How can healthcare brands earn stakeholder love?

WE Communication's new whitepaper reveals why healthcare brands must be different in the face of indifference. Here are some of the report's key takeaways

A recent whitepaper, produced by WE Communications, looked into the question of how healthcare brands can evolve their communications strategies to overcome the apathy many audiences feel for the industry.

Built on WE’s Brands in Motion global study, the whitepaper sheds light on why this industry is having such a hard time connecting. 

Where’s the trust?

The healthcare industry is one of the most innovative and impactful industries in the world. It is responsible for saving lives, improving quality of life, extending lifetimes and curing disease. Yet, it is a one-sided relationship. Globally, people view the industry with apathy.

WE’s Brands in Motion global study was undertaken to try and shed some light on why the healthcare industry is having such a hard time connecting with the hearts and minds of the people it is trying to help. It also reveals a new imperative. To address indifference on a global scale, healthcare brands need to show up and act differently.    

Exponential expectations

Why don’t people value the healthcare industry’s role in allowing them to be healthy enough to enjoy the happiest moments in life? It’s because people view their health and these moments as an inalienable right. 

People expect to be healthy. They expect there to be treatments for what ails them. They expect affordable access to the best medical care. And when these expectations aren’t met, the result is distrust, apathy and a belief that they have been betrayed. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry is frequently the target of these frustrations.

  • Brands Motion found that 61% of respondents across the 7 countries surveyed would shame a prescription health brand if it stepped out of line

What can healthcare brands do?

The most successful brands connect with people emotionally – as humans. They answer the critical question "Why should I care?" Most companies answer the questions "What" and "How," but few truly dig deep to explain "Why." 

The healthcare industry could learn by looking to other industries, including automotive. For example, after years of stagnation the automotive industry has shaken up consumer perceptions with the development of electric vehicles, micro-mobility, and soon-to-be semi-autonomous vehicles. 

To set the stage for this transformation, the automotive industry is making these advancements real and approachable by helping consumers see that they offer greater safety and convenience, and will potentially improve the environment. Pharma companies could apply these cross-industry learnings by stepping up to lead industry conversations. 

Brands need to be more human

How can brands convince people they’re relevant and build trust? By keeping people at the center of everything they do. Patients want to feel they are more than their medical history. More than the sum of their data. 

This human need goes even beyond patient-centricity, a concept more than 48% of companies indicate is top of mind, but few are delivering on well. Being human to the core requires brands to reach deep into themselves, understand what they really are, and be willing to offer up their soul to connect with the soul of their customers. 

For health brands, this means operating with purpose, promise and personality. One could assume that health brands are good at articulating their purpose. After all, they are in the business of saving lives. But, in truth, they often struggle to express this at the tactical level. Same goes for expressing their personality. 

For all healthcare companies, regardless of size, every communication, every interaction is an opportunity for a human touchpoint. Communicators need to rethink events such as data announcements or regulatory milestones as opportunities to be human to the core – a moment to reconnect with their soul, express their personality and demonstrate their promise in the most human ways possible.

Go beyond your comfort zone

Healthcare communicators are molded early on to be risk adverse. However, as the industry is rapidly evolving, it is important to take a step back and re-evaluate the continued effectiveness of these traditional communications approaches. What is needed now are progressive approaches that engineer surprise and create an "ah-ha moment" that connects to people as humans and sparks acceptance. That means showing up differently and in unexpected places – within the confines of a highly regulated industry.

1. Healthcare brands need to show versus tell about their science, innovations and products, emphasizing the human benefit. Showing will help you connect with audiences in a way that telling them about it won’t. 

2. Healthcare companies also need to go further than sharing their vision of the future. They must provide proof over the promise by being transparent with data, facts, stats and third-party perspectives. 

3. Brands must embrace new technologies that enable progressive communications. For example, social media is becoming more commonplace in this industry. Two years ago, a chatbot used in a healthcare campaign was considered extraordinary. This year it is ordinary. What is next? 

Healthcare communicators need to push their companies beyond their comfort zone to be creative and take appropriate risks. They need to look beyond healthcare and apply learnings from other industries. They also need to be human to the core and use every touch point as an opportunity to tell a story on a human level. The rewards for this shift will be breakthrough communications that truly make an impact, build a deeper connection with the people the industry serves, and shift what is currently a one-sided relationship to one of mutual respect.

The world, your brand and your stories are in motion. WE helps you find your Momentum.

Click here to download the paper in full. And for more information please contact Stephanie Marchesi, President, Health Sector or Catherine Devaney, Deputy Managing Director, Head of Health, UK

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