The healthcare industry has been radically changed. The pros and cons of the paradigmatic shift brought about by Obamacare can be debated until the cows come home, but one thing is for certain: healthcare brands must stay in front of prevailing winds or they risk being left adrift in a sea of chaos. If ever there were a time for healthcare brands to reassess their positioning and develop bold new strategies, it is now. This is true for both B2C providers of care as well as the many B2B companies that support them.
Let’s look at a few trends impacting healthcare brands in 2016.
A New, More Empowered Consumer
As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to build enrollment, healthcare’s consumer base has greatly expanded to include an entirely new swath of socio-economic demographics. Consumers are now more empowered than they have ever been. They have more access to information on treatment, medications, and physicians. Consumers also have a wider range of provider choices, too. This means healthcare brands are compelled to embrace the same strategies as their retail counterparts, redoubling their marketing efforts to woo patients away from the competition. Brand strategy doesn’t stop once you get patients in the door, either. For better or worse, patient satisfaction mandates have made the consumer-centric healthcare model the new standard of care.
The Chaos of Mergers and Acquisitions
As the healthcare industry does its best to accommodate the sweeping changes of new legislation, mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. The result is a bevy of fragmented and piecemeal brand experiences throughout the market landscape. For those companies in the wake of a transaction, a rebrand should be one of the highest priorities. Only with clearly defined brand architecture and positioning can a company make the most of its constituent brands. For those companies hoping to be acquired, a rebrand is among the smartest investments. Strong brands with clear positioning will always have a higher return on investment than their weaker counterparts.
The Impact of Technology
Healthcare companies cannot afford to be left behind as technology redefines every aspect of their industry—from commerce to customer service to the practice of medicine itself. Consumers now have an increasing array of technology at their fingertips—everything from telemedicine to wearable devices. Healthcare brands are compelled to acknowledge this reality by leveraging technology to better serve those customers. At a bare minimum, a healthcare company’s website should evoke forward-thinking digital savvy. And yet, as is the case in every other market sector, a surprising number of healthcare brands fail to meet even these minimal criteria with their websites.
The Power of Rebranding
An industry in tectonic flux, a newly empowered consumer base, market consolidation, the continued exponential growth of technology— it couldn’t be a better time for healthcare companies to rebrand. But beyond adapting to marketplace trends, what are the practical benefits of rebranding for those in the healthcare industry? Here a few of the key advantages healthcare companies can realize by refreshing their brand at such an opportune time:
1. Rediscover Your Business
Rebranding gives you a much-needed opportunity to step back and rediscover some critical elements of your business. Central to the process is brand research, a comprehensive assessment of how your brand is perceived internally and externally. Interviews with employees can shed light on the company culture, while customer interviews provide invaluable insight into the needs and opinions of those you serve. With a proper brand audit, you’ll understand the competitive landscape so that you can identify opportunities to differentiate your brand. Beyond branding, though, the discovery that comes with a rebrand often uncovers unexpected yet valuable opportunities to optimize all aspects of your business.
2. Align Your Brand From the Inside Out
From hospitals and laboratories to the B2B brands that support them, healthcare companies are massively complex organizations. Add to this an industry-wide shift towards a consumer-centric model and the need for brand alignment becomes particularly critical. Companies that are able to meet these demands with a cohesive brand strategy have a distinct advantage over their competitors. Rebranding empowers you to redefine your company’s purpose and take the necessary steps to ensure internal and external stakeholders are aligned. Internally, this means that all employees are living examples of your brand’s core values. Externally, it means that customers are aware of your brand promise and trust that you will make good on it.
3. Build Trust and Loyalty
If ever there were an industry where trust was central to the relationship between a brand and its customer, it is healthcare. The stakes in the healthcare industry go beyond dollars and cents—often they are a matter of life and death. A rebrand allows you to redefine your brand promise: the central agreement between you and your customer. In formulating an authentic, compelling, and believable brand promise, you can continue building trust with existing customers and attract new ones more easily. Customer loyalty is the goal of every brand, and customer loyalty can only come from trust.
The healthcare industry is still reeling from one its biggest shakeups in history. New legislation has led to an expanded and more empowered consumer base, while a proliferation of mergers and acquisitions have redrawn the market landscape completely. It’s a lot to get your head around. It’s also an optimal time for a rebrand. The companies that will weather the storm are the ones that seize the opportunity to rebrand themselves today.