Rethinking Brand Impact on the Patient Journey [Part 5 of 5]

For years, perhaps even decades, brand level initiatives were the cream of the crop for marketers. For clients, they’re an affirmation of their leadership skills. For agencies, brand development of any kind is the most highly visible, and often the most lucrative of all engagements. And if you’re asked to take it on, it’s usually an acknowledgment that you have some serious chops. 

Win-win all the way around.

For most of this same history, health care organizations measured brand impact on a fairly large, somewhat obscure scale. You told the same stories to your C-Suite. At best, there was some pre- and post-effort measurement. More often, you all looked at year over year market share, or even volume. But few marketers, if any, could legitimately quantify brand impact on the organization or its bottom line.

But, hey, the new brand mark and positioning were cool. They had thoughtful rationale. The campaign to promote the change was evocative and emotional with killer production values and huge media spend. So, yeah, we all told ourselves, the market would have to respond. 

However, our shared focus on brand impact typically started and stopped with that campaign. Sure, we all made sure that the following service line campaigns adhered to brand standards, maintained the appropriate voice, and supported the overall brand—even if we couldn’t quantify it. After time, those initial, well defined brand goals faded away, and became secondary to the service line objectives, and revenue. 

In reflection, that big brand effort ended up being performed in a vacuum, and measurement of its effect became less relevant as time passed.

Sound familiar?

Today, it’s different. In the modern marketing operating system, the impact of brand is measured throughout the patient journey in continuous, more meaningful ways. It doesn’t exist in the silo of a brand campaign, but permeates patient engagement throughout the patient journey.

Most health care marketers spend their brand efforts engaged in the Awareness Phase. Typically, they’re trying to generate reach and frequency prior to a Trigger Event, but without any meaningful way to leverage that brand engagement beyond the Trigger Event.

In the Modern Marketing Operating System for Patient Acquisition, Engagement & Advocacy, brand attributes are attributed to specific instances in a patient’s journey, and are tracked for success. Take this example:

Assume brand pillars like compassion and innovation are part of a “Eponymous Health System’s” brand platform (sound familiar?). These attributes are part of any brand strategy, and are defined in such things as the creative brief, tactical messaging, etc. Assuming Eponymous Health System has already implemented their brand campaign, let’s examine how these same brand attributes can be extended into subsequent service line efforts, and planned and measured to influence the patient journey:

The next service line campaign for Eponymous Health System is Cancer Care. So we test messaging in the Awareness phase that emphasizes attributes of compassion and innovation. If, in that testing, innovation performs better, we know that brand attribute is more important at that point. It would make sense that people diagnosed with cancer want to know their health system employs the latest technologies to treat them. Then we optimize “innovation” messaging. However, through journey mapping, we may also come to understand that same person, having gained a measure of confidence in the early stages of their journey, wants to know they’re going to be treated by a sensitive, attentive physician. So messaging that emphasizes compassion becomes more relevant later in their journey.

Ultimately, we track a prospective patient to the point of acquisition, or exiting from EHS’ patient journey. However, in previous marketing models, EHS wouldn’t have been able to identify resonant messaging at different intervals. Its ads would have simply been placed and left to run the course of their media buy. But today, through Patient Journey Mapping, we know what prospective patients value at different times in their journey, so EHS can extend its brand efforts to affect decisions along the patient journey.

For today’s high-performing, innovative marketing teams, delivering new value to the C-Suite is imperative. Through this process, part of the Modern Marketing OS for Patient Acquisition, Engagement & Advocacy, the true impact of your brand can be identified, planned, tracked and measured. Unlike before, though, you can redefine the value of your entire department to your leadership by conveying success measured in metrics like engagement, appointments, volume, and revenue. That would be a new kind of branding Holy Grail.

Written by Mike Seyfer

As a Hailey Sault partner/CEO, Mike works with brands transforming health care in America. He leads integrated teams within the agency and industry world, while collaborating on original research, speaking at national conferences and making sure there’s time for those coveted family trips to the mountains.

Related Articles