The way you talk to your existing and potential patients through your hospital or clinic marketing can make or break your brand's strength in a competitive marketplace. That's why you should make your healthcare branding efforts painstaking and intentional.

Here are four handy tips for making your hospital or clinic brand an impactful one.

1. Lead with Your Team

If you think about a retail brand you particularly enjoy, often times it can live or die by its frontline customer service or salespeople. If you have a lousy in-store experience, you're unlikely to return and you're more likely to dissuade friends and family from patronizing that brand. While physicians and other clinic and hospital staff members aren't "salespeople," they still serve as the face of your brand and the most direct, one-to-one contact with your end consumers—your patients. Make use of these familiar faces in your branding—especially those with the most positive patient feedback. Make your team members part of your patients' families.

2. Emphasize Your Uniqueness

It's far too easy for consumers to tune out healthcare brands that use heavily used and generalized phrases such as "quality care" and "your health is our priority." You know what's less apt to being quickly skimmed over or forgotten? Phrases such as, "the only clinic in the area with late-night walk-in hours" or "the first hospital in the city with a pediatric specialist on staff daily." Find what makes your hospital or clinic brand truly unique—and make it a part of your messaging strategy. Be specific—and don't be afraid to crow about yourself. Your core values are even more effective to a potential patient when they have action and evidence to support them.

3. Live Out Your Mission 

Consumer brands by and large are becoming more mission-driven to meet the demand of younger generations. So brands, including healthcare ones, can benefit from standing for something. In fact, according to Boston Consulting Group, brands that are purposeful or emphasize authenticity and responsible business practices are outpacing conventional brands in growth. So find out what your hospital or clinic stands for—what unique values will make you appealing to your target consumer? Live out your stated mission in your brand—it makes for a more cohesive experience, from appointment-setting to settling up the bill.

4. Be Realistic

While not every hospital or clinic has the ability to invest in quality marketing photography, it's still important that your imagery reflect the community, state or region you're targeting. Identify your core audiences—existing, eventual and hopeful—and hold a mirror up to them through your image choices. Shy away from overly staged or clichéd composition, and make sure your end consumer sees him or herself in your branding. Healthcare is an everyday need—depict it naturally and realistically across your materials.

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