Okay—time for some tough love.
Is your hospital guilty of bad design? Was your website created ten years ago? Does it look like it was created ten years ago? Is your existing logo modern, compelling, and representative of your values? Or does it look like everybody else? If I saw an ad for your hospital would I immediately know whom it represented?
As a graphic designer, I spend a lot of time looking at websites, ads, and logos of hospitals. Most of this time, to be honest, is spent in a state of dismay. There is a lot of very poor design out there for what I imagine are some first-rate institutions. And while I will be the first person to argue that appearances aren’t everything, I would be remiss in not emphasizing the importance of good design in maintaining a hospital’s image.
While ultimately it is the care and concern given by your staff that will retain patients, very often good design can give them a correct sense of your values in the first place. It does this through: (1) Differentiation; (2) and Identification.
Differentiation is especially important for organizations in industries that provide very similar services. Hospitals certainly fall into that category. While particular offerings depend on the size, location, and specialties of a hospital, patients are always expecting their health to be valued, monitored, and protected.
One way to emphasize your hospital’s distinctive care is through branding that reflects the strengths and goals of your institution in a way graphically apart from your peers.
Many hospital logos are similar and fail to give a sense of modernity, even if they represent state-of-the-art institutions. I’m not arguing for something completely out-of-the-box—you have a wide audience to appeal to—but I am arguing for taking a good, honest look at your logo and branding to see if you are putting forth an image you really believe in.
If you are not a marketing or design expert, make sure you get input from somebody who is. It is not your job to be a designer, and neither should it be. Trust someone whose expertise can bring your hospital’s values graphically to life.
Good design identifies an organization from first glance. The color, line, texture, and detail of a logo or ad or website are consistent, modern (even if traditional), and cohesive. A viewer should get the same feeling from all of your work, even if there are differences in spotlighted services or staff. In this sense, even if all your text suddenly turned to Latin, a patient would be able to distinguish the work as yours.
Let good design identify you as caring, capable, and consistent.
Differentiation and identification through design is especially important in an age of social media. Patients are going to be encountering you in many different venues and it’s always a good idea to be exceeding expectations.
If a family member of a patient follows a Tweet to your website, are they going to be disappointed or unimpressed? Or is strong design going to give them even more confidence in your abilities? If a person considering surgery reads about you on your Facebook page and then sees an ad in the paper, will they recognize a consistency in your message and presentation?
If you’re making the jump to social media, then you’re already concerned about the modern patient. Let good design help your hospital’s status as a leader stand out.