In the early days of Activate Health, our leaders were primarily seen as experts in health insurance and health system marketing. We collaborated with many large, national healthcare organizations looking to engage providers, market to consumers and expand the reach of strong (existing) brands. But along the way, we also became sought-after by clients looking to target these very same organizations through B2B healthcare branding and marketing.

Many of these companies were in the health technology space. These clients face their own specific roadblocks, especially if their solutions are high-cost and highly complex to sell, e.g. requiring the buy-in of C-suite executives. As such, this new breed of client needed assistance in developing a health technology branding approach from the ground up, one that built awareness and helped differentiate their company in the increasingly crowded health IT space.

That’s precisely where we come in. Activate Health has developed a proprietary health technology branding framework that can optimize marketing for all types of companies—from population health systems to data analytics, patient notifications and care management software providers. Yet we realize that many startups and smaller organizations may not have the budget to work with a health technology branding firm from day one. So we’ve taken a few of the most important considerations we use when implementing this process to help companies of all sizes think through their branding or rebranding approach.

Whether you’re looking to find a health technology branding firm to partner on this approach, or need to undertake these efforts on your own, below are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind.

Start with the basics. The use of straightforward, highly-targeted messages is key to any company’s success, but it’s especially valuable in health IT. Many health technology organizations rely on messaging that is highly-detailed and internally focused—like product features and technical specs. This approach has little impact on C-suite buyers especially, who are inundated with marketing outreach efforts and may not have the technical knowledge to understand these claims. That’s why the most basic “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) marketing 101 approach still applies as a foundation for good health technology branding, and in turn, powerful messaging.

Don’t be afraid to get personal. When we first ask our clients about their target audience, they all-too often respond that they are targeting “health plans” or “health systems.” Even their own marketing staff may lack a clear understanding of the individual buyers. Yet the strongest brands address a customer’s own pain points, using messaging that resonates with them on a personal level. This seems obvious, but is too often ignored when companies consider their customers to be organizations rather than individuals. Instead, strategic marketers must seek to understand these buyers and influencers on a deeper level, including their wants, needs, preferences and preconceptions about an industry and a particular brand’s place in it. This often requires extensive research—which Activate Health conducts through our Discovery Process—and subsequently, the development of personas for each set of buyers and influencers. In summary, just because you consider yourself a “B2B marketer” doesn’t mean you can skip this important step.

Know who—and what—you’re up against. Competitors abound in the world of health IT. So if your brand-building process doesn’t include a competitive review and analysis, you have no way of knowing whether your key differentiators are just that—truly different. That’s why at Activate Health, our Discovery Process also includes a comprehensive competitive and industry trends analysis to help our customers understand their unique place in the marketplace and how they can tap into both challenges and opportunities.

Audit your existing messaging and brand. Unless you’re a startup, you likely already have a set of marketing strategies and tactics in place, and they are a part of your existing brand, whether your customers feel good, bad or indifferent about them. Any successful health technology branding process needs to acknowledge these existing perceptions by including an audit of what your brand is already communicating in the market today. This will help you bridge the gap between your aspirational brand and your existing one. Learn how to do a messaging audit.

Tap into the emotional. The very best brands always make an emotional appeal. How does this work in the B2B space? Your buyer may be looking to simplify highly complex aspects of their business in order make their job easier. They may have been burned by high-cost systems or software that failed to deliver on the promises sold to them initially, and lack confidence in their abilities to find a new partner. Understanding this emotional state is the job of a savvy marketer—even in the world of B2B health technology branding. Read more about the power of emotional branding.

But don’t overlook the visual. Yes, key messages are still key—but visual perceptions of your brand aren’t just a consideration in consumer marketing. B2B buyers make a connection with your brand through the imagery, identity and other visual aspects of your marketing efforts, too. That’s why an existing company that has been around for years may consider updating its logo, colors, typefaces and design guidelines. So even if you believe that your visual brand stands the test of time, you’ll want to conduct preliminary research to see if your buyers and influencers agree.

Know your limits. If you’re overwhelmed by the through of undertaking all of these research and brand building efforts, a strong health technology branding agency can help. Not only will the agency be able to give you a valuable third-party perspective, but if the firm has extensive healthcare experience, they may have firsthand familiarity working with the very buyers you are targeting. If you’re ready to take that leap, contact Activate Health to get the process started.