Your hospital branding assets are the most valued asset on your balance sheet.

Consumer companies have long known the advantages of having a strong brand.  Healthcare systems are starting to appreciate this too.  Creating and building a strong healthcare brand generally has three major economic benefits:

  •  Lower customer acquisition costs
  •  Higher customer retention and loyalty; and
  •  Greater referrals from existing patients and professional colleagues

With health systems facing increasing competition and lower margins, it is essential to identify and capture all of your hospital branding assets.  By doing so, you can convert some of your marketing expenditures into value.  Brand

Where to start.   To identify and capture more of your hospital branding assets, first take an inventory of all your brand identity and marketing output.   Assets and materials eligible for protection can include:

  1.  Eligible trademarks.   A trademark is more than just your health system name.  Trademarks are any name or symbol used to differentiate your products or services from those of another company.  Trademarks can include names, design logos, slogans, sub-brand names, marketing campaign names or any other indicator of source.
  2.  Eligible copyrightable materials.   U.S. copyright protection extends to any original expressions of an idea.   There is a wealth of marketing subject matter that is eligible for copyright registration.  This includes marketing copy, images, design logos, white papers, training content, academic papers, webinars, brochures, and many other branding and marketing assets.

Process.   Be sure that you own your intellectual assets and not your vendors.   Of equal importance is to make sure that you are not infringing the intellectual property rights of others when instituting marketing campaigns.

  1. Review key vendor agreements.  Does your hospital use outside creative agencies to help develop brand collateral and marketing campaigns?  If so, it is important to make sure that you own all underlying intellectual property rights in the subject matter that they create.  Unless your vendor agreements indicate that the vendor’s work is a work for hire, then all intellectual property rights in and to the underlying creative output remains in the property of the vendor.  Yes, it is likely that your vendors own your key creative assets, even if you paid for them!
  2. Review all third-party content.   If you or your vendor are creating a campaign that uses photos, images, icons, or any other design elements that you did not create, you must determine if you have permission or rights to use such materials.  If you do not, it is quite possible that you could receive.a cease and desist letter for copyright infringement.  Under U.S. law, owners of copyrighted materials are eligible to be awarded statutory damages in the amount of $750.00 to $30,000 per infringing copy, at the discretion of the court.
  3. Train key hospital personnel.   Your brand’s health is everyone’s responsibility – not just your marketing department.   Therefore, it is important to have annual education and training of all internal stakeholders and agencies that are responsible for your brand activities and reputation.  Departments that should be included in training include marketing, communications, information technology,  financial, and public relations.  It is also advisable to have all brand ambassadors be part of your education and training efforts.

Conclusion.  The key to a strong hospital brand starts with proper brand identification and protection procedures.  Making sure that your hospital has a brand protection program in place can make the difference.