August 7, 2018

Facing the Ultimate Marketing Challenge: Bringing a New Brand to Market…Yours!

Inevitably at some point during your healthcare marketing career you will be faced with bringing a new brand to market. As you do, it is critical to stay focused on the strategic and business objectives of your organization, while also protecting the equity of your brand. The following scenarios describe bringing a new brand to a market, assuming you currently have standing or brand value. The goal in both cases is to leverage the equity of all the brands to enhance your brand, differentiate you from competitors and better serve your customers.

Scenario #1: Your brand is strong, but you want to bolster your reputation in a particular service line or geography to dominate the market. One tactic that health systems have adopted is to enter into “partnerships” with other organizations that are leaders in a clinical service, such as the Cleveland Clinic for cardiac care or Fox Chase Cancer Center for cancer care. If you take this strategic approach, there are several questions you should answer to ensure that your brand remains relevant in your marketplace:

  • How do you cobrand in a way that enhances your brand?
  • How does your branding communicate the benefits of the clinical partnership?
  • What is the message platform for “why” your organization felt this partnership was necessary?
  • How will this partnership further distinguish you from your competitors?
  • What are the physician, patient, caregiver, donor and staff implications of bringing this organization into your clinical enterprise?
  • What are your targeted communication strategies for each audience?

These branding/marketing opportunities should be addressed early in the negotiations between the partners. We have seen partnerships where 90 percent of the negotiations were on governance and finances, and almost none were on marketing. Yet both organizations are putting their good names and reputations (i.e., their brands) in the market.

Scenario #2: Your organization is part of a national or regional healthcare system, but you have always gone to market with your local name or brand. Now your parent organization wants to brand the entire system under its umbrella brand. What is the impact to your brand in your market? How do you roll this out—internally and externally—so that you don’t lose your brand equity but, at the same time, positively position the new umbrella brand?

Our advice is for the marketing leaders to be in the negotiations from the very beginning of the Scenario #1 discussions. And in both scenarios, enter the critical conversations knowing the brand strengths of all partners involved, as well as what your customers’ value is in such partnerships. Good market research can is important in these situations. Know what you want to achieve before you start marketing.

At AB&C, we have dealt with both these scenarios and predict that more markets will see healthcare collaborations. Both partners and parent organizations want to increase their brand’s strength and market position while differentiating themselves from competitors. Unique, creative ways to communicate these relationships is key to strategic, business and marketing success.

To learn more about AB&C’s healthcare experience, plus the creative expertise that has been trusted by many organizations to achieve their cobranding goals, visit