As the healthcare landscape continues to shift, Transcend Hospice Marketing Group would like to share some insights we see continuing to build this year – and how they affect the marketing opportunities and challenges for our clients coast-to-coast as well as Transcend.

This blog entry is the second in a series that looks at hospice organizations contending with the changing healthcare and marketing environments.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Affiliations. A growing number of hospice organizations are finding strength in numbers – especially among not-for-profit providers. Transcend is working with or talking with providers in various parts of our nation who are joining forces to form a larger entity or a collaborative affiliation.

As that happens, the participants are asking if they should retain their individual brands or form a new, single entity? If they keep their individual brands, should they create a brand for the affiliation? How can they share marketing resources and gain efficiencies?

The first blog entry in this series discussed similar branding questions as hospice organizations diversify their service lines beyond hospice care. Many organizations have a hard time letting go of their hospice brand name that has served their respective communities for 30 years or so. One effective way to gauge the degree of brand equity is to do statistically significant research among the target audiences. Transcend has found that, typically, fewer than 10 percent of family healthcare decision makers can correctly name a single hospice brand in their communities with unaided recall (which means asking the open-ended question of “Who are the providers of hospice care in your community?”)

If equity isn’t high for an existing brand, it’s a little easier to make the decision to form a new, unified brand for the joint entity. Significant advantages exist for a single, unified brand. As providers offer a true continuum of care, it’s easier to build relationships with patients and families earlier in the continuum and refer downstream to a service line with the same trusted brand name. A single brand also allows complete continuity and consistency in promoting one brand name rather than supporting several brands.

Still, we often see collaborating providers insist on keeping their individual hospice brand names intact. In that case, we frequently recommend developing a brand for the affiliation. The affiliation brand serves as an endorser of quality and provides a cohesive thread to mark the relationship of all participating providers as well as their service lines. You see this approach in the consumer goods world with products that are tagged “SC Johnson – a Family Company.” An endorser brand also can work well for other services targeted toward older adults, even if it’s a planned community for aging in place.

Other questions and challenges exist regardless of which route you prefer for branding an affiliation of providers and services. Transcend can help give perspective to an approach that makes sense for your goals. Contact Jon Marker, business development manager, to begin the conversation.

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