and others that make you cringe. You know, that look on your face when nose and lips almost meet and your eyes squint. What makes a brand identity cringe-worthy? Why can’t they all be simple and powerful like Apple, Nike, and FedEx; each telling a story well beyond the icon or tagline. After studying and creating various identities over the years, here’s a quick list of some reasons brand identities might make you cringe: What is that? – These are the brand identities that you can’t even identify. They contain strange symbols, layers of “brand” elements, and iconic images that only a client would love. Typically, these are client-led ideas that nobody had the guts to say, “this looks like guts.” The remedy – listen to what the client meant, not what they said. And translate into an identity accordingly. Size matters – Agency folks, especially art directors, for years have told tales about the client “wanting to make the logo bigger.” I’ve secretly sided with clients on this request because, after all, it’s important to know the brand anchor behind the ad, brochure, or other piece of communications you’re reading. Interesting that today, where digital media receives the majority of brand spend, identities are getting smaller and more difficult to read on social media posts, banners, and other applications. The remedy – brand identities need to be responsive (like websites) to adapt to the space that’s allotted. This means there needs to be flexibility built into graphic standards so... read more
Using Your Owned Audience to Conduct Healthcare Market Research

Using Your Owned Audience to Conduct Healthcare Market Research

You know the importance of having a social media presence. Staying relevant and continuing to show how your organization interacts in its community plays a large role in this digital era. Social media marketing for healthcare and hospital brands is at an all-time high, almost every system has a presence. But once you build your audience, what do you do with it? There are many opportunities, and one way to utilize it is for market research. Leaning on your owned audience for their opinions is just one way to benefit from engaging your followers. Whether you want consumer opinions though an online survey, or you want to recruit them for a focus group, once you have built up an owned audience, you can reach to them for information on many topics related to your healthcare brand. Online surveys are a cost-effective way to get information from those involved with your brand. Your social network is already familiar with you and your brand; therefore, they are more knowledgeable on what your brand offers and more willing to provide insight. Whether your hospital or healthcare brand is looking to capture market research or measure customer satisfaction, you can start with the followers on each of your social media channels. Once you develop a good list of questions, you can create a visually engaging social media post that will help ensure your post gets clicked on and drives consumers to your questionnaire. Springboard has been using these tactics and finding that in addition to a high click-thru rate, we also see a high completion rate from our followers vs. non-followers. In addition,... read more
Brand Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box

Brand Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box

The blue box has never been hotter. Sales and stock prices are at record highs and Tiffany appears to be soaring, even with some of the highest price points in the retail jewelry sector. The reason for this performance is that Tiffany is thinking outside its box and embracing new customers, lifestyles, and preferences with innovative products and open-armed service. Long regarded as a stodgy, conservative brand for those consumers who step right off a print advertisement, Tiffany has recognized that brands change at the speed of culture, and it was time for a different course. After 178 years in business, the company is recognizing that marriages are different as are household compositions and it’s paying off for them. One excellent example of this is Tiffany’s first advertising campaign targeting same-sex couples. A series of print ads is being introduced not only featuring these couples, but also showing traditional marriages which represent more than husband and wife. Today, there are kids and other family members involved and new messages and products are hitting that sweet spot. We talk about “Heartbeat Branding” at Springboard. Tiffany is doing just that. They have found the “sweeter spot” at the intersection of brand benefits, consumer needs, and cultural influences. Their brand attributes include excellence and elegance. Their consumers want excitement and commitment. Cultural influences include new marriages, household composition and a stronger economy. Mix it all together and they’ve hit the “Heartbeat” of their brand. Branding today is about heartbeat, not chest beat. Tiffany is one example of making your brand super relevant. Brands that are looking for their heartbeat need to think... read more
Creating a Heartbeat Brand Requires Knowing Your Audience in New, Relevant Ways

Creating a Heartbeat Brand Requires Knowing Your Audience in New, Relevant Ways

Most research studies provide excellent insights into your brand.  For example, knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions people have of your brand, their intent to use, and likelihood to recommend.  In addition, there’s data collected on who replied to the survey; gender, age, income, etc.  Yes, this tells you about what people think of your brand, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the people who use it, or want to use it.  Creating the highest level of relevance with your brand requires knowing more about the people you’re targeting than has been customary.  Just like in good advertising practices, it’s about them – not you.  A heartbeat brand is one that appeals to the interests, lifestyle, visions and dreams of your audience.  Use your market research to help you understand these traits so your brand can be more effectively positioned and modified to meet their needs. There should be a section within your questionnaire that asks people about what matters most in their lives.  How they spend their time, activities they enjoy, hobbies they pursue, etc. Armed with this information, you can begin to reflect these passions and interests in your brand communications.  Images become more than design background, they become eye-catching relevant scenarios in which your audience sees themselves and how their life intersects with your brand, not the other way around. Knowing your audience in new, relevant ways will help you create positioning and messaging platforms that break through and become noticed.  Why?  Because you’ve captured the essence of what’s most important to people you’re trying to influence, not trying to influence them with your brand... read more
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