A clear verbal identity is vital for a healthy hospital brand.

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Customers Define Your Brand

Standing out in a sea of same.

If you’ve never heard the term “verbal identity” before, that’s ok. It means you’re not a copy nerd. However, it is a concept you need to know, for reasons I’ll explain shortly.

First, a definition.

In its simplest terms, your verbal identity consists of two components:

1. Your content.

2. The style in which that content speaks to your audiences.

At the surface, content means all the information customers expect from you: products, locations, ingredients, services, and history. From a marketing perspective, content also includes assets like blogs, social posts, white papers, and videos.

In short, the content you publish is where brand delivers value to customers. However, it’s worthless if no one pays attention.

While that seems obvious, every minute of every day on every screen, we see brands with unique design and copy that could belong to anybody.

That’s a missed opportunity. And a big mistake, especially for hospitals and health networks.


Given the nature of their services, healthcare marketers are understandably conservative. Your marketing needs to project clinical competency, not edgy branding.

At the same time, when every hospital uses the same words that every other hospital uses to describe and promote themselves, it isn’t healthy for anyone.

In growing cities, healthcare is becoming brutally competitive. Consumers expect and deserve distinct choices, not a menu board that only offers one flavor in 18 colors.

To stay viable and get your share of the available patient traffic, you need to differentiate your brand.

Doing that takes more than a logo and guidelines about fonts and color pallets.

I’ve been thinking about verbal identity a lot lately because, for the last seven months, I’ve been collaborating with Stephanie Helline, creative director and owner of Strategic Design Studio on a white paper created exclusively for healthcare marketing leaders and their teams.

It’s called “Verbal Identity: Why Your Healthcare Organization Needs One Now.”

In it, we look at two healthcare organizations from opposite ends of the geographic and name recognition spectrum, the Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, MN, and Hancock Health, headquartered in Greenfield, IN. (Full disclosure, Hancock Health is a former client of mine.)

Each of these healthcare brands demonstrates clear strategic execution and verbal identities. As a result, their content connects with consumers on a practical and emotional level.


When people start searching for a family practice or urgent care facility, it’s a given that you want them to see you at the top of the results page.

However, that isn’t enough. You want people to see you as authentic and approachable.

Patients don’t just want to know what service lines you offer; they need to feel comfortable and confident about the people they trust with their health.

So when it comes to protecting and growing your market share, you don’t want the patients you need most– insured individuals, families, and new residents–  to overlook or confuse yours with another hospital.

That’s less likely to happen if your content speaks in a voice that’s instantly relatable and immediately recognizable across all your channels.

For a deeper dive into verbal identity, including examples from inside and outside of healthcare and how to create one, download our white paper right now. It’s free, and there’s no contact form to mess with.

On the other hand, if you’d like to talk about how to keep your hospital brand from drowning in the sea of sameness after reading it, you’ll find our contact information on the last page. 

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