Understanding the scope of health care branding
Heath care branding has multiple components – from deciding on a new brand identity to making sure the new brand identity appears on all touchpoints seen by stakeholders and the general public. As I mentioned in a previous blog, brand architecture can be extremely complicated after mergers and acquisitions. The parent organization handling health care branding has to consider legacy hospital names, religious affiliations, areas of specialty, and/or the names of financial contributors during M&A activity.
The decisions around health care branding affect many internal and external stakeholders, and the naming process can take a long time. Delaying other pieces of the health care branding puzzle while the new name and brand identity are being developed is a huge mistake. I recommend running brand implementation planning parallel to the development of the new brand identity.
During health care branding, in-house marketing and branding teams often hire outside experts to assist with the complicated process of combining two organizations into one. Brand development/identity firms focus on brand architecture, naming and logo development, while brand implementation firms focus on identifying and planning the conversion of touchpoints to the new brand identity. At the same time brand development/identity firms strategize the creative side of health care branding with brand identity stakeholders, brand implementation firms strategize the physical transformation side of health care branding with brand touchpoint stakeholders for ambulances, shuttles, exterior signage, interior signage, and wayfinding.
By the time the new brand identity has been created, a plan should be in place to ensure the new brand appears on all health care branding touchpoints as quickly as possible. For example, brand identity signage needs to be installed on the sides of hospitals and other health care buildings, while wayfinding signs needs to be positioned to help visitors find hospital entrances and parking lots. Ambulances, shuttle vans and other hospital vehicles need the new brand identity to avoid confusing patients, visitors and staff. Speaking of staff, health care branding also includes employee ID badges and clothing, forms given to patients, gift shop receipts and labels on prescriptions from the pharmacy.
The full scope of health care branding can’t be covered in a blog post or two. What I can tell you is that brand implementation often takes longer and costs more than brand identity development. Putting a plan in place for brand implementation from the beginning saves time, money and frustration, not to mention aspirin and antacids.