Use Brand Attributes to Take a Stance on Social Issues

Brand Attributes

Know Thyself

This ancient Greek principle provided wisdom and guidance to generations of philosophers, scholars, and everyday people. It also holds the key to solving a very modern problem – how should a hospital address complex social issues like race relations, reproductive health, and gun violence?

See, according to the ancient Greeks, taking time to identify your core values and understand what is most important to you leads to better decision-making and living a life of authenticity. In healthcare, exercises like verbalizing the organization’s mission, vision, and values serve the same purpose. Both create a solid foundation that supports future decision-making and ultimately success.

So, practically speaking, healthcare marketers can use brand identity to address sensitive or controversial topics. To get started, answer these two questions:

  • What does our organization’s mission statement tell us to do?
  • What hospital brand attribute creates a space where we can organically plugin?

Your Health System's Mission = Your Purpose

Most hospital or health system mission statements focus on improving the health and well-being of people, but the approach to realizing that goal differs. Faith-based organizations may prioritize serving the poor and vulnerable or emphasize holistic treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. Public and non-profit hospitals often highlight the intent to provide care regardless of a patient’s personal characteristics or beliefs.

If you’ve done the hard work of articulating a solid mission statement, grounded in your organization’s core values, then you already have direction on how to approach any sticky subject. Combining a stance on social issues with the building blocks that differentiate your hospital from others could look like this:

  • In keeping with our founding sisters’ intentions, this hospital will continue prioritizing improved access to care and services for marginalized populations. That is why we partnered with the local NAACP to open a clinic on the east side.
  • In celebration of Pride Month, we reaffirm our commitment to providing the highest level of care available to all members of our community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Our hospital team sees the horrific reality of gun violence in our emergency departments and patient rooms every day. Based on this experience, Community Hospital stands firm in our support of common-sense gun control laws.

(Is it time for a healthcare rebrand? Check out what our experts say.)

Where is the natural fit?

Today’s consumers – especially millennials and Gen Z – are web savvy and highly skeptical of businesses who suddenly appear in a social media feed. Just like the ancient Greeks, they seek altruism.

A Sprout Social survey reveals that 70% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues; however, more than half (53%) believe brands only take a stance as a marketing or PR tactic.

In a survey from Deloitte that examined how millennials view the role of business in society, data showed the participants expect businesses to drive innovation, enable progress, and improve society.

Based on this feedback, the winning strategy for healthcare marketers trying to be authentic while achieving business goals involves consistent presence over time in a space that makes sense for their brand.

Think about your brand attributes and what makes your organization stand out from others.

  • What groups or online communities share those attributes?
  • Where do your beliefs and values intersect with the social issue du jour?
  • Where does your organization naturally fit in the conversation (from a consumer perspective)?

Here are a few examples of health systems using channels and messages consistent with their brand identity:

  • An academic medical center posts frequently on LinkedIn and shares information related to the efficacy of vaccines.
  • A progressive, city hospital with a respected gender affirmation program has a monthly health tip or topic on The Trevor Project’s website.
  • A Catholic health system consistently sponsors the local Right to Life banquet and provides medical statistics for the event program.

Remember, authenticity is the goal. What makes sense for your hospital may go against the fundamental beliefs of a different hospital. The sweet spot for health systems that want to address social issues is the intersection of stated core values and a distribution channel that resonates with your patient population.

The demand for businesses to publicly take a stand on critical social issues isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s likely to increase as more Gen Z employees join the workforce. Your organization already has the tools necessary to develop a solid strategy for any complex topic of the future. So, get out that mission statement and join a conversation.

If your brand platform can’t support modern demands for authentic interactions, the team at Ten Adams can help. Connect with our experts.

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