Amazon, CVS and you

Why your brand is about to become much, much more important

I think most healthcare providers can agree, at least loosely, on what a brand’s job is for an organization: to encapsulate core values, inspire staff and give employees both a rallying cry and a yardstick with which to measure their efforts. A brand should guide our advertising, our communications and our behaviors alike.

But I’d wager that many providers might have trouble describing what a brand is supposed to do for consumers. Providers know it’s something about reputation, but the details are foggy.

I’d argue that one of a brand’s most important jobs is to simplify choices for consumers. A little thing called Hick’s law has shown that decision making actually takes a lot of mental effort. And that effort goes up as the number of options goes up. Trusted brands reduce that mental load, helping consumers choose between desirable options, not just possible ones.

More providers than ever

In healthcare, the number of available options has grown steadily. And that growth is likely to accelerate. We see evidence of it every time we turn on the news. That’s where we hear about big brands wading into the market. CVS, WalMart, Walgreens and Amazon for instance. And just recently Amazon invited pals JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to the conversation.

Then there’s the growth of established providers like the Cleveland Clinic. They’ve been advertising outside their service area for quite some time. Their most recent announcement unveiled a concierge medicine outlet in Florida. You can’t go much further from Cleveland than that.

Then there are all the other startups that don’t make the news. Micro-hospitals, urgent cares, minute clinics and the wide range of medical tourism destinations. All new and interesting options with their own pros and cons.

So, suddenly, brand gets more important

With all these shiny new care options competing for the customer, the value of a great brand will increase. Providers still have a window of opportunity to shore up their brand before the competitive environment gets too hot, but that window is closing. Once Amazon is in your backyard it will be too late.

That’s why we wrote our new book, Under the Influence: The Anthology of Healthcare Marketing Best Practices. Under the Influence shares more than 30 years of valuable insights for healthcare executives, all geared towards building great provider brands that move the needle. It’s based on decades of branding work in the healthcare space, nearly all of it for providers of all shapes and sizes. Forgive our confidence, but we think it should go on your must-read list for 2018.

Under the Influence is free to download, and hardbound copies are for sale on Amazon. We’d also be happy to send you a hardbound copy for free if you think we might be able to help you influence your brand in the right direction. For that kind of help, you can sign up for a conversation with our President (and author of Under the Influence), Mark Shipley here.