Branding in healthcare organizations is still predominantly associated with how and where consumers see your brand. It could be digitally, on traditional media, or your brand architecture displayed on signs and buildings. But the total brand experience goes well below “see” level and must immerse your stakeholders in order to drive preference and create consumer loyalty. The emergence of immersive marketing and its impact on brand value has caused marketers to recognize the value of being sensory driven as much as data driven. The Huffington Post recently surveyed 1,600 companies and learned that 84% believe that experiential marketing activities and events are important, or very important to their organizations. One of the companies that responded added, “people are inherently social, and there is nothing that can make a more powerful statement about your brand than the ability to bring people together physically through immersive events and experiences.”
Big brands have responded to this shift and have used abundant layers of creativity to design experiences that engage and stimulate the senses. Nike is best known for store kiosks allowing consumers to design their own shoes. Sonos used color and animation to illustrate the mood of a room with music playing through its speakers. Harrods launched a toy kingdom in London that engages visitors with “sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations.” These are just a few of the examples of how brands are moving below “see level” and developing immersive experiences to drive brand interest and usage.
The combination of physical, digital, and social represents key opportunities to drive experiences.
The immersion of digital media has enabled brands to extend a physical event beyond traditional boundaries. Through social, online and mobile communications, brands can “re-apply” these hands on experiences and impact more consumers than ever before. Social media is the natural extension of a brands immersive experience. And here’s the correlation; the better “wow” your experience provides, the more it will live on past the actual event. Through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other social media channels, your immersive brand experience can stimulate the senses well beyond those who actually attend your event! Interestingly, as a result of many social posts and brand events, marketers have had to transition from the role of brand storyteller to that of brand editor. The key to this transition is to base your events and experiences on the overarching brand strategy.
What’s a health system to do?
Actually, health systems have long been in the business of immersive experiences. With health fairs, preventive screenings, and other community events, hospitals have sought to engage consumers and win their loyalty. But like big brands such as Nike, today’s healthcare providers have to step up their game and really think about ways to wow their consumers and stir their senses.
- Develop and stay true to your brand. Your brand position is your differentiation in the marketplace and the core to your brand story. It is based on comprehensive market research, ideation and testing. Don’t let immersive experiences “wag the dog.” Make sure they reinforce your brand positioning and help bring them to life.
- You’re in a culturally relevant industry, witness sales of health appliances and wearable devices. You have the attention of consumers in your market and now you need to come up with bigger and better ways to capture their interests. What a great opportunity to turn the humdrum health fairs of yesterday into truly memorable events today. Use your imagination, technology, and your brand position to lead the way.
- Use your website as an interactive, immersive experience. Most research shows that consumers don’t use hospital websites for health information on symptoms and diseases. Rather, they are visited for community information, events, and access to providers. Wait time information, real-time surgeries, and physician videos are just the start to what can be amazing experiences for consumers who visit your brand. Keep thinking outside the box and ask yourself “WWWDD.” Oh, you want to know – “What Would Walt Disney Do.”
- You’re a health partner, not just a hospital or health system. Borrow from others – next time you’re in Chicago, visit one of the museums and see how they have created immersive experiences around health and human motion.
You can’t stay at “see level” with your brand and merely show your technology and tout your services. You must immerse yourself and your brand into deeper waters with ideas that engage and inspire. What will emerge is an entirely new and different dimension to your marketing mix that will create more than brand experiences. It will create loyal consumers who appreciate that you get them and have inspired them through entertainment and education.