Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 22, 2023

The Science Behind Medical Lab Branding

Every company has a brand, whether they’re intentional about it or not. For some, this is as simple as a logo and a slogan, while for others, this gets as precise as a true personality for their company. Organizations spend millions to perfect their company’s unique identity, based on a variety of factors: their industry, products, services, and associations all come together to create the overall image of the company, both to consumers and internal stakeholders.

Medical labs are no different in this regard: they, too, utilize branding and advertising to create a reputation as trustworthy, cost-effective, and adhering to rigorous standards. As the laboratory services market continues to grow, each company needs to differentiate themselves with recognizable, coherent branding in all aspects of their business. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that influence medical lab branding, from their consumer base to their promotional materials.

Branding differs for consumer-facing labs and clinician-focused labs

First, it’s important to note that there are different types of medical laboratories: direct-to-consumer laboratories, where someone can order medical tests without a prescription, and institution-focused labs, which work with hospitals, research institutions and government agencies to perform prescribed tests. Some of the larger lab companies will work with both, but they will likely have slightly different branding for these unique branches of their organization.

Those that work with the public will focus on identifying themselves as trustworthy, honest, and service-focused, with low or no emphasis on their equipment or processes. They need to explain to consumers that their tests are accurate and will be completed in a timely manner, and that their technicians are well-trained and qualified; there will likely be a particular focus on the good deals they provide to consumers, rather than any discussion of the accuracy of their work.

For those that work more with clinicians, their branding focus will be on scientific rigor and advanced equipment. Their advertising materials may list certifications with industry associations, contracts with well-respected research institutions, and how many lab results they are able to process in a given period of time. Given that clinicians are very interested in efficacy, they will likely collect and present statistics to potential clients.

Now that we understand this difference, let’s examine how medical labs apply their branding in everyday life.

Promotional materials are just as popular in the medical lab industry as in other fields

Everyone loves free things, and those seeking medical tests are no exception. For the medical lab industry, it’s very common to give out branded swag at academic conferences and trade shows, including pens, pins, bags, and promotional binders that clinicians or professors can use in their workplace. These might advertise a new, highly specific test that is related to a certain specialty, such as cancer screening or more accurate glucose monitoring, as it’s assumed that those receiving the item will understand the benefits of the given test or will be open to learning about it.

For consumer-facing labs, their promotional materials may be given away at health fairs, and will likely focus more on preventative healthcare, such as regularly checking cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Examples could be water bottles with the lab’s logo, pens that remind the user to get regular health screenings, or handouts with health statistics for the average person.

Branding and advertising must fit strict standards within the medical industry

It’s important to note that branding for any company in the medical industry has to fit highly specific and rigorous standards for accuracy and non-deceptive wording. This is because the stakes are much higher should a consumer or clinician be led astray by false promises; while it may not matter much if you buy a shoddy shoe or cheap purse, an inaccurate lab test could mean the difference between life and death. Lying about one’s product could even result in serious jail time: Theranos Labs founder Elizabeth Holmes, who deceived healthcare providers about the efficacy of her novel blood tests, is now facing over a decade of jail time.

While it’s unlikely that the stakes will be that dire for most medical labs, the regulations limit what can be said and how, so it’s important that those working on branding for their lab carefully read the advertising regulations in their jurisdiction, and consider working with a marketing agency with experience working with healthcare companies. Performing due diligence can prevent serious fines that will negatively impact your reputation amongst consumers and clinicians.

Overall, medical lab branding differs from that in other industries through a steadfast focus on results, and in that there are separate marketing strategies depending on whether the lab works with consumers or clinicians. However, many of the same principles and marketing strategies, such as promotional materials and networking, are just as effective in this field as in any other industry.

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