Why Brand Marketing Matters

And How to Measure Impact

Jun 28, 2023 | Kate Domin - Doximity Marketing Associate

There’s an age-old discussion among marketers about the benefits of brand versus performance marketing. While performance marketing gained popularity for its measurability, recently industry leaders are reaffirming the need for dedicated brand-focused marketing, too. And, while it can be easy to think that brand marketing is only important as it is related to hospital survey season or rankings, it’s fundamental to consider brand marketing as an ongoing part of your strategy, one that will support and enhance your performance marketing. In fact, a recent article from the Harvard Business Review argues that performance and brand marketing can and should work together. The authors suggest that “pitting brand building and performance marketing against each other in a competition for budget unnecessarily damages the effectiveness of both.” Instead, marketing teams must reevaluate the metrics they use to measure brand and performance marketing, which all roll up to the “North Star” metric: brand equity. 

The authors are not alone in their perspective. At HMPS this spring, MultiCare CEO Bill Roberston joined Jerry Hobbs, President of PrairieDog, to talk about this exact conundrum in healthcare: the tension between brand and acquisition marketing. Like many other industry leaders, Bill believes that brand is the main driver of long-term growth. While investing strategically in brand campaigns, MultiCare realigned on brand-focused metrics, like market penetration and growth, to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. However, MultiCare also recognizes the value of pursuing acquisition marketing concurrently to leverage the synergy of these tactics in tandem for their overall marketing strategies.

Still, it is not sufficient to think of these styles of marketing as two equally important strategies and simultaneously run campaigns on both objectives. Teams have to align on the same brand goals and adhere to that “North Star” metric. Performance marketing needs to be evaluated for its potential to impact the brand as a whole among the target audience. Any messaging deployed in performance campaigns has the potential to either reinforce the carefully crafted brand identity or undermine that identity. If the latter is the case, even if the performance marketing metrics show ROI results, the long-term impact on the brand could be damaging. It’s only possible to measure this impact with brand-specific metrics. 

Furthermore, brand marketing can have a significant impact on your organizational goals like hiring and retention, as well as the bottom line. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports an estimated shortage of as many as 124,000 physicians by 2034. Hospital and health system brands can influence the hiring and retention of top physician talent. Brand perception has also been shown to impact physician referral behavior, and it can play a significant role in influencing patients seeking care or self-referring.

Investing in long-term, consistent, and measured brand marketing can have considerable upside. If your brand-aligned performance marketing provides easily demonstrable ROI, consider the additional synergy possible between these two strategies. You can effectively offset the expenses of brand awareness campaigns. 

Curious to learn more about what a tandem approach with brand awareness and referral performance marketing looks like on Doximity? Read this case study to learn more.