Understand healthcare branding and content

Use content like the world's biggest brands...

Healthcare brands can use content marketing techniques, tools, and channels to create connections with patients, customers, service users, and stakeholders. Successful healthcare brands develop content marketing and digital marketing strategies that are engaging and informative and answer their questions. They use content to create human connections, boosting their brand.

In this guide, 42group’s experts will explain the links between healthcare content and branding and why they’re a match made in marketing heaven…

The power of healthcare branding

Healthcare branding is big business, with agencies worldwide specialising in creating brands that resonate with patients, the public, clinicians, stakeholders, and other core audiences.

Typically, when we think about healthcare branding, we think about the logo, font, colour palette, and design elements that form a brand’s visual identity.

But in 2024, branding is so much more.

We can use the NHS as a case study of the power of branding. The NHS logo is arguably the UK’s most recognised, respected, and loved brand. We all have a personal connection to the NHS with our own experiences.

But the NHS is much more than a blue lozenge logo and the Frutiger font. People have developed an emotional relationship with the NHS that’s wrapped up the core brand attributes.

Today, our perception of a brand – like the NHS or any other healthcare organisation, commercial business or charity – is constructed from all our interactions. They’re not one-offs; it’s a constant exchange between the brand and the individual. 

Healthcare organisations must invest in brand building to establish a clear and individual identity. Whether marketing directly to patients, influencing stakeholders, or engaging in B2B sales, a strong brand will set you apart.

Effective content can shape every healthcare brand in the eyes of its core group of consumers. It goes beyond mere advertising and visual branding; it educates, informs, and personally connects with patients and key people. We call it building human connections – a core part of what we do as a business.

Content marketing not only raises brand awareness and builds brand currency but also establishes you as a trusted authority and respected voice in your field.

How do you build your brand using content marketing? We’re going to take you through all the stages, including:

  • Creating a brand narrative
  • Using educational content as a pillar
  • Building trust through transparency
  • The importance of engagement and community building
  • Why content consistency is critical

Each element positions your brand, boosts brand perception, and increases engagement. 

Crafting a brand narrative

The narrative of a healthcare brand is the story that encapsulates its mission, values, and vision. You can call it your brand story, and it’s a powerful device in marketing.

Think about the brands in your life that you have a relationship with. At 42group, we love walking and being outdoors and have a cupboard full of North Face gear. The brand story of this iconic US company encapsulates everything the brand exemplifies: rugged, adventurous, progressive, and fun.

Read the North Face story here.

A brand story humanises every business, making it relatable to people (or, in the healthcare field, to patients). 

Content plays a powerful role in the brand storytelling process, helping to establish a narrative that patients and people they want to influence can understand. The result of this effort is to make the brand more relatable and trustworthy.

Stories can be – and often are – created by businesses for brands. Educated consumers (like you and I) can see through this for what it is: a crass attempt to misguide or mislead us. The best brand stories are clear, simple, relatable and honest.

Case Study: Mayo Clinic’s patient-centred content

Ask Dr Google a question about pretty much any healthcare-related issue you’re having, and you’ll see a result from the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has established a strong brand narrative centred around the patient experience. 

How? By investing in a wide range of content, from patient stories to well-researched and highly informative articles. They would tell you that this reflects their commitment to patient care and medical excellence, but it’s also a commercial move to capture clicks and increase patient numbers. 

Mayo Clinic’s content strategy builds the perception of its brand as one that truly cares for its patients’ well-being – and that’s powerful in a healthcare system where the patient is managing the payments.

Educational content as a brand pillar

For healthcare brands, providing educational content is crucial. Content empowers patients by providing the information and knowledge they need to make the best choices for their health and wellbeing. 

Branded content is a powerful marketing channel, but it’s not about selling. Educational content in healthcare involves addressing health concerns and answering the questions that patients and stakeholders may have. 

Think about a pharmaceutical brand about to launch a new treatment for a common condition like atrial fibrillation, for example. The business can (and did) use content shared through a microsite and social media to educate the audience and encourage them to make the lifestyle changes they need to improve healthcare outcomes. The content was 100% sponsored, but there was no mention of the product and minimal brand positioning. The power was in using content to get patients to think differently – driving demand for the new treatment.

Healthcare content creates value for patients outside of direct medical services. This enhances the brand’s reputation and patients’ trust.

Want to know more about content marketing in healthcare? Check out our healthcare content marketing guide that covers the fundamentals.

Example: NHS website

The NHS website is an impressive example of educational content done right. OK, so it’s not created for a commercial purpose, but it illustrates how clear content can improve patient outcomes and boost brand positioning. 

The high-quality and accurate content attracts a vast readership and reinforces the NHS brand as a leading source of reliable health information. In a world where misinformation online is growing, the NHS’ commitment to education in content marketing establishes the NHS as a trusted source of public healthcare information.  

Building trust through transparency

Commercial brands employ all sorts of tricks and strategies to openness, which is critical for building trust – a fundamental component of a strong healthcare brand.

Healthcare providers, medical device companies, and pharmaceutical businesses must be open and honest with topics like treatment risks, success rates, access, and pricing. Doing so can significantly improve the brand’s perception. 

Why? Because patients, the public, and consumers in all sectors trust businesses and brands that are open and honest with their audiences. Of course, when communicating with the public, there are advertising standards and strong legal protections that you must adhere to, but we’re talking about going beyond that.

Example: Fertility Mapper

Let’s take the example of a private healthcare provider, like a fertility clinic, that publishes detailed content explaining the costs of its services and their likely success rates. In the UK, we often shy away from conversations like this – which provides an opportunity for brands that are willing to be bold and brave. 

Talking of those, we recently chatted about a project with the team at Fertility Mapper, a website that’s doing exactly what we talked about above. (We didn’t get the job, but that’s OK – we still love what they’re doing.)

The level of transparency here – through the content they’re producing – sets this start-up healthcare brand apart, demonstrating a clear commitment to patient advocacy and openness.

Engagement and community building

Content as part of the branding process isn’t about promotion. When we work with clients, we advise that our focus isn’t on broadcasting content; it’s about creating a two-way conversation that builds a community around the brand.

Content creates engagement and supports community building. Your website, microsite, or even social media channels can establish you as the most trustworthy and authentic voice in your area. This strategy is particularly effective for third-sector organisations, including charities.

You can also use content to bring positivity to your audience engagement. Interactive content like quizzes, health calculators, and live Q&A sessions on social media channels can significantly boost engagement. Instead of content as a passive medium, they’re active, encouraging interaction with content and the brand. This can create a deeper connection and a more personalised experience, as our example below demonstrates.

Example: Macmillan’s Online Community

Cancer affects us all in one way or another, leaving many of us with questions we need answers to. We also want to share our worries, concerns, experiences, and successes with others in a similar position. That’s the thinking behind Macmillan’s Online Community, an incredible free resource of information, advice, and support from this life-changing charity. 

The simple and easy-to-use website provides  

Healthcare content consistency and brand recognition

Consistency in messaging and content style is key to building a recognisable and trusted healthcare brand. 

A consistent brand identity works across every channel, piece of content, and customer touchpoint. This consistency is a core part of the relationship, establishing audience expectations, whether it’s the tone of voice, the type of information provided, and core values.

Content marketing relies on consistency. Every healthcare brand should have a clear and consistent voice across all content platforms, whether it’s on their website, social media, or printed materials. 

The brand voice should reflect the organisation’s values and mission. This is especially important if a brand has a large in-house team that operates internationally and with multiple providers. Strong and rigorously enforced content guidelines are essential to meeting patient expectations and delivering content-driven marketing campaigns with impact.

Example: Pfizer’s brand consistency

Wherever you are in the world, the Pfizer brand is consistently applied across all touchpoints. How? Through their strong, clear, and consistently applied brand guidelines (of course).

Unfortunately, unless you work with them, you can’t access their guidelines. But a quick visit to the professional healthcare branding website demonstrates the investment– and importance – Pfizer places on branding.

Want more information on healthcare content?

We’re always publishing new and detailed guides on how to improve your healthcare content marketing. If you’re interested in improving your healthcare content, patient engagement, and search engine performance, then start here: Answers.

Healthcare branding and content: Mutually beneficial 

In a digital world, content shapes every healthcare brand’s perception among patients, the public, and other key audiences. 

By adopting a strategic approach to creating a brand narrative, providing educational content, embracing transparency, building virtual communities, and ensuring consistency in tone and branding, healthcare organisations can create human connections with their core audiences.

We’re sorry that content marketing isn’t a quick way to boost your brand. However, investing in and committing to an ongoing value-driven content strategy will increase brand awareness, reach, and influence across multiple channels.

Boost your brand with 42group

Content marketing and branding are perfect partners, working together to create stronger connections with the people that matter.

We’re always here to chat about healthcare content marketing, branding, copywriting, and more. Get in touch today.

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