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Your brand experience matters

By Simon Hackett

It’s hard to talk about building meaningful brands without referring to the consumer megabrands like Apple, Tesla or Amazon.

Normally, you get one of two reactions. Either acknowledgement of their greatness followed by bewilderment in how to apply that to your brand or eyes rolling as others admonish you for being lazy and clichéd.

Why? In healthcare marketing, we usually don’t think of brands as ‘experiences’ or consider ‘journeys’ like they do. Often, it’s hard to make the connection.

Thanks to COVID-19, we have seen fundamental shifts in working environments, manufacturing processes, communication methods, purchasing behaviours and of course healthcare provisions. However, the best brands don’t change at all.

They embrace disruption. These brands realise the world is dynamic and behaviours will change faster or slower than expected. In an era of unpredictability, the agile, authentic, purpose-driven brand is confident and outpaces its competitors.

A purpose-driven brand immediately suggests a grand goal of saving lives or changing the world. Very few are lucky enough to work on a brand that saves lives. In healthcare, we have that chance. Keep in mind that each brand has an opportunity to change lives for the better – not just with the product we are selling but the meaningful role we can play.

Make your brand matter

At Ashfield Health, we are a network of seven agencies with their own specialties and promise. We work with clients who make scientific discoveries and make a difference every day. When we were building the new Ashfield Health brand, we wanted to show how we were different, but united. We reviewed our purpose and the meaningful role we
have in the lives of 1,500 team members, partners, clients and the people they serve.

After engaging a wide range of stakeholders and focusing on every experience, our team developed an inspiring narrative to act as our guiding light. During the challenging time of the pandemic, Zoom provided an opportunity.

We could be more forgiving, more focused and more engaged with our staff all over the world. In every discussion, three simple words rose to the surface. ‘Make it matter’ is simple, authentic, and accessible. It acknowledges that everyone plays a meaningful role and because of this, our team is inspired to make whatever they do matter more. This is what a powerful brand is all about.

Bring your brand to life

We need to be prepared to share ownership of our brands because a brand can only be completely controlled at its conception. The perception of a brand is increasingly dominated by key influencers with large social media followings instead of key opinion leaders with deep research experience.

The responsibility of a brand manager today is to acknowledge this discomfort, determine the organisation’s boundaries and set out to be bold and brave. Ultimately, this will enable your brand to thrive.

If we have clarity in the role our brands maintain in the lives of patients, and focus on this, we can feel more confident. We can look beyond the product and work to build the experience (value beyond the pill), blend science with creativity, use the available channels and technology, improve the treatment environment, and deliver meaningful HCP and patient journeys.

Ironically, COVID-19 reinforced this premise. The pandemic brought us closer to the worlds of tech giants. Tech companies are obsessed with customer experience (Cx). For us the ‘C’ is the healthcare provider, patient, advocacy group, policymaker or caregiver.

In healthcare marketing, we should work on the experience and become obsessed with our customers. Then use technology to improve experiences and demonstrate the role a brand can play in their lives. These lessons are not just for brand marketeers, but for all those who need to sharpen their customer focus by blending science, creativity and strategy.

Listen, adapt and find your brand truth

Marketing teams need to be constantly listening. Listen to your staff, healthcare professionals, patients and the countless data points offered by new technology. Understand the truth behind Cx. Adapt, be agile and realise you truly ‘make it matter’ when you respond to the needs of your customers.

Recently, there was a wonderful example outside healthcare from the UK supermarket, Tesco. On the day hospitality reopened post-lockdown, Tesco encouraged people to buy drinks at their local pub instead of at their stores.

Although the public probably didn’t need the encouragement, Tesco’s brand message (‘every little helps’) shines as authentic, meaningful and memorable.

This year when brand planning rolls around, remember that the world and behaviour will always be unpredictable. Involve your customers in your brand, whoever they are. Listen and go beyond your product. Welcome new viewpoints, be agile and create an experience to make it matter.

To find out more about Ashfield Health, part of UDG Healthcare, visit

To find out more about Ashfield MedComms, visit

Simon Hackett is Global Growth Director at Ashfield Health

In association with

14th May 2021

From: Marketing


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