by Lauren McGuire, President
The healthcare industry is in a constant state of change, from consolidation of practices to new treatments and technologies, to patients taking control of their healthcare in a way not seen before. All of these changes are driven by patient choice and the way patients expect to be treated as part of their patient-doctor relationship. Patients expect the same level of convenience and emotional connection with their healthcare that they receive from consumer brands they love. So in healthcare branding today, you have to be quick to evolve if you want those relationships to remain strong and fulfilling for every patient.
Healthcare providers and networks now take a page from consumer brands in how they market themselves to break through the clutter and create emotional connections with patients. Healthcare branding is essential to driving patient acquisition through awareness, as well as retaining current patients and growing business. While visual identity and distinct positioning are the typical go-to elements in healthcare branding, a previously overlooked but currently trending component is Sonic Branding.
An evolving healthcare landscape calls for new marketing approaches across touchpoints. Telehealth is the new normal, with patient usage at 38X pre-pandemic levels.
– Data provided by McKinsey & Company
Sonic identities are rooted in a brand’s core identity, values and goals. Analogous to a visual identity, they are unique to that specific brand and when done right, can immediately make a connection between a listener and a brand, serving as an instant brand identifier through your ears. Studies have reported that we hear 20 to 100 times faster than what we see, so sonic identities are the very first impression a consumer has of your brand.
Our SonicPulse research with Sentient Decision Science has shown that the emotional response to sound is 86% correlated with a consumer’s desire to engage or avoid any brand or experience. With this in mind, Sonic Branding is the fastest way to improve adoption, attribution, and brand appeal in a crowded market.
There are three areas where healthcare marketers can make the biggest impact through sonic branding: Sonic Identities, UX/UI in digital experiences, and in-person experiences.
Patients today engage with their healthcare across multiple touchpoints, all of which can be branded to influence the way a patient feels about a healthcare brand. In fact, a large part of the patient experience takes place outside of the healthcare facility. From a doctor’s website, to patient reviews, to the hold music used for the call center to telehealth visits, all of these are opportunities for healthcare marketers to insert distinct and impactful sonic branding into the patient experience.
As healthcare marketers expand in an increasingly audio-first landscape — from television to social, digital, streaming audio and podcasting — only a strong Sonic Identity can connect all of those touchpoints, as visual branding is not always present. As you connect with patients through all of these modalities, sonic branding can be a strong memory trigger to help build brand attribution and recall.
Alzheimer’s Assocation – Sonic Logo + Brand Theme
Strong sonic branding can look like many things. Many times it is a sonic logo, but an ownable voice or sonic palette are all tools to create brand uplift.
For example, the Alzheimer’s Association uses an ownable brand theme to connect its assets, starting with its TV and digital ads. Pharmaceutical brand Abbott includes its sonic logo at the end of its ads for a number of its products across touchpoints, including social content. This strategy provides a cohesive and consistent audio cue that attributes many products to the parent company, as seen here for BinaxNow and Ensure.
Most healthcare companies know their digital footprint will be critical to futureproofing in an evolving healthcare space. With the wide adoption of telehealth, mobile apps, and voice-driven services, healthcare providers have an opportunity to use sound at each of these touchpoints to create a holistic brand experience and build emotional appeal across the entire patient journey. Sound is a critical part of any technology and if not considered at a brand level, it can often end up an afterthought and a missed opportunity for not only retention, but in encouraging adoption of new tools and products that support the patient experience.
As healthcare evolves and consumers’ expectations grow, sonic branding can play an important role in how consumers feel about their in-person experiences as well. Using evolving musical compositions, biophilic sounds and research-backed audio elements, strategically crafted soundscapes in hospital or healthcare settings can help patients relax, increase mindfulness and productivity (for doctors and healthcare workers), and create an overall sense of calm in a space that can create anxiety. All of this can become a part of your brand’s identity as patients connect this experience with your brand experience.
Whether helping to build attribution or trust in a brand or to impact the way patients feel in a doctor office, sound is a powerful tool that healthcare brands and systems can utilize to make their brand stand out. Smart healthcare systems are already implementing sonic identities into their marketing, creating a cohesive sound that can be found across all patient touchpoints. But there is still a long way to go and new opportunities to connect patients with their healthcare providers via sonic branding.