Most healthcare practices have either had the conversation, are considering it or are currently undergoing it. I’m referring to a practice merger or acquisition, of course. But there’s an important caveat to consider. During a merger, most doctors and administrators are so focused on the payers, EMR systems, shared services, etc., that branding becomes an afterthought. However, branding is an essential element of a merger as it lays the groundwork for marketing the newly established practice.
Branding is more than just an image or a name. A practice’s brand represents their market identity—who they are, what they do, what kind of quality they provide, their reputation for trustworthiness and so forth. When developing your brand, consider what patients and referring physicians will think of your practice when they hear your name.
Here are 5 tips to consider when rebranding your new practice:
- Assess current brands. It’s likely that each practice participating in a merger has spent years creating a brand. Therefore, each brand will have a different flavor, but they should have a common denominator. Hopefully, that common denominator is providing high-quality and trusted care for patients. When merging practices, the goal is to maintain the positive attributes that have been developed by the individual practice while being able to share those attributes and enhance the other practices.
- Identify brand attributes. As previously mentioned, a brand is not just a name or a logo but the overall perception of your practice. Use the merger as an opportunity to hold on to the pre-established positive attributes, while addressing the negative and defining who you ultimately want to be.
- Make your brand come alive. This step should go hand in hand with identifying your brand attributes. It’s not enough to say you are state-of-the-art, efficient or patient-focused. What makes you state-of-the-art, efficient or patient-focused? You need to identify what your practice will actually be doing in order to live up to those attributes. For example, if you make “accessibility” a brand attribute for your practice but it takes patients over two weeks to get an appointment, that’s a disconnect. If accessibility is something you want to be remembered by, make sure you are setting operational standards to make that achievable.
- Develop a story. Most of the benefits of a practice merger (e.g., better insurance rates, lower overhead, etc.) are not (and shouldn’t necessarily be) transparent to patients. In order to properly address the merger with patients and referring physicians, it’s important to explain the positive impact it will have on them and emphasize how that was a deciding factor in your merge. Whether its expanded services/specialties, better appointment times or more convenient locations, you want to make them feel that the decision was made with them in mind.
- Create a transition plan. Since most practices going through a merger already have an established name in the community, a transition plan is vital. It should introduce the new brand and phase out the old one. The story is a key component in explaining to the community and existing patients that you are still there to provide the same level of care, just under a new name. In the transition plan, make sure you address how to phase out old names, logos, websites, etc.
Developing a new brand is something that should be carefully thought out and executed. Every practice is unique and has individual needs. Points Group is an established and proven healthcare consulting and marketing agency that can help you through this endeavor! Contact us today!