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Why Healthcare Brands Need to Get Real

by Neil Follett - March 21, 2017

This is an excerpt from a Brightworks whitepaper that explores brand authenticity in a world of healthcare consumerization. You can access the free whitepaper here.

There’s been a lot of talk about the “consumerization of healthcare” in recent years. But what does this mean for healthcare marketers?

Well, for starters, it’s time to start treating your healthcare brand like an actual brandbecause patients, HCPs and anyone else using your product are really no different than other people at the end of the day. They’re consumers. And today’s consumers want to know what a brand stands for before they buy in.

Brand development 101 – The importance of personality

If you ask most healthcare brand managers “What defines or characterizes your brand?”, you may have them stop short after sharing a logo and colour palette. But effective branding is so much more that that. Authentic brands have a genuine personality that resonates with consumers.

Thinking about your healthcare product as a person can help you define its brand personality. Some brands go the assertive route whereas others opt for a more whimsical feel. The options are seemingly endless. Whatever characteristics you decide, establishing your brand’s personality will give you a platform for defining how the brand expresses itself in language, and its visual style.

Once you’ve thoroughly defined your product’s personality, that personality then becomes your standard of measure for any future decisions you have to make. For example, with consistency of tone, when you ask yourself, “Would the brand do this? Would it say that?”, you’ll be able to answer with confidence – and that will be reflected in your tactical output.

Beyond personality The power of emotionally relevant promises

Although personality is certainly a huge component and one that accounts for literally billions of dollars in spending, the next level of brand development is promises or claims.

Healthcare marketers are unabashed experts at making solid medical claims. However, those claims often lack humanistic attributes. Accuracy in healthcare claims is the cost of entry, but if your customers cannot relate to those claims, they’ll have a hard time engaging, much less adopting them through conversations.

A brand can be defined, not only in terms of a personality but in the manner it expresses a promise to its particular customer base or audience.

What does one product in a segment promise to do for its buyer that is specifically different from, or better than, other brands in the same category? And through what channels does it express that promise? Remember, your Key Opinion Leaders, your Salesforce, and your Ad Boards are mediums; they need to be “on brand” as much as your detail aid, website or commercials.

It is here where healthcare brands are characteristically vague. And that lack of specificity or transparency in value has been deemed “inauthentic”. Brands that appear inauthentic, seemingly phony in their demonstration of human values, aren’t simply shunned today; they are easily maligned via the proliferation of social media. In the risk-averse world of healthcare marketing, that is a danger to be avoided at all costs.

Closing the authenticity gap

Healthcare brands that avoid authenticity by refraining from offering customers a chance at honest dialogue risk becoming irrelevant.

The good news is there are many different options for healthcare marketers wanting to drive authenticity – even in regulated environments. Check out our free whitepaper for specific healthcare examples and more key insights: Brand Authenticity: Why Healthcare Marketers Need to Keep it Real.

Want to chat further about authentic branding in healthcare? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. We always love meeting new people!


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