A Hospital Discovers Its Hidden Brand with HLD
- Every hospital has a brand. That brand can be well defined, expertly crafted and driven internally, or it can be left to the perceptions of patients, donors and referring physicians based on their experiences.
Late in 2011, Blythdale Children's Hospital
retained HLD to help unveil and market a new in-patient facility. As the process unfolded, the agency quickly discovered that the true opportunity was to reconsider the hospital’s institutional brand, as a necessity to realizing its full potential as a leading regional healthcare provider.
With the new building nearly complete, HLD partnered with Blythedale’s PR firm to develop a strategy, ensure common objectives and capitalize on advertising, editorial, internet and social media synergies. Program goals included:
Build awareness of the hospital’s brand, new facility, capabilities, etc.;
Increase philanthropic support;
Enhance political support;
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) discovery session with hospital executives, marketing managers and medical leadership was held to review service offerings, stakeholders, key influencers, service delivery perceptions, services desired by constituents, competitors, and revenue streams.
While this session provided an important internal viewpoint, HLD sought to validate management perceptions by consulting end-user audiences. Interviews with clinicians, referring hospitals, patient families and major donors were conducted to compare expectations and actual experiences with those of hospital management.
A series of questions was posed and designed to determine:
Perceptions of the current brand;
Current and potential audiences;
Perceptions of current capabilities;
Opinions about current marketing communications;
Needs for new marketing deliverables;
Potential new opportunities;
Effects on and opportunities to increase donations.
Key findings of this discovery session revealed that the hospital had an excellent reputation, outstanding clinical capabilities and delivered exceptional care with far superior outcomes. But HLD learned that referrers were unaware of a number of flagship services, and there were misperceptions about others.
Through its research, HLD uncovered the real potential to re-brand the hospital, to uniquely identify it versus the competition, to capitalize on the many discovered positives, fine-tune current positioning as needed, and solidify and communicate this strengthened position. The marketing challenge instantly became much greater than the original assignment to announce a new facility – it escalated into an opportunity to leverage the opening of the facility as a platform to showcase a new, upgraded hospital brand.
The objective was to utilize the new brand to comprehensively differentiate Blythedale’s leadership position and to facilitate a relationship management program that would bring the hospital closer to its referral network, which provides more than 80% of patients. The key to both components of the objective would be communications.
HLD worked with hospital management to gain buy-in from its Board of Trustees for the new brand platform and the benefits it would deliver long-term. Strategic marketing tools were created to convey hospital advantages and correct any misconceptions. In the two months between the completion of construction and patient occupancy, walk-throughs of the facility and presentations were conducted to bring key referrers and the hospital’s professional staff together – the first important step in the new relationship management mission. A new website
, ad campaign, media plan, announcement materials and promotional literature were also developed.
Blythedale received rave reviews for its new facility and its new brand. Most important, first-hand reports from patient referrers validated the hospital’s new brand theme – Dream Big - setting the stage for its new facility to open with a full patient population.
“The real success of Blythedale’s rebranding campaign was the willingness of management and the Board of Trustees to be open-minded to what the market was telling them and to embrace the opportunity to invest in closing the gap between brand perception and reality. The campaign continues to evolve, with an Annual Report, a new corporate fundraising brochure, a Spanish-language website and other brand deliverables currently being developed,” said HLD Partner & Chief Creative Officer Ed Brennan.
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