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The simple answer to the question of how to market health brands

By Victoria Hatcher, Senior Account Manager.

Health marketing - ZPB - Simple

Many health brands offer a myriad of ‘solutions’ with so many permutations that there can be real difficulty understanding what a company actually does. It’s almost as if some organisations revel in making what they do sound as complicated as possible. But instead of making them seem very clever, the end result is often disengaged customers and wasted opportunities.

The challenge of marketing in the health sector, and other sectors, is to simplify communications. It is easier to complicate than it is to simplify. But simple ideas enter the brain quicker and stay there longer. Put short: simplicity is effective.

This isn’t just hearsay, the 2015 global brand simplicity index highlighted that simple brands perform consistently higher in the global stock index – Google, Tesco, Amazon, Lidl are in the top ten simple brands. Consumers understand them, they can easily access them, and they are coherent across channel and geography. These brands grow fast and inspire loyalty.

Simplicity is hard to achieve, it takes thought and creativity, and it involves risk though investing in communications and not just doing what has always been done.

Peter Mills of Brand Ethos said: “Organisations that focus on purpose tend to prosper. Their boundaries are porous insofar as people working, or volunteering, in organisations and their customers, or service users, or donors, connect with a single idea, one that differentiates them from the rest of the world.”

It’s this single idea that is the powerful element of the following brands:

Glaxosmithkline (GSK) reached the perfectly simple brand proposition of Disease’s greatest enemy, through what M&C Saatchi have coined, “brutal simplicity of thought.” They used a popular public notion that people are scared of disease, and added that to a GSK brand insight that Glaxo invest more than anyone else in fighting disease, to come up with a proposition that they can hang their marketing strategy off.

Healthcare at Home’s new brand proposition It’s where you want to be gets to heart of patient and carers desires to be cared for at home. The pin icon emphasises place, again central to the brand message. Richard Greatorex, Marketing Director at Healthcare at Home told ZBP that “the brand uses one simple message to resonate with all of our main audience groups. We took it back to basics, delivering a brand that is easily understood, speaks to the human truth of when you’re at your most vulnerable, after an operation or illness you just want to be at home, cared for by people you trust – it’s inclusive for everyone”.

The problem is, creating simplicity is far less simple than it sounds. Thinking hard about why you do what you do and why that matters to patients or customers is part of the process of developing a simple brand proposition. The process involves being truthful about your brand promise and whether you can deliver on it. It involves health sector organisations being prepared to use resource to create a service or products that the public or health clients will understand. The ones that do, are the ones who are really putting customers first.

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