In Pursuit of Brand Purpose

October 27, 2020

Woman working alone at a desk remotely

For Healthcare organizations, purpose isn’t an add-on. It’s already in their DNA. In an industry that exists to help people live healthier lives, being purposeful isn’t the challenge. The challenge is defining what it is that makes your organization uniquely purposeful.

Purpose has become a crowded platform. Cutting through the noise to be seen as a truly purposeful Healthcare brand is a complex undertaking. Audiences are fed up with emotive hyperbole, quickly zoning out empty messaging that has no real meaning. 

A new era of expectation

The pandemic has raised the stakes higher. Consumer scrutiny is rising on practices that fly in the face of corporate citizenship. Many companies have earned accolades for the Coronavirus support they have been providing. But, as Edelman’s latest ‘Trust and the Coronavirus’ survey shows, others have faced reputational damage that will be hard to overcome.

This is a new era of expectation, with louder calls for accountability from empowered consumers who have more choices, more information and more opportunities to educate themselves about the brands they choose.

One way that brands can underline their purpose is by taking a stand on important societal issues. For some organizations, that can mean a real focus on the environment or supporting local communities. From a Healthcare perspective, the current pandemic has put a spotlight on inequality.  

Today’s world brings new expectations and complexities to brand purpose and reputation, driven by the current social and political environment and by the powerful voices of socially conscious audiences.

Increasingly, consumers are gravitating to brands that offer certainty, authenticity, integrity and, above all, stability. A stable, sustainable foundation is essential for another key driver of brand purpose and reputation – innovation.

Innovation with purpose

Even before Coronavirus, the rate and extent of innovation and invention in the Healthcare sector over the last few years has been staggering. As the latest Healthcare edition of Edelman’s Trust Barometer report demonstrates, being seen to be a cutting-edge brand correlates with being a force for good.

Innovation is paramount to being perceived in a positive light in today’s Healthcare industry and a powerful message for marketing. 

But as Edelman’s research shows, it isn’t enough for an organization to just be innovative. Innovation only resonates with target audiences when it’s being driven by a distinctive foundational purpose that has a positive impact on society.

In the world of Healthcare, those target audiences aren’t just consumers. They include patients, physicians, politicians, policymakers and Healthcare professionals. Your purpose needs to be meaningful, valuable and distinctive to all of them.

Define your purpose and lead with it

Digging deep to define what makes your brand’s purpose unique is no small task. Brand purpose needs to be part of the fabric of your company, have relevance to multiple internal and external stakeholders, be rewarding to society and be firmly embedded in your culture.

Finding a point of distinction – and connecting it to the values of your audiences – requires self-examination. So, what steps can Healthcare marketers take to really stand out from the crowd?

  1. Carve out an ownable purpose. Defining what you do uniquely is essential to positioning your purpose. What do you do that no other competitor does? How is your organization changing the trajectory of healthcare? Is it your process? Your people? Your technology? The place where you can make the biggest difference will be the most differentiated area for you.
  2. Give your purpose clarity. Given the multiplicity of Healthcare stakeholders, it’s easy to let your brand purpose gravitate to the lowest common denominator, blurring specificity. Healthcare is a cluttered category. Don't leave your audiences wondering what you do. Dig deep to define the positive impact you are having on the world.
  3. Put purpose at the center of your brand. Once you’ve found a unique place to own, take a leadership stance in that area. Devise a ‘go to market’ plan that levels-up awareness of your brand purpose. Identify ambassadors in your organization who can tell your story in meaningful, substantive ways across thought leadership and at events, conferences and forums.
  4. Be constantly active, open and transparent. Visibility is key. If you’re not communicating your company’s position, then you’ll be considered to be doing nothing. You need to stand for something to stand out. Consumers want brands to weigh in on important issues. There is an increased expectation your brand will be transparent, active and engaged in a public dialog.
  5. Drive innovation with purpose. In today’s turbulent world, innovation correlates with purpose. Consumers will continue to have high expectations for how brands use technology to innovate. Before you can start to tell stories of innovation, ensure your organization is built on solid, ethical, purposeful foundations.
  6. Precision-target your purpose. Infuse a dynamic, data-driven approach to your planning and messaging to precision-target bespoke messages to key stakeholders. Telling a cohesive story across multiple touchpoints is key, but tailoring specific content to different audiences creates additional cut-through.
  7. Always walk the talk. Make sure everyone in your organization is behind your purpose. Ensuring consistency is essential for credibility. That encompasses every member of the company, at every consumer touchpoint. This will build loyalty and trust over time and is an important way to differentiate from the competition.
  8. Stay timely, relevant and rewarding. Stay current on fast-changing societal changes and consumer behaviors. Ensure your brand purpose still resonates with key stakeholders across the Healthcare ecosystem, is differentiated from competitor activity, and relevant in ways that continue to align to your brand.
  9. Be brave and bold in your marketing. Embrace engaging storytelling. Try new ways to communicate with your audiences. Make sure the look and feel of your messaging is engaging and exciting. Brands have to be careful to show, not just tell, and be bold in how they do it. Experiment with content formats and solicit feedback where possible.
  10. Measure what matters most. Evaluate the brand and marketing impact that’s being delivered through your purpose. Actively test and learn to find the moments that matter most to your target audiences. This insight will provide the feedback needed to guide your activities and keep you moving forward successfully.

Who cares wins

Remember, a trusted purposeful brand is a valuable commodity. As the Healthcare industry evolves, the drivers for trust and purpose will constantly change. Looking at the latest Healthcare edition of Edelman’s Trust Barometer report, the current signals for the industry are extremely positive.

Trust accrues over time, but it can also be eroded. Building a strong purposeful brand reputation that rises above the competition and meets the needs of all stakeholders – from patients to physicians to politicians – will help you to sustain success. 

A platform for purpose

LinkedIn is about the power of people coming together to create opportunities. It is a unique platform with highly receptive, engaged and influential audiences who will support and share purposeful content. Read our article to find out why LinkedIn is your Partner In Purpose and find out how LinkedIn can help Healthcare organizations to define their unique brand purpose with clarity and conviction.