August 28, 2009

Hospital Branding

Have you ever asked yourself how hospitals in your city seem to be everywhere these days? Here in Charlotte some have commented on how Carolinas Medical Center went from one hospital in the center of the city to a network of centers all across town. There is even a CMC branded facility in a newly built YMCA down by our office. In the last few months hospital administrators have tapped our brand consultancy to provide insights on strategic branding plans.

According to a recent article, there are four ways most hospitals across the country are achieving brand recognition. The first is through specialization. In this scenario focus is placed on building a practice around a very specific niche and all the communications reinforces that area of expertise. If an ailment comes up having to do with that specialty, a properly executed brand message would reinforce how specialization is synonymous with being the best in treating the condition. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America comes to mind in such a scenario.

We have also observed organizations, such as HealthSouth and Kindred, utilizing their master brands across multiple locations. No matter where you go, the same brand seems to remind you who the dominant healthcare player is in the area. Repetition of a brand identity is known to establish high levels of brand recognition under unaided market research. A new building brings with it a new place to expose the name.

Similar to the previous strategy, some medical groups have decided to build a brand in multiple directions. In this method multiple practices across numerous specialty areas are acquired and during the brand transition the previous brand goes away while master brand takes priority. The thought process here is to have your target audience think of you first when they get sick regardless of medical condition.

A fourth option can be illustrated by examining The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. The two have extended their brand well beyond the physical territory they serve with the establishment of a technology partnership. Mayo has a venture with Microsoft and Cleveland with Google. In this type of collaboration all parties benefit by providing target audiences with an online tool featuring healthcare resources in what is perceived as trusted brand names.

If we think ahead don’t be surprised to hear about future branded partnerships when it comes to the new online personal health records being proposed.

Contributed by Ninh Nguyen

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