It's All About Branding

Gienna Shaw , August 15, 2007

You can safely assume the "How to Build a Brand in Four Easy Steps" headline on the marketing page in this month's HealthLeaders magazine is a bit tongue in cheek--we know that building, promoting, and protecting your hospital's brand is hard work. (There's also a few more than four steps involved.)

In fact, branding is at the heart of almost everything that healthcare marketers do, from campaigns to service line strategy to fundraising.In this issue's Campaign Spotlight, Kandace McLaughlin writes about a hospital that had a reputation as being a bit conservative. They wanted to stand out in a crowded market and update their image. They did so with a fun, eye-catching campaign that helped generate buzz and showed them in a new (less traditional) light.

And in the Editor's Picks section, there's a link to a story about hospitals that are shutting down their burn centers, raising fears that the nation won't be equipped in case of a terrorist attack. Hospitals often choose to keep service lines that don't make money because offering that service is an integral part of their mission and their brand.

An article I wrote for the July issue of the magazine about how first impressions affect patient satisfaction had a branding angle. Do you want to be known as the hospital that everyone gets lost in? Or the place where people feel welcome, comfortable, and at ease?

And a story I'm working on for an upcoming issue about fundraising turns out to be about branding, too. How so? You'll have to wait to read the article, but in the meantime, be wary of strangers bearing cash gifts.

So how's your brand? Is it healthy? Or does it need a little work? What are you doing to build, promote, and protect it? I'd like to hear your stories. Drop me a line at and I'll feature some of your responses in an upcoming issue.

Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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