The last 12 months have accelerated many trends that we had started to see slowly emerging over the last few years in healthcare. Telehealth had been something we had long discussed with our clients, and it had been heralded as a key part of the future of healthcare – but had gained little traction to date in most markets and sectors. However, 64% of patients globally who have accessed healthcare during the pandemic, have now done so using telehealth solutions, and of those 82% of patients did so using telehealth for the first time.1
What’s been more startling, is the rise to prominence of the big pharma brand. As vaccination rates and wars start to rise across the world, everyone is discussing if they had the Pfizer or the Astra Zeneca jabs and the speed and effectiveness which the big pharma brands have stepped up and offered us a way out of a seemingly impossible situation, has gained them enormous respect and admiration, revolutionized levels of brand trust that were previously relatively low, and made them into household names being widely discussed across personal and social channels.
However, for all the brands that have gained considerable traction during the pandemic, there are many other brands, who have contributed just as much to the global efforts to tackle and combat the effects of Covid-19, whose brands are still not widely known or recognized. What brand of syringe did you receive your vaccination with? What brand of lateral flow test are you using to test your children at home? Who are providing the countless other innovations in healthcare that will allow us to re-open our societies and live safely?
Product vs Brand
Traditionally the world of healthcare has focused on products rather than brands. Marketing departments are staffed by ex-scientists or doctors who are absolute experts in their field and understand their products inside out. But they are not trained marketers. And whilst investment does go into developing brand names and logos or basic branding elements when developing a new product or service, there is little time or money invested in building a holistic brand. Instead, there is a strong belief that the stats, data and whitepapers will sell the product alone. That if we list product features not product benefits, the audience is intelligent enough to join the dots themselves.
Undoubtedly, much of the marketing generated in the healthcare world is aimed at a highly educated, and well trained audience. And clearly, building a strong case for the effectiveness of a product is paramount here. But, they are also humans who make decisions in the same way as everyone else i.e. their brains look for shortcuts to cope with the vast amount of decisions we have to make. Branding speaks to the intuitive parts of their brains and facilitates that decision making.
If brand really does not play a role, why are there multiple products in most markets? Why choose one syringe over another? Or one Covid test over another? If we were all purely rational, surely we’d just let the data speak for itself?
The importance of brand post Covid
The opportunity presented to big pharma brands post Covid and how they capitalise on the increased trust and awareness is an enviable position to be in. It has also made other brands who have not benefitted question why they have not received the attention and recognition, and how they can start to address this.
At Create Health we believe that your brand is the beating heart of your organization. It is something that healthcare companies need to commit to over the long term, and build strategies to continually demonstrate who they are and what their brand represents. Brand Purpose is another concept that has risen in importance and prominence over the course of the pandemic. But it is also a concept that has caused a significant amount of backlash and destroyed carefully built brand equity for companies that have jumped on the bandwagon and not shown a long term, demonstrable commitment to the position they have inhabited.
As health and wellbeing as topics of interest have increased exponentially during the pandemic, we are seeing many consumers – especially younger consumers, showing an increased interest and an appetite for taking a very active role in managing their health and the decisions that go with it. This level of focus will not disappear post Covid. We have trained generations to come that health can not be taken for granted, and in order to secure the future they want, we all need to take an active role in looking after our own health and that of our wider society.
The importance of brand in healthcare is therefore only going to grow. Healthcare brands need to be able to communicate effectively, to have clear and compelling positionings and to build strategies that invest in a long-term commitment to communicating and demonstrating what they stand for, consistently. It took Nike 17 years to get to ‘Just do it’ and its commitment and consistency means that every communication now seamlessly demonstrates that ethos without even needing to say the words. I wonder in 20 years time, which healthcare brand will have had the vision and the commitment to build as effective a brand strategy that not only gives them a huge commercial advantage, but that has the power to improve and benefit the lives of people across the globe?
- Global Consumer Trends: Healthcare Edition, Dynata, February 2021