Core Exchange: How Do You Bring Life to Your Brand Promise in Healthcare?

nurse checking on baby

An audio interview on healthcare branding.

You’ll want to get to listening, so I’ll keep this short.

At Core Creative, we stay current by pursuing information directly from those driving change and innovation in their field. It helps us to learn how business is finding new solutions for consumers (both internal and external!) and it helps sharpen our perspective when we serve our clients.

This is the Core Exchange, an interview Ward Alles, president of Core Creative, and Kristin Baird, founder of The Baird Group, a company focused on driving change in healthcare by building customer service excellence to transform the patient experience.

Listen to Kristin and Ward discuss the importance of building an emotional connection with employees to get buy-in on your brand promise … and how to best move the C-Suite to get on board with marketing initiatives that are felt internally just as much as they are expressed externally to build “Say It. Live It.” brand alignment.

  • Core Exchange | How Do You Bring Life to Your Brand Promise in Healthcare


Hi, this is Ward Alles with Core Creative. We’ve got the Core Exchange, here today, with Kristin Baird, the founder of the Baird Group. Your company is really focused in on driving change in the healthcare setting, by really developing the customer service, or the patient experience, and trying to improve patient outcomes, by training staff, whether it’s nurses or doctors, around the brand promise?

Absolutely. Really, it’s not only training, it’s also the communication end of things. We want to make sure that the leaders know how to really communicate thoroughly. We want to me make sure that the leaders know that this isn’t smile lessons. In order to really deliver on the brand promise, to deliver a consistently positive patient experience, people have to connect to purpose. So the mission, vision, values shouldn’t be something that is a plaque on the wall.

This is an opportunity to help people understand, in their hearts, what vital role they play in living out that mission, vision, and value. And of course, the brand, with every encounter, with every customer, every single day.

How do you get people that are scientific, they’re medical, they’re clinical, to care about the brand?

You make the connection. You’ve got to make the connection from the head to the heart. I look at storytelling, as a great means to move data from the head to the heart. For instance, you might have patient satisfaction data, that is showing that you have problems with communication. People might feel like, “No, we’re communicating very well.”

When we go in, and do mystery shopping, for example, we would be using ethnography, to observe, what are the communication patterns between the doctor and the patient, or the nurse and the patient? What is the emotional response of the patient? Then, we’d come back, and we would share the story of, “This is what we observed. This is what the patient told us.”

By taking that story, we’re able to say, “Here’s what the data said, but here’s what Mrs. Jones said, when you came in, and talked to her, at 2 o’clock, on Tuesday afternoon.” By using stories, that are real, we’re moving the information from the head to the heart. With your brand, you want to make sure that people have an emotional connection.

Before the consumer can have that emotional connection, you got to make sure your employees do too. That they are the guardians of the brand. Every encounter, with every customer, every single day, is their opportunity to preserve that brand promise, to deliver on it.

You know, you said something, earlier, about reaching people emotionally. At Core, we talk about reaching, and teaching, and moving, that new healthcare consumer. We talk about new, because they so informed now, they’re engaged, they have choices, they’re searching for healthcare solutions online. But to move them to take action, you have to appeal to them emotionally. You also said, you start with why, or the purpose behind the healthcare system.

That too is a Core tenent. It’s the Simon Sinek model of starting with why. It’s something we hold near and dear to our hearts and try to bring to the attention of our clients. At the c-suite, do you see them accepting the concept of starting with why? Or do you have to do a lot of convincing, that’s the way to improve quality outcomes, within their healthcare system?

I think that some of the c-suite are very driven by the why. when others, really are going to be driven by the bottom line, right? Part of the art and science, here, is speaking the three key languages; head, heart and wallet. The head part is the business imperative. You know, what we know about the bottom line, and how the business is impacted, when you can build customer loyalty, and therefore, market share over time.

The heart, why? Because it’s the right thing to do. We’re doing the right thing by the people of our community, by the people we serve.

Then, of course, the wallet, then there’s the bottom line. We know we have fewer lawsuits, when we have highly satisfied patients. We can build market share, we can increase patient loyalty, we can improve outcomes in a value based purchasing environment. So you have to be prepared to speak the three languages in any one of those c-suite discussions.

Then, finally, can you tell a story about how you helped a healthcare system, or a medical practice, go from a rather tough situation and really improve their culture, over time. Understand it takes time, but does any story come to mind, that you’d like to share, as what’s possible, when you audit correctly up front, strategize together, and put a game plan together, to train around the brand?

Yeah, I can definitely think of one example, and it was in a very troubled market. It was highly unionized, it was a huge system, they had been through really rough times, financially, they had a reduction in force, there was a real lack of trust. Coming back, with that culture assessment, and being able to tell the leaders, “You know, there’s a real lack of trust.”

From what I observed, the leaders were acting very responsibly, for the sake, as stewards of the organizations. As stewards of this healthcare resource, that was so essential in their community. So the decisions they had made were solid, but now, they were in a place of recovery. They had to earn the trust back, of their employees, and in turn, the trust of their patients.

So part of that was helping the leaders become comfortable saying, “It’s a new day. We’re going to embrace what has happened, and we’re going to put it in the past, and embrace today, as a new day. Here’s what you can expect from us.” So helping those leaders to articulate, very clearly, what people could expect.

Then, moving forward with leadership development, so that the frontline managers knew what to say and how to say it. Not only communication, but they became better coaches. They were setting forth expectations, so that everybody knew what to do, how to do it, and would want to do it. Then, at the same time, we rolled out training.

We call our training, Power of One. It’s named that for a very good reason. We want every person, in the organization, to recognize that he, or she, has the power, within them, to make a difference in the lives of those they serve, by getting them excited again. Whether were the security guard, or the maintenance man, or the person delivering food trays, or a nurse, getting people excited again, and thinking about, we are not this organization without you. You have the opportunity to be the face of this brand, of this organization, during every encounter.

It really helped to build a sense of pride. Once that started happening, people took the whole initiative more seriously. It was supportive to the leaders. The leaders, then, in turn, could be more supportive of the people.

Then, a final question would be around the role of an agency. What role can we play to support you in building a really healthy culture around that health system’s brand promise?

I think there definitely is opportunity to support one another. There’s nothing I get more excited about, than very clear brand strategy, when an agency is working with the executives on that strategy. To be able to bring in, what is the strategy around patient experience, or human experience. Because it’s going to be more than patients, it’s going to be your employees, it’s going to be your providers, it’s going to be your visitors, it’s going to be the community. So what is the strategy around the human experience? You can’t have one without the other, so I think they dovetail beautifully.

Okay, Kris. Thank you so much for that information about the Baird Group. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, to help healthcare systems, around the country, improve how they deliver on the brand promise, and really impact peoples lives.

I definitely agree that there are opportunities out there. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. It is absolutely my pleasure.


Ward Alles is the President and Brand Consultant at Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice.

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