You’ve made some mistakes. Let’s correct those.
As your hospital’s Brand Managers, we take immense pride in helping your community and the public find value in what you do and who you are. It’s our job to communicate on behalf of and advocate for your brand — inspiring others to join us in our advocacy for you. And since we’re so invested in your success, we would like to take this opportunity to straighten out a few things with our 5 Branding Tips for Misdirected Hospitals.
Consider this a little housekeeping rant. We’ll try not to raise our voices or shake our heads in collective, mild disappointment. This isn’t your fault. You didn’t know any better.
1. Respect your logo.
There is nothing more hurtful or offensive to a graphic designer than seeing the logo he/she labored over abused. And more often than not, the abuse doesn’t come from outsiders. It comes from within the company. Stretching out the mark, using the wrong colors, or simply pairing the icon with the wrong font are all grave mistakes that a lot of businesses make. And if you’re a hospital, chances are you’ve got your brand identity all over everything from signage to countless pieces of your paper system. But there’s got to be strict standards for how you use and deploy your identity. With every identity we create, we deliver a graphic standards manual to show you exactly how to use your logo. But it’s up to you to stick to the standards. And for God’s sake, use the right format in the right medium! Yeesh.
2. Get the name right.
It is astonishing how many hospitals we encounter that are virtually unknown in their own communities because the public doesn’t know their name, or knows them by the wrong name. Springfield Community General Hospital is not the same as someone referring to you as just “General.” Unless you’ve made the branding decision to embrace a nickname or a shortened version of your primary moniker, always use your actual name. You have no idea how confusing it can be to refer to one hospital by several different names within the same community. And if you live in a city with an abundance of healthcare facilities, you’ll need to stand out and be known for who you are. The use of various identifiers is most often seen on the web, where hospitals sometimes use weird abbreviations or variations on the proper name over several different social media platforms. If you want the public to know who you are, you have to maintain a solitary name that they can keep top-of-mind. And don’t be afraid to correct people when they get it wrong. It’s not rude. It’s your name!
3. Play nice with others.
Look, every business faces competition. And none of us like the competition. But when it comes to coordinating public relations on behalf of your brand, you’ve got to play nice and you’ve got to teach your staff to do the same. More often than not, when we take on a hospital as a client, we quickly find internal issues of vocalizing resentment about the competition. When this happens, we get everyone together and facilitate some message training. It’s all about teaching your people to say the right things online and in public. And that doesn’t just apply to reigning in all the bad-mouthing. It’s constructive for basic messaging dissemination.
4. Be better than average.
When someone asks you, “What’s so great about your hospital?” You can’t just say: the staff, the service, or the technology. Because guess what? Every hospital is saying the exact same thing. In fact, every business, regardless of industry, thinks they offer the best service, quality products, and something that makes them appear cutting edge [like technology]. Your brand has to be more emotional than that. Dig a little deeper and find out what attracted your most beloved patients and physicians to you in the first place. Pull out the nuanced, special elements that differentiate you from other hospitals.
5. Your doctors are key.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your hospital had a bunch of intelligent, caring, invested employees to say nice things on behalf of you? Oh wait. You already have an army of those. The physicians you staff are essential to attracting community buy-in. Unlike other types of businesses, patients go to the hospital solely for the doctor’s expertise. That expertise becomes an ownable part of the overall hospital brand. And from a business perspective, it makes sense to market their knowledge as part of the hospital’s image. Encouraging your physicians to blog on behalf of the hospital and embrace hospital branding in public and on social media is a no-brainer for deputizing trustworthy brand advocates.
I’m sure you’ve got some questions and I’m sure I’ve only slightly hit a nerve or two. And if you feel a little misdirected, give me a call. We can talk about correcting your branding missteps. It would be my pleasure.