There may not be a more powerful marketing tool than the brand experience. It can help challenger brands steal market share from incumbents, turn customers into passionate advocates and in Children’s Hospital Colorado’s case, even advance patient healing.
THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
Imagine how intimidating a hospital visit or stay can be for a child. Sterile, cold, institutional, and with unfamiliar faces that inevitably bring pain. Most hospitals are not a kid’s favorite place to hang out.
Yet, Children’s Hospital Colorado has created a brand experience that not only helps kids better cope with emotional stress and heal faster but has also built a brand advocate of one mother and a loyal customer of a small boy.
A FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S EXPERIENCE
The first time my son Russell entered the Children’s Hospital Colorado, he thought it was a play center. The grand entrance is open, airy, filled with natural light and designed with cheerful colors. Any anxiety Russell had about being poked and prodded vanished as he (and I) soaked in the colorful environment.
Russell had so many wonderful distractions on the way to his appointment: a ball maze, a life-size purple cow, wall collages that look like snowflakes from a distance. (But get closer and you notice the snowflakes are baseball players or greyhounds chasing rabbits.)
CHC uses color therapy and art to provide a welcome distraction and engage kids, which helps them heal faster and, in Russell’s case, ease anxieties. As research shows that natural light and views of nature help kids heal physically and mentally, CHC recovery areas and patient rooms include floor-to-ceiling windows and views of Colorado’s landscape.
THAT WASN’T SO BAD
We enter the brightly lit and welcoming exam room, which includes toys and child-sized chairs. The nurses and doctors are friendly and upbeat, and they quickly befriend Russell. The doctor logs into CHC’s central database, which captures every visit, diagnosis, surgery and prescription. No paperwork getting misplaced. No deciphering physicians’ notoriously poor handwriting. No pressure on me to keep a log of every single detail. As a mother, I was thrilled. As a direct marketer, I was impressed. The doctor explains to Russell the test he will perform in a manner that a four-year-old can understand, and Russell leaves willingly with the nurse.
As I await his return, I don’t hear much—literally. CHC employs sound-reducing materials because studies show noisy hospitals lengthen recovery times. Medical machines have silencers, and specially designed acoustic ceiling panels keep voices from carrying. The neonatal ICU even has rubberized floor tiles to deafen the sound of footsteps.
PARENTS NEED SUPPORT TOO
CHC recognizes that hospital visits and stays can be emotionally stressful for parents, especially those of children with serious illnesses. CHC provides free valet parking and red wagons to easily transport children and gear through the hospital.
Private patient rooms include sofa beds so parents can stay close to their children, and a concierge service helps with everyday tasks such as laundry and travel arrangements.
THREE LESSONS FOR MARKETERS
Use research to help define the experience your target needs or wants: CHC incorporates scientifically proven methods and factors in its facility design and approach to patient care to advance patient healing.
Understand what other factors affect your target’s experience:CHC recognizes that when parents are less stressed, their children are less stressed, which, in turn, helps speed up a child’s recovery. CHC services that help ease parents’ stress levels ultimately help patients.
Evolve your brand experience over time: CHC has added a lemonade cart that strolls through the hospital, and the hospital offers KidStreet, a garden that is wheelchair accessible and built with materials that are dust-free and do not attract bees.
What great brand experience have you had recently?
by Daphne Fink-Taber
General Manager – gyro Denver
Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network