Brand strategy

Combating competition with a strong and consistent brand

Thirty years ago, hospitals and physician practices didn’t need to advertise. Patients made health care decisions based on their physician’s referrals, recommendations and prior experiences. Cut to today, where the average patient has become a healthcare consumer who researches health information, reads physician reviews and actively seeks second opinions. The healthcare industry has become more competitive than ever, and healthcare organizations need to differentiate themselves with a strong and consistent brand.

Developing a clear brand strategy helps healthcare organizations align physicians and staff, focus brand messaging and support multichannel media initiatives. Without a consistent voice, patients are likely to ignore marketing messages. They want to know what makes a hospital or practice different, desirable and deserving of their time. If you can’t answer this question, we can help.

Smith & Jones has a tried-and-true process for brand development and competitive positioning of healthcare organizations. Over the last 25 years, we have applied it successfully to hospitals, healthcare systems, clinics and physician practices. It’s a proven, repeatable process that, when applied consistently, assures our client a differentiated and desirable brand.

Here is a snapshot of our brand planning process:

  • Diagnosis: We start by inviting all key decision makers to a half day session. It’s here that we gather undocumented institutional memory, discuss vision, core values, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, competitors and the future. We then study the organization’s history and business plans, review secondary and field primary research. Finally, we analyze the data across four dimensions: the brand, the audience, the competition and the client’s current marketing practices, to uncover key insights that lead to sound strategic thinking.
  • Prescription: Utilizing key insights uncovered in the diagnosis, we determine the winning brand strategy, in the form of a strategic direction (including a brand positioning statement, brand pillars and tactical priorities), and creative direction (in the form of the Brand Imaging™ board). At this time, we reconvene all key decision makers in a two-hour check-up to review our findings, build consensus and fine tune brand strategy.
  • Treatment: Once brand strategy has been agreed to and any questions or concerns have been addressed, we develop the brand promise (in a form that is tactically and media agnostic, assuring that the message can be evaluated without the typical trappings of form and function). We then apply this brand promise across a variety of pre-determined owned and paid media (in the form of a pro-forma brand grid). Key decision makers are brought together again for a final one hour meeting, where we present, review and seek consensus on the final brand plan.
  • Coordination: Once we have the approval of the key decision makers, we work with the marketing team to execute the brand plan. Together, we develop the annual marketing plan: defining goals and measurements (both leading and lagging indicators), determining and prioritizing tactics, allocate funds, assign accountabilities and put the plan into action. We routinely review our key indicators, adjusting and fine tuning the treatment to ensure the results we’ve set out to achieve.

Does your hospital have a strong, consistent brand identity? Do you have a strategy to carry out this brand across multi-channel marketing tactics? Do you have buy in from management? If not, contact us and try on our process for size. We’ll help you uncover insights and piece together a solid strategy that highlights your organization’s best qualities to differentiate you from competitors.