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UK HealthCare branding effort demonstrates importance of marketing

One of the most difficult challenges we encounter in strategic communications and marketing are the questions about return on investment.


Is what we do -- whether on the earned or paid media front - worth it to the institution's bottom-line?


A new branding campaign, recently initiated by UK HealthCare, provides some good, early indications that it is -- particularly when you consider that return on the investment can be measured in a number of ways, from increased customers to increased pride among key constituencies.


UK HealthCare's broad-based branding campaign -- "That's Why We Are Here" -- creates compelling images of -- and narratives about -- the kind of high-tech, high-touch care that can be provided at academic medical centers. All of the ads - including TV, internet, print, billboards and buses -- present UK HealthCare's message through first-hand accounts by patients, the folks who know best about the care provided. One example is here: http://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/sally/


Bill Gombeski, UK HealthCare's director of strategic marketing, said the tag for the campaign came about like all good branding campaigns do -- from research. UK HealthCare has an ongoing dialogue with employee and patient advisory groups on campus, at the medical center, among physicians and in the community.


The goal of the campign, Gombeski said, is to "raise awareness of our advanced medicine role," which will help continue to grow the patient base in areas important to health-care in the state while also increasing employee and patient pride in the work done by UK HealthCare.


Gombeski said the early response to the campaign has been good. Patient and employee response has been positive, and perhaps most tellingly, calls are up from referring physicians.


The campaign, in my judgment, accomplishes what the best kind of branding efforts do - it reinforces key strategic messages that separate the institution from others. In this case, UK HealthCare's differentiator, if you will, is that it provides advanced, subspecialty care that can't be provided in other places.


As Mike Karpf, UK's executive vice president for health affairs, often says: a Kentuckian should be able to wake up in any corner of the state, knowing that no matter how sick they are, they can receive the best of care at UK HealthCare.


"That's Why We Are Here" underscores that powerful message in meaningful ways.






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