3 tools to build an effective hospital brand strategy

By Fran Matso Lysiak 

The services of a "brand czar" is one of the proven tools hospital marketers can use to build and maintain a strong brand amid the increasingly competitive healthcare environment, according to a new white paper by Smith & Jones.

Building a brand is essential for any hospital or healthcare system to attract and retain new patients, as well as top physicians during an era of consolidations, mergers and closure. Indeed, there has never been a greater need to embrace basic branding competencies to remain competitive, align audiences and support consistent multichannel communications, the white paper says. Yet less than 20 percent of U.S. hospitals use an active brand strategy, according to the firm. 

"Until recently, it wasn't even necessary to advertise healthcare services," according to the report. "Today, there are countless choices for care, and increasing financial exposure is making patients more likely to question the cost or need for expensive medical care."

The Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Mass General are some of the top U.S. hospital brands, according to the white paper, and operate from positions of power. "Consumers know them, what to expect, and what they deliver," the report says.

Smith & Jones suggests hospitals use these proven tools to create their brands:

Brand vision board: Organizations can use a combination of photographs, graphics and words on one panel that reflect their desired brand positions and help establish their personality and visual identity. These boards help get buy-in on positioning initiatives and communication to frontline staff.

Advertising toolkit: Like a craftsman's tool box, this kit contains resources for marketers and designers, such as electronic art files, logo graphics, photographs or almost any visual elements that have been created to support the brand identity.

Brand czar: A person or team assigned as the overseer of all brand communications and identity executions. This may be a full-time position, an informal role assumed by someone close to the branding process, or outsourced to an independent contractor. However, a hired brand czar must place the hospital's interests above his or her own, collaborate with internal staff and vendors, and be willing to take unpopular, yet strategically appropriate positions when policing the brand, according to the report.

To learn more:
- download the white paper