“Branding” is one of the most popular buzz words in the advertising and marketing arena. But what does it mean to have a “brand” and what is needed to create and maintain your “brand”? Is it really important for a small physician’s office or local hospital? The short answer is yes – branding is important, even for small providers.

In today’s technology-driven economy, even the local hospital and primary care physician’s office have to compete for business. Therefore a provider’s “brand” and its brand strategy should be viewed as an investment in the provider’s public image and reputation. Further, the importance of a coherent and consist brand message and brand strategy in the provider’s success should not be undervalued or ignored.

A complete branding strategy involves a number of considerations and requires communication and coordination between management and administrative personnel, the marketing department, and legal counsel. This post is the first in a series on branding strategies for healthcare facilities, and we will address these various considerations over the next weeks.

The first and central step in branding is selecting your facility’s trademarks. Trademarks are the name(s), phrase(s), and/or logo(s) that identify and represent your facility, its services, and mission to the public and are the foundation for the facility’s overall branding and marketing strategy. Selection of the hospital’s trademarks and logo should be guided by the vision of the hospital, its mission, and/or its value statement, while also taking into account the protectability of the mark(s) chosen.

In addition to the main name of a facility, which may not have been changed in many years, a hospital or other facility may choose to adopt a distinctive logo or to use more distinct trademarks for specific services areas or to promote an area of expertise. When choosing a trademark for a specific service, consider the demographics of the potential consumers for the service.

Our Insight. Your Advantage. A strong trademark acts to promote a provider’s reputation, helping it stand out among its competition. Without a distinct and recognizable trademark, even the most extensive marketing plan will have little chance of separating your facility and its services from the competition. Healthcare providers should evaluate new and existing trademarks for both a provider’s main facility and other distinct service lines to ensure the trademarks are providing a strong foundation for the provider’s overall branding and marketing strategy.

Be sure to check back next week, when we will be discussing the strength of various trademarks and how to choose a strong trademark to ensure that it can be protected.