3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Rebranding Your Healthcare Organization

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Rebranding Your Healthcare Organization

Health institutions are facing big, unique challenges — from talent crises to fragile public trust — on top of the demands to stay relevant and top of mind that brands of any industry must meet. When faced with business challenges, rebranding can become a knee-jerk reaction employed to reverse the situation. More than 30 health systems rebranded in 2023, which begs the question: Did all of these health systems truly need to rebrand to address their respective business issues?

A rebrand is a complete overhaul of an organization’s positioning, value proposition, and assets like the logo. While rebrands have their place, as an investment they should not be taken lightly. Rather than starting with a predetermined conclusion that a rebrand is the best solution, healthcare marketers should start by reassessing their brand to determine if rebranding will provide the best path to achieve their goals. Read on to learn the three questions that can help you scrutinize whether your brand needs a refresh or a full makeover.

1. Has Your Brand Been Clearly Defined?

Your brand should convey an idea that transcends time and transactions. It should be an authentic representation of your organization’s identity. Better defining your brand in the current market and in consumer’s minds will ultimately help you extract more value from it.

Virtua Health System in New Jersey defined its brand promise as “here for good” — an idea rooted in demonstrating the health system’s promise to make lives better through delivering the highest level of clinical care and creating relationships through that care. The hospital is admired for its clinical excellence and demonstrates its commitment to the community in different ways. For example, Virtua Health:

  • Provides free cancer screenings for local residents.
  • Offers fresh produce year-round to underserved areas through the Eat Well Mobile Farmers Market.
  • Hosts health education classes and support groups to address a range of concerns and interests, such as diabetes and weight loss.

All of Virtua’s community programs and services reinforce its brand promise to bring life-changing resources directly to the communities it serves.

Incorporating Business Inputs

Has your healthcare institution been consolidated or acquired? Events like these may dilute your brand if they substantively change the vision of the organization, the promise it makes to employees and customers, or what people can expect and experience when they walk through the door. A rebrand may be appropriate to redefine expectations and coalesce the different parties.

However, an organization’s brand should be a filter through which acquisitions and other business decisions are qualified to minimize the need for wholesale change. Mergers between companies with similar cultures, like-minded people and complementary capabilities embolden the brands’ ability to deliver on their existing visions.

Consider the specific goals and objectives that your healthcare institution wants to achieve. Are they aligned with your current brand, or could a rebrand help you reposition in a way that tells a more accurate brand story and projects an outlook for future growth?

2. Have You Invested Enough in Your Brand?

Was your brand investment a one-time commitment, or is it an ongoing contribution? According to research by Boston Consulting Group, brands of all industries see decreases in market share, sales growth and lead conversion when they decrease investment in brand marketing. To maximize your brand’s impact, you must continuously invest in brand engagement and adhere to brand governance. An infusion into engagement efforts can give your brand the boost it needs to gain awareness and affinity.

If your organization has been lax or lacking in brand governance, your brand could be weakened by inconsistency. An effective governance program comprises:

  • People trained to create brand assets
  • Clear processes to initiate and approve assets to ensure brand consistency
  • Tools, such as templates and guidelines, that ensure consistent and efficient application of the brand

A common challenge of large health systems is brand dilution. With many offerings, partnerships and entities, derivative expressions of the brand can cause confusion or create a disjointed impression. Holding all users to the same standards and guidelines can restore a brand’s strength. And crafting a strategy for how to uphold your brand as new extensions arise can be a lighter lift and more effective than upending the brand altogether.

3. Have You Audited Your Brand for Perception & Equity?

Before pursuing a rebrand, it’s wise to conduct a brand audit. Go to the source — your consumers and your employees — to understand how your audience perceives your brand. Does the brand reflect the talent it attracts, and does it retain those people? Are there any misconceptions or negative associations that a rebrand could remedy? There may be a lot of equity in your organization’s name, visual identity and/or reputation, but little resonance in its personality — how you do what you do and how you communicate with consumers.

Healthcare is a deeply personal service, and consumers report that they prefer engagements with providers that are meaningful and tailored to their unique health goals and challenges. Personalized health engagements can look like:

  • Thorough, unhurried visits where providers consider all aspects of a patient — including culture, customs, identity and lifestyle — before crafting a care plan.
  • Technology that makes coordinating care seamless, including contributing providers while retaining security and privacy for the patient.
  • Personalized reminders and recommendations, such as health risk assessments, to help patients be proactive about their health.

Just as health consumers want to know about treatment success rates and provider credentials, they want to understand what kind of experience they will have when making an appointment or scheduling a procedure. Sometimes what a brand needs is not an overhaul but a reintroduction to its audience. Recognition and reputation are a solid foundation for positive brand engagements, but healthcare organizations also need to humanize their brand to create connection with consumers.

Tap Into Equity to Augment Your Brand

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, there may be opportunity to maximize your current brand investment and leverage equity for future growth without undergoing a complete rebrand. A brand evolution can help refine and enhance your brand while maintaining its core positioning.

Perfect Your Brand Positioning

A good place to start squeezing more value out of your brand is in its positioning. Brand positioning goes beyond surface-level elements, like logos or taglines, and instead focuses on capturing the DNA of your brand. It incorporates your competitive difference(s) and your brand identity to help you stand out in the market and help consumers understand the benefits you offer them.

Make sure your healthcare brand’s position is an authentic reflection of the connection between the institution and its patients. It should convey the quality of care you provide while also evoking empathy and compassion.

Tighten Up Your Brand Standards

As noted earlier, a well-governed brand is much more impactful than one that has been modified and muddled for too many singular uses. Audit your communications across channels, service lines and functions to understand how internal stakeholders are using your brand and external stakeholders are engaging with it. Establish usage guidelines that enable and empower individual contributors to leverage the brand wisely, and socialize them across the organization.

Humanize Your Healthcare Marketing Content

Brand positioning should serve as a gateway to engage audiences and ignite meaningful conversations with consumers. Humanizing content is a powerful way to achieve this connection. Here are some tips for creating content that resonates with target audiences:

  • Leverage captivating patient stories. Include interesting and relatable details about the patient journey. This may include symptomatic challenges the patient faced, along with how receiving healthcare restored their ability to work or engage in activities they find enjoyable.
  • Feature providers. Put a friendly face on authority by allowing personable providers to share their passion for delivering exceptional care through video and audio.
  • Translate innovation and research into positive impact for patients. It can be difficult for the general public to grasp complex medical terminology. Instead, focus on how advancements in healthcare are making a difference in people’s lives.

Ready to Have Long-Term Brand Impact?

Building a successful healthcare brand takes strategic thinking and planning, not a series of misguided fixes. A brand can work hard for you when the right story is told and it’s well managed, maintained and evolving with market and consumer needs. At Unlock Health, we use our clients’ objectives and goals to build informed approaches to help brand equity and positioning stand the test of time.

Contact Unlock Health today.