Branding a campaign means more than just creating a logo. “Branding” encompasses the overall personality, look and attributes associated with your campaign. Learn about one community hospital’s branding successes that increased its neighbors’ awareness for quality healthcare right in their own “backyard.”
In today’s ever-developing, busy and media-rich world, it’s easy to get lost to consumers, especially when you’re up against a large neighboring hospital. But with a little extra effort, you can create a brand for your community hospital’s campaign to bring it more legitimacy and recognition.
Rowan Regional Medical Center (RRMC) of Salisbury, NC, recently launched two campaigns with distinctive and effective branding efforts. I was proud of my firm for helping RRMC establish recognizable faces for its campaigns.
To market its modern facilities and maternity center, RRMC launched a maternity campaign, complete with a branded style that was implemented on both the web and in print:
- ABZ Design developed a microsite for the Family Maternity Center. The site features videos of physicians, nurses and patients raving about the Center’s personable care.
- The site also acts as a resource for potential mothers and patients, providing information about maternity classes and pregnancy.
- The maternity branding was also utilized in print brochures and ads.
- Check out the videos and the campaign images!
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, RRMC sought to involve the community in a big celebration. The ongoing theme of “CommYOUnity” was reiterated through a variety of advertising and merchandise.
- ABZ Design developed an iconic “75th balloon” which was coupled with “CommYOUnity” for the campaign’s branding efforts.
- From web ads and billboards to elevator wraps, light pole banners, T-shirts and stickers, this campaign’s widespread marketing efforts made it recognizable in the community.
- Check out the campaign with its variety of marketing products!
What Can You Do? Some Tips for Branding Your Campaign:
- Focus on three or four identifiable traits. Identify three or four traits that stand out about your brand, or in this case, your campaign, and then build your campaign’s platform around these traits for a more cohesive representation. What differentiates your services or programs from those of competitors? Read more tips about identifying your community hospital’s strengths and weaknesses in this article from Becker’s Hospital Review.
- Appeal to your audience. Tailor the look and feel of your campaign to your audience. Is it a somber cancer campaign? Is it an energetic pediatrics campaign? Is it an elderly services campaign? Every aspect — from the look and feel to your marketing strategies — should align with your intended audience.
- Stay up with the times. In order to maintain a competitive edge, your community hospital needs to be up-to-date with marketing technologies. The rise of Smartphones is rapidly making it essential to promote your campaign in a Smartphone-friendly fashion on the web, while QR codes are adding an interactive element and depth to traditional print design. Read more about hospital branding and technology in this article.
Content management system (CMS) websites offer your physicians the ideal solution for a branded website with the added ability to manage the site’s content.
What is a CMS? A content management system uses software and a database to manage and organize website content. Sites may be developed from scratch or built from a variety of available templates and then customized. The greatest benefit is the software’s user-friendly interface, which allows content to be easily added and edited without learning HTML or other coding languages.
Why should you use a CMS?
- No technical expertise is required. Individuals with average knowledge of word processing can add content, videos, photos, pages and links directly into the professionally designed CMS template.
- It is ideal for a collaborative environment. Users may simultaneously add or edit content simply by logging in to the “backend” of the website, where the content is stored. A CMS is optimal for a hospital or large practice where multiple people will be assisting in the upload of content.
- Better ranking on SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of improving your site’s visibility on the web by optimizing it for search engines. Most CMS have plugins or features to assist with SEO. Updating your site frequently with relevant content will also make it more visible to search engines.
- You can make changes immediately. You can effortlessly update your site with no delay. The moment you publish content to your CMS, it appears on your live website. Keep the community up-to-date on your practice’s awards, press releases, classes, announcements and media content.
- It will save lots of money. A well-designed CMS practice website template can help hospital marketers maintain branding by making it easy to share the template design with affiliated practices, creating a cohesive look. This lowers costs, as modifications can be made without the need of outside vendors or web experts.
- Security. The site administrator can manage what content is editable by other users or approved “authors.” This provides your content more protection from many standard website attacks.
- Social media integration. Your website can be easily linked to social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, which allows practices to reach a broader audience of patients.
When you use an agency to set up and design your CMS template, you benefit by producing and establishing a branded look for your web presence, which can then be applied to affiliated practices. You will save time and money with the ability to easily add and edit your own content.
Examples of sites created using a CMS:
- Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – This organized and content-rich site was built using WordPress as a CMS. Check out this article on using WordPress to build your hospital website.
- Let’s Get Healthy For You! – This fun and clean design was also done using WordPress as a CMS.
- Baron Therapy – This creative and informative therapy services site was built using Joomla! as a CMS.
- Spine Health – Another content-heavy site, this one was built using Drupal as a CMS.
By conducting a review and evaluation of your hospital’s and competitor’s marketing materials you can improve, coordinate and deliver more cost-effective materials.
Your community hospital has a heart and soul. Shouldn’t every piece of marketing that reaches a patient’s hands convey the right message?
Your marketing team is aware of the need in consistency in all the internal and external marketing materials. Selling a review of all your hospital’s ads, brochures and websites to the leaders is difficult with today’s budgets.
Create an awareness to leaders that the steps you take to evaluate your brand will assure quality to potential and current patients. This quality is the most valuable asset you have!
Don’t be swayed from evaluating your communication materials because of the time investment or size of your hospital.
Audits can be tailored to need and can be as simple (service line audit in weeks) and complex (over a couple of months for the whole organization) as needed. You can speed up the process by gathering the marketing materials to review and clearly summarizing the hospital’s mission vision and values to your independent auditor.
Compile Your Existing Marketing Materials
- Hospital Logo and Service Line Logos
- Social Media Sites
- Data Sheets
- Trade Show Materials
- Internal and External Signage
- Online and Print Newsletters
After your pile of materials is laid out you may be shocked to see the inconsistencies in your hospital materials. These inconsistent marketing materials give the impression of an unstable hospital, one that’s in flux. The unfortunate result is patients get nervous, your market position is compromised, and mind share is at risk.
Review Your Messaging
Analyzing these communication pieces helps you sell to leadership that your hospital messaging could align better with their strategic priorities and core values. Now you will have the ammunition to sell improving the communication overall.
I always recommend a visual communications audit for all hospitals at the beginning of a hospital/agency relationship and every few years to make sure you don’t drift from your identity. Looking with a fresh and unbiased perspective, across all marketing materials, can unlock the communication roadblocks keeping your community from understanding the value that your hospital brings to its members, patients, families, providers and partners.
Some of the questions that I would ask are:
- Are you adhering to the graphic standards of your hospital brand. (images, logos, font, colors etc.)
- Is there consistency in messaging? Does it follow your brand promise?
- Are your hospital strategies focused and on-target?
- Do all the pieces look like they’re from the same hospital?
- Is your website up-to-date and maintained?
- Have your marketing messages adapted to the current market?
- Does your brand identity reflect the personality of your hospital?
- How do your communications compare with your competition?
For your hospital it is key to communicate either clinical care (product) or providing care (service). Once your audit is complete you will better understand how to deliver a unified voice to educate new patients about new machines, treatments and your unique patient care experience giving your hospital the competitive edge.
Benefits of Your Communication Audit
- Savings: Audits normally uncover items no longer effective
- Impact: Points out areas where small changes produce big results
- Planning: Becoming aware is the first step in deciding where to go in the future
Don’t wait on leadership changes or your leaders to notice the inconsistency in your marketing materials. Audits can be as simple or as extensive as your budget and needs dictate. The results will protect the visual consistency resulting in gained market share and profits.
Additional Communication Audit Resources
To effectively combat out-migration, community hospitals must reposition themselves from the inside out.
Your community may know your hospital name and location, but find it difficult to see it as a leading healthcare provider with the same comprehensive services, skilled doctors and specialists as larger hospitals. Refreshing your hospital’s brand and image is a great and effective way to reposition in the changing healthcare economy.
Re-branding Your Hospital Can:
- Provide an opportunity to communicate the shift of higher-quality healthcare services
- Allow you to build service lines and new audiences
- Communicate economies of scale to reduce healthcare costs
- Can help shed a negative reputation, or disguise negative events
- Communicate services through partnerships, including those with a focus on clinical quality
- Leverage positive community image through partnerships with a “high-quality/high-image” provider
- Aid in the recruitment of physicians and specialists
- Update your hospital’s mission, vision and re-engage employees
The starting place for re-branding efforts must begin with employees, your hospital’s best brand ambassadors. The internal input and buy-in must be early enough to ensure that your re-branding message is on target and can remain consistent.
To begin your hospital’s re-branding efforts, these 6 internal, pre-makeover tactics, will be helpful:
- Research the community’s preconceptions on your hospital.
- Test the brand promise. How do employees feel about it? Are they believers?
- Roll out the new campaign internally first. If they have bought into the message, then it can be delivered to patients.
- Give employees time and the tools to internalize the new campaign. The enthusiasm and commitment they see from your employees will help sell the new campaign.
- Once employees own the new campaign, display your new campaign message at your hospital. Employees and patients will be reminded daily of its new image.
- Look for innovative ways to integrate the promise into the daily lives of each employee. Think of efforts such as awards and recognitions, blog and Facebook stories for internal and external communication, and community initiatives that can elevate the campaign even further.
There are numerous benefits of first testing your hospital’s brand campaign internally:
- It is a good way to conduct research on how the community will respond to your new message.
- It can create loyalty and advocacy internally.
- It will help employees buy into the brand promise.
- It can facilitate employees spreading the brand to patients and the community.
Here’s a good example of a community hospital’s re-branding campaign:
Danbury Hospital, a community hospital in Connecticut, recently developed a new brand campaign to convince consumers to look past their old-time preconceptions and see the hospital as a high-care provider. The imagery and campaign theme “A Higher Level of Care” blends patients with high-tech.
Clear and open communications with internal and external audiences provided outstanding results. Research found that ad recall is up 13 percent from the previous year in all markets, with unaided ad recall up 20 percent in the primary market.
Care to share your community hospital’s challenges and success through re-branding? Which internal tactics did you find the most helpful?