6 rules for the collaborative branding of partnered health systems

A Sept. 9 article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology examined cobranding strategies for academic radiology practices considering partnership-based network expansion,

Authors Megan Kalambo, MD, and Jay Parikh, MD, with the department of radiology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, detailed the benefits and risks associated with such partnerships.

  • Potential benefits of cobranding include increased product awareness, improved assimilation and shared marketing resources. Two brands are better than one. Strategic cobranding can be used to capitalize on existing brand values in academic radiology and community health systems. Two brand names may also provide greater assurance about product and service quality than one brand name on its own.
  • Threats to successful cobranding are lack of shared vision, branding dilution, confusion by consumers and poor execution. A poorly executed partnership could result in both a weakened brand and customer confusion. If a customer has a poor experience with one brand, they could project that perception onto the other brand when she becomes aware of the association. Proper leadership, operating resources and communication channels should be in place at the beginning of contract negotiation to ensure the environment is conducive to an effective collaboration.
  • Name, logo and signage are key to successful cobranding and should be developed during the early phases of partnership contract negotiations. When naming the new partnership, names of both entities should be to ensure that both are given equal prominence in the partnership. Logos for the partnership may be a mesh of both entities or it can be a completely new logo.
  • Strategies to market cobranded partnerships to referring physicians include the use of physician liaisons and radiologist engagement in hospital-based committees and activities to demonstrate value. Because much of the radiology business is based on referrals, a positive relationship between referring physicians and radiology practices is vital. Using a physician liaison may ensure much of their work focuses on communication with community physicians and the retention and growth of the referral system. Another way of ensuring positive relationships during collaborative branding is for radiologists to establish good working relationships with physicians who are part of other service areas.
  • Strategies to market a cobranded partnership to patients include the use of newsletters, uniform cobranded signage in office areas with high traffic, fundraisers and patient-friendly community talks. Patient marketing and informational materials are key to a successful cobranding partnership. Keeping communication at the center of the relationship between radiologists and patients is crucial. Radiologists can find opportunities to speak at community educational events, attend community fundraisers and host meet-and-greets at imaging facilities.