Health Providers, Strategy

Future-Proof Your Brand Strategy

MERGE offers a handful of key reminders to healthcare marketers looking to sharpen their brand strategy in the years to come

BY: Kellie Bliss | EVP Client Service, Health & Wellness Practice Leader

PUBLISHED: 11/28/2023

A recent NRC study paints a clear picture of “The Great Brand Blur,” in which COVID messaging relegated many healthcare brands to the same space of safety, caring, convenience, and healthcare heroes. For many, the gap between your brand and the next best competitor has likely narrowed. Meanwhile, the pressing initiatives have shifted to experience, acquisition and, therefore, data strategy and tech stack enablement. All are essential initiatives, but where does this leave brand strategy?

We know brand is vital in healthcare. A strong brand enhances patient trust and engagement, which leads to better health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. A strong brand also attracts new patients and top talent, which is so crucial for both foundational & innovative care delivery.

So, how can you sharpen brand strategy in a world where experience is central? Here are a few reminders:

1. Brand is your promise brought to life through your experience. Have you evolved your brand promise to enliven the experience delivered by the entire organization? Have you prioritized the critical journey moments of truth that deliver the highest value to your customers and deliver the most value to your organization? If not, start here.

2. Identify which customer segments are your biggest advocates and biggest detractors. Where is the opportunity to improve, ignite, or change perceptions and behavior most? Do you understand the lifetime value (LTV) of these segments to help you prioritize and focus? If not, sharpen your segmentation and customer intelligence analytics. Priorities are only going to expand, so arm yourself with the intelligence now.

3. If you want to develop a roadmap to personalization, do you have a data strategy? If not, this — plus the identification of priority moments in your customer journey — are foundational steps. With this in hand, start by fielding a targeted proof of concept initiative to help your organization develop its ability to operate with a user-centered mindset and commitment to measurable improvement. 

Where there is a need to elevate your organization's performance, seize the opportunity to define your desired future state and forge a strategic path for evolution. In an era of increasing market challenges, it's imperative for enterprises to become more integrated to keep ahead of competitors — and the expectations of your own patients.

4. If you want to improve your customer experience, then integrate the functions that serve that end-to-end experience. This includes everything from media and CRM, to your website, portal and apps, to customer and patient care. Acknowledge the ways of the past but embrace the new role of putting the customer - patient and even team members at the center of everything you do in marketing.  Leverage customer intelligence in a central platform and, as important, challenge your team to act on those findings in new and different ways. Focus on eliminating barriers, breaking down internal silos, and advancing goals trained on seamless patient-centered experiences.

5. Understand what’s coming. The Medicare fund will be out of money in approximately seven years, right at the same time that the over 65 populace will be reaching its peak. The demands on providers, patients, and their families will be unprecedented. Improving understanding, self-service, access, self-care and healthcare literacy now is one way to help support our communities for the future. Additionally, new payment models will drive disruption and new brands will create more clutter and more confusion among an unprecedented multi-generational marketplace.

Thinking about where you are now and what you need to deliver in the future is the cornerstone of what your brand strategy must do today. Most importantly, go past the functional aspects of your brand experience and challenge yourself to embrace the vitally important emotional experiences of your customers. Reinforce good experiences and systematically improve the bad ones, of course. But also ensure that your team knows the moments that you want to be part of your brand's distinct point of difference. Do this, and you'll be on your way to implementing a healthcare brand strategy that is built for the future.


*Becky Minervino, MERGE EVP, Strategy, and Samantha Stout, MERGE SVP and Group Business Development Leader, also contributed to this article.


Looking for a partner who can help sharpen your brand strategy for the future? Connect with our experienced team of experts at MERGE to help optimize your organization for the years to come!