Brand Strategy

Warning: Your Healthcare Ad may Cause Drowsiness

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Shelley DauSchmidt

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In healthcare, consumers are more empowered than ever before. Between self-diagnosing online, the Affordable Care Act, telehealth and completely redesigned 21st Century doctor’s offices, patients have options that never existed previously.

With all these choices available, what can you do to stand out and have them choose you?

Now more than ever, marketing plays a significant factor in leveraging your brand. Impactful, memorable messaging can maximize your ROI. Make your marketing dollars go farther with proper creative.

Effective ads resonate with the consumer, raising the impact of your ad placement. A key factor in determining effective creative is making sure yours is memorable; that it stands out.

And standing out is not a common practice in healthcare. At LSB, we’ve worked with a number of healthcare clients, performing extensive in-category research to understand trends. “Commoditization of communications” is a phrase we use often.

Over the past few decades, the category has developed conventions on how to communicate and that causes everyone looks the same. Almost all healthcare messaging can be winnowed down to two tactics:

  • Expertise

    Typically portrayed by a doctor in a white lab coat, with their arms folded, standing in front of a team or equipment.


  • OR

  • Nurturing

    Often featuring a smiling nurse with a wonderful bedside manner, hugging their smiling patient.


(Case in point; it took roughly five seconds to find these images)

More often than not, it’s a combination of both. So the tagline you’ll hear from the industry becomes some variation of this:

Smart and Caring

If your company falls under any of those descriptions, then odds are you look and sound like everyone else in your marketplace.

It’s been proven that the way to make your brand memorable is to be distinctive and not follow conventions. When all ads look and feel the same, consumers have trouble distinguishing one company from the next.

How can you differentiate yourself? The answer may be simpler than you think. You can still foster confidence while doing something that sets you apart. In this day and age, following the status quo of your competitors is the worst thing you can do for your brand.

Be unique. Be unexpected. Be original.

Here are three tips to stand out

  • Leverage original imagery

Stock photography has its place. It’s great for filler images, or when you need sheer quantity (think tertiary website pages); but stock is available for everyone, and therefore used by everyone across the board, uniformly. Original photography can be an investment, but it’s a worthwhile one.

  • Remove yourself from the equation

In the consumer’s eye, ignorance can be bliss. Our research has consistently shown people don’t want to think about healthcare. They want to go through their lives assuming things won’t happen to them. Medical imagery can become unwelcome white noise to your consumer.

So what can you do to stand out, and get patients’ attention? Remove yourself from the equation. By removing all mentions of doctors and the visual trope of lab coats, you’ve already set yourself apart from your competitors.

  • Make it about “them”

Selling someone your medical services is not the same as selling someone a Coke.

From our research, we’ve found that patients don’t want to hear about you, the healthcare provider. They want to hear about themselves.

This is not a want category; this is a need category. People do not pay close attention to healthcare advertising unless they have an immediate need. They don’t get excited about healthcare brands like they would about a new bike or a new iPhone.

This also means no patient stories. Talk about consumer’s lives, not their experience getting healthcare.

Instead, provide something they can get excited about. Focus on the consumer living their life. By making it about them, you’ve gotten the viewer’s attention, as they see some of their own interests reflected in the message.

So go. Be experts in your field. Be inspirational. But whatever you do, don’t blend in.

Shelley DauSchmidt

Can name all 50 states in under 30 seconds.

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