Close this search box.

Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date on the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Syracuse, Central New York and beyond.


Effectively Communicating Your Health-Care Advantage

In the ever-changing industrial landscape that is health care, organizations across the board are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from other providers. One of the strongest ways to do that doesn’t involve billboards or TV commercials. In fact, it starts in a place much simpler and is something that you look at every day: your brand.

By basic definition, a brand is “a single idea or concept that you own inside the mind of your audiences.” The brand, of course, includes items such as your logo and tagline, but it’s much bigger than that. The primary focus of your brand messaging must be on your target audiences, and the community around you must recognize that you stand for something. A brand is really a total experience that a customer has with your health-care organization, and it’s about delivering on a promise consistently.

Positive differentiation is crucial to succeeding in any industry today, and that’s especially so in health care. Effective branding will establish and reinforce an organization’s specific benefits that it offers to the marketplace. In health care, this process is about the entire experience and relationship that patients have with you and your team. When you communicate what makes you special, you are setting expectations — a direct or implied promise — that patients will get the benefit of your unique value each time they visit or call.


What is the one thing you want your audiences to remember about you, if they only remember one thing? With so much clutter in the marketplace, you’ll have to give up trying to be everything to everybody, and instead focus on becoming very special to somebody. That thinking is part of your positioning strategy and leading the organization to present itself as different, better, and more desirable from any other health-care provider.

Your positioning is the unique competitive advantage that influences your desired audience in a positive and genuine way. It must be four things:

1. True: If you say you’re experienced, you’d better be experienced.
2. Differentiating: Don’t say the same thing everyone else says, or you’ll just get lost in the noise.
3. Memorable: You are competing with 3,000 messages a day; say something that sticks out.

4. Compelling: Give your target audiences a reason to interact with you — whether that’s dealing with private pay or Medicaid, for example.

Positioning is the logical argument for customers to choose you over a competitor, while your brand is the larger emotional response and image you are working to establish.When it comes to marketing your health-care organization, you need to integrate all your communications across each of your traditional, digital, and public-relations efforts. In the case of doctors/practice groups, they often think in terms of technical hardware or clinical quality. But, the community values service and value-added items such as access and ease of scheduling.

Effective branding communicates to the desires, attitudes, and sensibilities of the community. The wants and needs of the patients are mainly rooted in results: improved appearance, a healthy body, and guidance in good health. Always remember that the benefits your patients are receiving are key.

Take a look around, and ask how strong your brand is?

Gail Cowley is executive VP at Cowley Associates, a full-service marketing and advertising agency based in Syracuse. She has more than 35 years of experience in health-care marketing and creative strategy for organizations of all sizes. Contact her at


Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date on the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Syracuse, Central New York and beyond.

Essential business news, thoughtful analysis and valuable insights for Central New York business leaders.

Copyright © 2023 Central New York Business Journal. All Rights Reserved.