For the past few years, healthcare companies have been going through mergers and acquisitions (M&As) mania; these M&As have been a top trend in healthcare. M&As are shaking up the entire industry and promise to continue.
More than shake up the industry, it’s disrupting brands and your work. For every M&A, healthcare marketing and communication teams are considering brands – evolving, selecting or creating one. It takes a lot of work to roll out a new brand. It takes even more work to educate people on the brand. A big part of that education includes patients, potential patients, the media, the community and other stakeholders.
But the most important audience? Employees. Your employees – staff, including contractors – should understand the brand, why it matters and how they contribute to it. In fact, they should be the first place you start on brand education.
There’s probably a misconception about brand
When you ask people about brands, such as Nike, people talk about the logo, the swoosh, or the tagline, “Just do it.” People don’t necessarily discuss the customer service they receive when buying a pair of Nike shoes. They may not think about how they feel running, using the shoes.
But as you know, those are important ingredients to the brand.
What is brand?
It’s more than just a logo or tagline, although those are important components. It’s the promise your company makes and the delivery of that promise through goods and services. Every brand is unique in that they provide something others don’t. For example, when you think about airlines – which companies stand out as friendly? Which airline is fun friendly versus just customer service friendly? When you think about technology, which companies stand out as innovative? Which company is innovative around user experience (UX) versus spinning up new ideas?
This uniqueness applies to your brand, too. Employees and staff may not understand that they are the brand; they deliver the services by caring for patients, researching new treatments, sending invoices and more in a way that communicates to patients and other stakeholders about your brand.
Employees and staff, in other words, are bringing the brand to life.
Your brand = your values
Your brand sets your organization apart. Many healthcare companies use differentiators such as the way they care for patients, accuracy, value, and innovation. Whatever makes your healthcare company special, they need to relate back to values – the way in which people demonstrate the brand. Perhaps yours need a refresh.
By having clear values and behaviors that are part of the brand, employees will know how to deliver on the promises that make your organization unique.
Communicate brand and values
Be explicit in knowing, documenting and distributing what those behaviors based on brand and values look like. It should be easy to do the right thing and know what to avoid doing.
Communicate why it matters, too. By demonstrating your brand and its values, what will happen? Will your organization receive additional funding or be recognized? Or is it merely patients that will receive the best care possible? (That has merit!)
It’s also critical to get executives and leaders on board. Managers and employees look to them as role models for the brand.
- Communicate the values and behaviors you want to see and why it matters. Your values and brand should be highlighted on your intranet. Also, consider printing and adding to key areas.
- Conduct training for everyone before you roll out a new brand to the public. Have that training available on your intranet to help refresh efforts as well as new employees.
- Enlist managers and leaders to roll out the brand, too. Ask admired employees to be the brand ambassadors – leading discussions and helping understand the brand in action. By asking people outside Corporate Communications and Marketing, you’ll get better participation and increased understanding.
- Enlist Human Resources (HR), Information Technology (IT) and Internal Communications at your company, if they don’t already own it, to be partners. Internal Communications can leverage brand language in their news and announcements. HR can align employee behaviors with the brand. And IT can ensure email and other technologies have the right brand associated.
- Celebrate the new brand with employees at an all-employee meeting. Encourage employees to be part of the party planning and delivery. By joining in, they own the brand.
It’s human nature to enjoy encouragement. Employees and staff should regularly be encouraged – by managers, by peers and by leaders.
- Work with HR to include these behaviors in employee reviews. When managers meet with employees, these values should be incorporated.
- Enable ways for employees to receive stand-alone kudos from anyone, including peers. Your budget will determine whether it’s monetary. (Monetary rewards may not be as important as being recognized.)
- Enable patients to reward healthcare facility workers after it’s rolled out.
- Capture your values in action on your company intranet, showcasing staff who are embodying your brand.
Align to strategy
As you talk about how you’re caring for patients and meeting company goals, relate this back to the brand. How does the brand enable employees and staff to meet goals? Add that to your website, too. If it’s measurable, call that out.