We’ve found the essence of building a brand strategy is based on a series of simple questions. Once you start answering them, the essence of your strategy becomes remarkably clear.
1. DO YOU HAVE A TRULY POWERFUL VISION STATEMENT?
You can’t build a brand strategy without knowing specifically where you want your brand to take you. If the answer is an unhesitant and resounding “YES”, then proceed to the next question. But if it isn’t, consider this brief Health System Vision Assessment Tool before embarking on your brand or culture strategy.
2. BASED ON YOUR VISION, WHAT ARE YOU PROMISING?
The easy answers are excellent clinical care, better health and saving lives. This is of course accurate, but consider answering it differently to change your entire strategy.
How you depict your organization’s benefits within the storytelling of your creative execution is crucial. It’s easy for consumers to bucket your hospital as a commodity. You do the same thing as Hospital X down the street, after all. But what if you thought of your brand promise within progressive levels of goals, like this:
Level 1: You promise to do it much better than Hospital X.
Level 2: You promise to do it better AND differently than Hospital X.
Level 3: You do everything in the prior levels AND you bring them something entirely new. You offer them things they never even thought to ask for, but now that they’ve got them, they can’t imagine life without them.
Once you know your brand promise, you’ll need to leverage the elements of emotion and strong calls-to-action to bring your promise to the marketplace. In this experience-driven world, that means you need a clearly formed Brand Experience Strategy.
There’s no shortage of thinking on delivering the optimum patient experience, but our next question is often overlooked. Like any relationship, those you form with your patients is one of give and take.
WHAT ARE YOU ASKING YOUR PATIENTS TO DO FOR YOU?
What could your patients give you in exchange for delivering on your promise? Sometimes, an element of your strategy might just be asking them to “think about it” differently. Look for ways to ask them to think about health care through the lens (and levels above) that are to your best advantage. This is how you combat the “commodity effect” that so many healthcare brands suffer. Once patients think of health care and your organization just a little differently, you can shape the patient buying cycle to your advantage.
STAGE 1: INITIAL TRUST
Patients value the promise you make through your brand strategy. They see and feel your promises through the creative execution, then choose to trust you. They trust you with their bodies, their money, their dignity and their lives. They’ve given you a gift few organizations can bear the responsibility holding.
This means your Creative Execution is working.
STAGE 2: LOYALTY
When patients give you loyalty, you’ve earned their sustained trust. And you earn trust only when you deliver on your Brand Experience…when you keep your promise. If you do, they will continue to choose you. Loyalty is trust built into capital that can be spent. You can spend it if you need them to trust you through change, or when a rising competitor might tempt them. Even when you fail them, patients will often come back to a health system if their loyalty account has enough credit.
This means your Brand Experience is working.
STAGE 3: REPUTATION
When patients give you their reputation, they might be risking the most. There’s a huge difference between referring a friend to a house painter and helping your mother choose her breast cancer doctor. Their reputation is on the line and sometimes their loved one’s is too. In some ways, there is no higher compliment than when your patients give you their reputation.
This means nearly everything is working.
Once you apply these questions to your brand strategy, you’ll find even the deep-dive decisions around that strategy become clearer. Clarity is the elixir that cures the complex and abstract. There’s a long way to go after that, but we have found the road gets easier once you take that first step. And that first step is changing the way you think about your brand strategy.
The good news? If you’ve read this far, you’ve already taken that first step. You’re already making a real difference.
And if you’re like us, that’s what this journey is all about.