1. Think of your brand as a promise. A hospital’s brand is a promise of what the consumer should expect and how the hospital will perform, “Think about a brand in the same way as a person’s reputation. You earn a good reputation by doing the right thing, doing it well, and doing it consistently. And just like a reputation, a brand is a living entity — it evolves, and it is enriched or undermined by your actions,”
2. Understand your strengths, weaknesses. Any hospital’s branding efforts should begin with an understanding of its market share, strengths, weaknesses and consumers’ perception and beliefs about its services. Consumer research should ask community members what they think is important when choosing a hospital, how the hospital is perceived and how it compares to competing facilities.
No matter the hospital’s current position in the market, communications efforts around brand should reflect reality. For example, a market share leader with outstanding quality scores can highlight how it outperforms competitors. An ailing hospital with low consumer preference, on the other hand, would need to focus on its commitment to improvement.
3. Differentiate. After identifying areas of strength and improvement, hospitals should determine what differentiates it from competitors and whether that point of differentiation is important to consumers.
• The patient experience— for instance, best customer service/patient satisfaction scores in the market;
• Centers of excellence for specific service lines;
4. “Sell” the brand to employees first. After determining how a hospital will position itself, hospital leaders should sell that identity or brand first to its employees. “Your workforce is a critical part of a branding program. Everything starts with your own people
5. Market the brand and connect it to the bottom line. After gaining buy-in from employees, hospitals should take their branding messages to the public through public relations efforts, advertising, direct marketing and other methods. Hospital marketers should be careful to quantify the results of all efforts — a step many hospital marketing departments stop short of. “With everyone being squeezed on revenue and reimbursement, we should hold marketing accountable for results,”