Brand storytelling in healthcare

Emotional decision-making makes it more important than ever for healthcare communications to resonate with audiences on a deeper level.

Brand communications across all industries are experiencing a shift in perception. Whether due to a lack of trust or consumer cynicism, it’s no longer enough to simply tell people ‘what’ you do. 

Instead, brands are finding greater success in communicating ‘why’ they do what they do. At Rationale, we would describe this as thinking less about marketing and more about storytelling. And nowhere is this approach needed more than within healthcare. 

Gallup research from the past year shows that 70% of purchasing decisions come from an emotional response¹, rather than a rational one. This means that establishing brand preference and lasting relationships with an audience becomes easier when content speaks to them on an unconscious, relatable level.

A new approach to healthcare communications

In a time when marketing fatigue and financial uncertainty make it difficult to reach audiences, brand storytelling is fundamental to unlocking stronger and more consistent buy-in. Within the healthcare industry, this can be even more challenging. 

The needs of healthcare consumers are nuanced and demand a sensitive approach —even without considering the challenge of trying to sell healthcare services during a time of rising inflation, ongoing staffing issues, and growing hospital waiting times.

Healthcare providers must show an awareness of their patients’ increasingly diverse needs and challenges. Again, the way to achieve this can be by taking a story-led approach.

Developing your healthcare story

As with any story, brand storytelling is about presenting a conflict your audience can relate to.

  • Conflict – This is the challenge or pain point your audience is looking to overcome.
  • Progress – What steps can be taken to resolve pain points? What solutions can your brand offer?
  • Resolution – Where do you want your audience to end up? What actions do you want them to take? 

This framework is the first step towards creating impactful brand messaging. However, telling an effective story within healthcare also relies on an in-depth awareness of your specific audience and their expectations. 

Here are 6 techniques to help you further develop your healthcare brand story:   

1. Know and empathise with your audience

People’s health needs are as complex as they are sensitive, so be sure to reflect and relate to specific concerns. Within visual content, it can help to focus on individuals in their everyday life rather than a clinical setting. Within brand copy, contextualise your services within what your audience desires and expects to address their health worries.

2. Highlight relatable benefits

Now that you’ve identified the challenges, it’s time to offer solutions. 

This should be more than simply a features list, instead highlighting how healthcare products or services benefit the person. Bear in mind the common anxieties related to healthcare and use the opportunity to position your brand as an approachable and helpful service provider. 

Focus on outcomes that match what your audience expects and what they mean on an emotional level. Will your service alleviate someone’s worries? Will it give them confidence? Will it support them on a daily basis?

3. Go beyond thought leadership

Research and statistics are vital in showing knowledge and authority within healthcare communications. 

However, it’s important to put these in terms that people will understand and to present data and research in a digestible, accessible way. Complement sources of expertise by communicating how the healthcare solutions you provide can give peace of mind or support people beyond treatment. 

4. Explore new content formats

People now expect more from a brand than just ads and white papers. 

Communicating your stories through long-form but accessible formats like podcasts and video can be a more engaging way of providing in-depth insights and highlighting benefits to your audience. 

This also allows you to approach health concerns and solutions less directly, embedding your brand within broader talking points and topics. This is vital for growing brand recognition within an increasingly crowded marketing and communications space.

5. Let people go at their own pace

The move towards digital healthcare services makes it easier than ever to offer supporting resources that your audience can access and consume at their own pace. 

Self-serve online content like video explainers and downloadable guides can help you tell an in-depth brand story across multiple formats and lengths. This supports buy-in at all stages of the customer journey.

6. Be direct without being forceful

This means showing honesty, integrity, and transparency. Healthcare is most effective when positioned as helping alleviate worries or providing understanding. It helps to reflect this approach in your storytelling by using concise language and a clear call to action. 

This is particularly important for health tech brands, where emerging technologies like AI can bring with them a level of uncertainty. Telling an accessible and honest brand story can go a long way towards building trust in your products for patients and clinicians. 

Storytelling with impact

For brands looking to stand out in a crowded and uncertain market, the most engaging voice is the one that tells the most compelling story.

At Rationale, we support brands to create impact with their communications. We work with you to develop relevant, story-driven messaging that captivates your audience. 

If you’re looking to elevate your brand storytelling, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at 

¹Customer Brand Preference and Decisions: Gallup’s 70/30 Principle. Gallup. 2022.