The Basics of Health and Wellness Branding
Brands that take time to exemplify their customer experience from every touchpoint are usually the brand people fall in love with. That is why some people are so passionate about their choices of a brand. And they become a brand evangelist.
By: Alex Valderrama, CEO and Brand Strategist at Cranium Agency
Just as your health and wellness are important to you, they are also very important to your patients and customers. Imagine sorting through an endless list of a Google search for a Chiropractor, searching for a great spa while on vacation, or asking your friends if they have a reference for a great dentist. These are just a few examples of the vast amount of healthcare and wellness brand choices we have.
The monumental question is what motivated you to choose one brand over the other?
The answer is simple. We make brand choices based on our “feelings.”
While the answer might be simple, the task of creating, developing, and maintaining a powerful brand can sometimes be a challenge. The concept a brand is hard to comprehend for most people. This is because there is an inherent misunderstanding of what a “brand” is.
Let’s begin with this simple premise. A brand is not tangible. You can’t hold it in your hand. You can’t see it across the street or touch it. Therefore, it is difficult for most marketing, advertising, and yes, some branding professionals, to create and define a powerful and persuasive brand.
So, what exactly is a brand? A brand is that feeling you have about a particular company, product, service, or in the case of a person, a personal brand. Take for example Volvo, their brand should make you feel safe, and a Coca-Cola should make you feel refreshed, while your favorite spa might make you feel re-charged, and your favorite dentist would make you feel confident with a great-looking smile.
You most likely have strong feelings about your favorite brands and use them regularly, advocate for them, defend them, and tell people how great they are. Your strong feelings are what defines the brand. Your feelings are what connect you to the brand and what creates a preference for your favorite brand against its competitors. This analogy is true about brands you dislike as well.
“Our feelings influence our brand choices.”
The best healthcare and wellness companies understand the branding concept of how feelings drive business growth. These companies do an outstanding job setting up expectations, delivering on their promise, and exemplifying a personal brand experience that is unique and memorable.
Your patients’ and customers’ feelings about your health brand are defined by their experiences. Your customers have many options and their feelings about your health brand directly affect their decision on which brand they choose.
Branding by definition is a process used to create, define, or maintain a brand by strategic means. Branding is not static. It is an ongoing endeavor. The goal of branding should be to create awareness, provide true expectations through various touchpoints (interactions), and most notably connect with your customers on a personal level.
Take a logo for example. A logo is simply a symbolic reference that serves as a consistent reminder of what your customer should expect from the brand.
Besides a logo, all touchpoints and interactions are merely expressions of the brand. The overall identity, the advertising, social media interactions, the actual product or service, and many more touchpoints are a reflection of the brand.
Now follow me on this. If you’ve had a terrible experience with a brand, that experience will shape your perception and your feelings about the brand. Or if you’ve had a wonderful experience with a brand, that will also help shape your overall perception and feelings of that brand. Keep in mind, every touchpoint you have with a brand helps to shape your overall feelings and perception about that brand.
“Great brands create great experiences.”
The brands that take time to exemplify their customer experience from every touchpoint are usually the brands people fall in love with. That is why some people are so passionate about their choices of a brand. And they become brand evangelists.
So, how do you create that awesome feeling?
The first and biggest challenge for most health brands is to understand what purpose their brand serves and how it truly impacts their customers. In addition, the primary focus should be on what kind of experience someone has with your brand, from every touchpoint.
Advertising and marketing are the tactics of a great brand strategy and are meant to create awareness, provide enough information about what to expect, and finally act as a supporting reminder on how great your brand is. Advertising and marketing become a part of the brand expression and only play a small part in relationship to the total brand experience.
Remember, people will make up their own minds about how they feel about your brand.
In addition, customers will make up their own minds. You can’t tell them how to feel about your wellness and health brand. You will need to show them through their experience with your brand. Through branding, you can shape the expectations of the brand and help define the direction of what someone might expect from their experience with your brand. And once they try your product or service, and with great execution their experience is positive, you just might have a brand evangelist. But remember, and to repeat my statement above, people will eventually make up their own minds about their feelings regarding your brand.
It is important for new wellness and healthcare brands to gather insight and brand intelligence about your brand. This first phase is important because it helps to lay the groundwork on how you will present your brand in the most clear and honest way.
Once the brand is launched, brand building and maintenance is an ongoing process. You should not create a brand strategy, execute it and then just forget about it. For instance, when we engage with new clients, we often begin with these simple questions: What are your customers like? What do they like about your service? What don’t they like about your service? What brand promise have you made to them? These, among others, are basic questions that are fundamental in understanding the current perception (your customer’s feelings) about your brand.
Finally, it is important to put a strong brand strategy in place. This helps you focus on relative tactics regarding your customers and how they might feel about your brand. It also helps lead your business, advertising, marketing, product and service development, and other categorically important divisions of your business to a successful wellness and health brand that has a purpose and impacts your customers’ lives.