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.

Follow our hospital branding blog and learn from the lessons of others in the areas of social media, brand building, advertising, integrated marketing, and strategic thinking.

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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” “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. Especially in terms of presenting healthcare brands 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.  However, soft reminders are sometimes needed for family physicians who would rather treat their patient than “lose” them to a referral. Key here is to develop protocols.  These 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. It’s... 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 ad / 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 different... 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 healthcare market research. Leaning on your owned audience for their opinions is just one way to benefit from engaging your followers. Conducting Healthcare Market Research 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 a high click-thru rate.  In addition, we also see a high completion rate from our followers vs.... 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 also 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 do they feature these couples, but are 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. Heartbeat Branding 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 also 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... 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.  However, 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. 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 message. Contact us today to learn more about your heartbeat... read more

Putting Strategy in Your Content | Marketing & Advertising

How savvy healthcare marketers are using content to more effectively tell their brand’s stories to engage, attract and retain customers. We all understand that the benefits of content marketing help build awareness, authority and trust for your brand in a way that helps your audiences make decisions and take action. And we also get that Google values fresh and original writing, leading to better SEO and more visitors to your website. But how do you put an actionable strategy behind everything you create? The roadmap goes like this:  Plan, Create, Distribute, Measure, Optimize, and Repeat. Plan First, understand the marketing purpose of everything you produce is to support your organizations strategic objectives – make sure your content strategy is on sync with them and generate content that’s aligned. Planning also includes the following: Your target audiences – their needs, wants and desires Your organization’s point-of-view – to uniquely carve out your niche The specific themes, causes or initiatives that support the goals of your organization This is also the time to identify your sources – service line directors, physicians and other influencers in your organization that will help generate ideas, vet and approve any clinical language. Create Use the insights from your sources to create content that’s original, specific to your organization, and unique for Google. Even more, ensure it aligns with your strategic objectives. This can take many forms, but as with most of the marketing communications produced now – think mobile first. Other creative considerations should include: Selecting the most appropriate platforms, including the following: Web, blogs, online videos, Facebook Live events, social media posts and ads,... read more

5 New Success Factors for Your Healthcare Website

Your healthcare website is the hub of your digital marketing strategy.  It is the place where patients, members and influencers want to learn more about your organization.  While many medical product and service companies have an online presence, they don’t think of search engine optimization (SEO) while building it or even after the site’s been developed to maintain it.  A website can look great, but if it’s not built for SEO, no one will be able to find you. Follow these 5 important factors to make your website more successful, including design and development, and what to do once the website is live. Simple is better, especially for healthcare brands. Before you get started with a new website, first define your goals. What do you want your visitors to see and what do you want them to do? This all contributes to the design of your new site.  Not everything can stand out.  Highlight a few things that sets you apart from your competitors and make those stand out on your homepage.  If visitors want more information, then they can click through the inside pages of your site to learn more. Keep in mind, if your website is too cluttered or looks confusing, it overwhelms your visitors. They may end up leaving your site because they can’t find what they are looking for. Also, your site should be optimized for conversions.  How do you want to measure success? Make sure you have that clear call-to-action. Built for quality. Many people can build a website but it’s how you build it that matters.  When people think of search engine optimization... read more
3 Steps to Write a Medical Association’s Value Proposition

3 Steps to Write a Medical Association’s Value Proposition

According to Deepak Chopra in his bestselling book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, “How can I help?” is the only question that truly matters. “It coaxes and expands your awareness out toward the service and care of others.” Many medical associations struggle with articulating an effective value proposition that helps their members expand awareness and services. Establishing this in clear and compelling manner is an essential step if you want to communicate how your organization can provide the keys to your members’ success. There are some important steps you must take before embarking upon creating your medical association’s value proposition. It all begins and ends with research. So where do you start? Here’s a brief 3-step plan for medical associations. 1. Refine your target audience First and foremost, you need to determine who your “key” target audience is. You can’t be “all things” to “all people.” Many have tried, and failed. But by clearly defining and refining your true core audience, you can be all the right things to the right people. It’d be easy for medical associations to assume that their target audience is “anyone in a certain specialty and/or those who use those particular services.” But having such a wide audience would make it nearly impossible to tailor its strategy to specific types of individuals for specific purposes. The key to success here is knowing who to target, and why. The increased focus and definition will result in a much more effective strategy. 2. Be the go-to organization for the value you provide in the industry you serve When thinking about the opportunity you provide to that core audience,... read more
“Conquesting” New Patients in Healthcare Marketing

“Conquesting” New Patients in Healthcare Marketing

You probably already have ads out there targeting specific populations based on demographics to promote awareness of your hospital and attract new patients.  Now, let’s take it to the next level and apply that marketing strategy with location.  What if you could target your competitors’ patients and feed them ads about the benefits of switching to healthcare providers or services at your hospital?  Sounds cool, right? Picture this.  A patient is sitting in the ER waiting room at a nearby hospital, anticipating his turn to be seen.  To pass the time, he plays games on his smartphone, looks at his social media feeds, and browses various websites.  An ad pops up promoting your hospital, specifically the short wait times in the E.R.  The patient doesn’t have to think twice about what he should do.  He packs up and makes the trip across town to your hospital for that faster service. Geo-Conquesting Location-based mobile advertising, called geo-conquesting, allows you to specifically target potential patients who are physically located at your competitor’s location.  On average, smartphone users are on their phones more than 150 times a day – making it an easy way to also reach consumers who are interested in the services you offer. With geo-conquesting, you set a virtual perimeter around competitor hospitals, clinics or health centers.  This allows you to target ads to smartphone users who enter within the set perimeter.  Remember, you need to give patients a valid reason to leave your competitor.  Whether you are promoting exercise classes, parenting education courses, webinars or simply wanting to increase volume with new patients, geo-conquesting can help reach people... read more
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