What is a brand?
What do we understand by a brand?
A brand in the current context would be defined as a type of product or service manufactured/made available by a particular healthcare company under a specific brand name. For example, a pharmaceutical company floats a new medicine in the market or a hospital makes new and improved cardiac services available under its name.
In the global healthcare and medical tourism sector, building and developing a brand is a relatively more complex deal than in a general commercial setting. Establishment of a brand in the healthcare sector needs a different kind of marketing. Such marketing should cater to the interests of prospective patients, build their faith, have financial feasibility, and have a trusted reputation in the market and a competitive edge in the quality of products and services.
A brand becomes the face value of a hospital or a medicine which conveys the reputation and image of the brand to the public.
In the development of a healthcare brand:
- Giving the product or service an identity through a name is the first step. This identity should be carefully chosen since it will always be used to associate with the particular product/service.
- The second step involved in brand developing is enhancing the brand’s recognition, this is done by providing a symbol for identity, something easy to associate and catchy at the same time.
- The third step in brand developing is building of a brand image which would speak for the brand at all times and would reflect its personality and image. Besides coining a brand name for brand identification, healthcare brands also settle for catchy logos that facilitate visual identification of their brand. A pictorial symbol that is visually attractive is intended to communicate with the patients. The concept behind an attractive visual logo is to ensure that the brand along with all its aspects becomes cognitively attached with the patient.
In the healthcare and medical tourism sector, building a brand image is a challenging task since the competition is very tough. Besides tough competition, various guidelines with respect to brand building and marketing limit the capacity and perceived potential of the brand. Brands in the healthcare industry are developed majorly on the basis of patients’ trust. Prospective patients, be it literate or illiterate, consult family, friends and colleagues when deciding upon a doctor or a hospital. For instance, if a family member has been availing medical services from a doctor and finds it satisfactory, he/she will recommend the same doctor to another family member or friend. Trust builds over time in the healthcare industry, but once it does, it spreads. Sustaining and maintaining the patients’ trust through building relationships, communicating brand value and demonstrating an earnest desire to earn the confidence of the patient leads to the establishment of a better and solid brand value.
A brand is defined on the basis of various constructs. For healthcare brands and facilities, emphasis is placed on the social value of the brand. Since healthcare and medical tourism involves helping professions, the social value as perceived by individuals and prospective patients is that of trust. Emphatic, warm attitudes and a sincere desire to help is expected out of healthcare professionals.