Taking a walk in your patient’s shoes can help you better understand your brand.
Sometimes, the ideas surrounding branding appear abstract. No one understands that more than me.
Clients will often tell me that branding sounds too conceptual, faraway or even too theoretical. But to me, branding is only unapproachable if you see it that way. And the only way to tackle it is by grounding it in the real world. And one of the most fundamental, real-world pieces of branding is the user experience. Where does the consumer come in physical contact with your product, your services, your staff, your messaging, and your image?
These are called touchpoints, and your brand lives in each one. As a nonprofit hospital or NPHO, you have an opportunity to deliver meaningful experiences at every touchpoint in a patient’s experience. But the first step to making that happen is mapping the experience out on paper. What is their journey with you? Where does it start and how does it progress?
More often than not, the journey doesn’t begin in the waiting room. It begins online. And that means the design and function of your website needs to be inviting and engaging. This is where you need to establish branding and build the foundation of your relationship.
If you’re trying to reach new patients with marketing, each piece (direct mailers, outdoor ads, radio spots) should be crafted with an experience in mind. How do you want to introduce yourself and what do you want people to think of you? Marketing is a proactive venture, so a commitment to doing it right is the best way to make a good first impression.
Once you’ve got people in the door, start thinking about your touchpoints in a dimensional sense: the décor, the signage, logo placement, paper system, and anything seen or touched by the patient. These items are the most “expected” components of branding, so they’re usually the first to be addressed when an NPHO undergoes a rebranding campaign. But when you’re mapping the experience and making an itemized list of touchpoint, be detailed and keep your eyes open.
But above all, your most important touchpoints aren’t things at all — they’re people. Your staff has enormous power in creating a positive or negative patient experience. They can create emotional connections that resonate. Best of all, they can turn patients into loyal brand advocates. And frankly, that’s the whole point of branding: to reach people on emotional levels.
In the end, creating branded touchpoints is all about putting yourself in the patient’s shoes and taking a walk. You might discover things about yourself you never knew.
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