The first lesson about healthcare branding has to do with setting expectations. All too often, the misguided concept of branding for a medical practice, hospital or individual provider is an overnight magic trick.
The practical reality is that healthcare branding is a high-level and long-term marketing strategy. (Emphasis: long-term.) The principal investment is time—years, in fact—to uniquely differentiate the brand in the mind of the consumer, the patient and the public. The extended duration means that defining the brand’s positioning statement must be a carefully considered process and decision.
Positioning Statement: The “Why You” Question…
The path to brand differentiation begins with a Positioning Statement. This is also known as determining the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Simply, this is the unique idea that your practice or facility occupies (or hopes to occupy) in the mind of the consumer.
In other words, what is the one thing you want patients or the public to remember about you, if they remember only one thing? This needs to be tightly defined because prospective patients are exposed to at least 3,000 commercial messages a day.
With so much clutter in the marketplace, you’ll have to give up trying to be everything to everybody, and instead focus on becoming uniquely special to somebody.
Consider how these examples from corporate America communicate a positioning concept:
- BMW – the ultimate driving machine
- Crest – fights cavities
- Domino’s – hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less
- Excedrin – the headache expert, for the toughest headache
- Home Depot – the do-it-yourself hardware department store
- Mercedes-Benz – the best or nothing
- Nike –just do it
- Volvo – safety for your family
To bring focus to your own position, begin by answering the question: “Why you?” In concise terms, what is the single most important reason—unlike any competitor— that someone should choose you, your practice or your organization?
How do you present yourself as different, better and more desirable from any other provider that the consumer/patient could call today? What do you do, and who are you for?
Begin by asking: “What makes us special?”
Refine your initial ideas to a single, precision core concept. Consider what makes you special? Do you have…
- Unique capabilities or services
- Special equipment or technology
- Particular training, experience, credentials
- Customer/patient experience delivery
- Other differentiation factor(s)
Your positioning crystallizes the competitive advantage that influences and motivates your desired audience to see you as their best choice. People buy based on emotion, and justify based on facts. Ask what is an emotionally compelling reason why the patient should choose you?
Consider what is the most important value that you want them to remember about you? What is the “how” and “why” of what you can do for people? The key criteria and guidelines to positioning your organization in the patient’s mind include:
- Differentiating – not saying the same thing everyone else says
- True and Credible – you can deliver on the promise
- Memorable – you are competing with 3,000 messages a day
- Compelling – resonates with the needs of your intended audience
- Easily Understood – immediately communicates individuality
- Exclusivity – a position that you alone can own in the market
One last test: Avoid your own biases. While you may be proud of your advanced education and achievements, remember that you are not your audience. Prospective patients are far more interested in how and why you can be of benefit to their lives.
You may need help with this process. Reach out to us today. At Healthcare Success, we have the experience to define and refine ideas and mold them into a compelling and unique brand.
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, CEO