Emory Healthcare’s World-Class Reputation Defined It — and That Was a Problem

September 4, 2023

The Atlanta academic medical center had to figure out how to convince patients that, while it takes care of the sickest of the sick, it also provides routine medical care.

// By Ron Shinkman //

Ron ShinkmanThere are hospitals and health systems with reputations verging on veneration.

But for all the world-renowned research and medical breakthroughs that occur at such institutions, the average person sometimes doesn’t realize that these famous hospitals also provide bread-and-butter clinical services. That can make it a challenge to attract patients seeking routine care.

Emory Healthcare was facing such a challenge. Its connections to Atlanta are as strong as the ties between Cleveland Clinic and the Rust Belt city it serves. But in the face of industry consolidation and competing health systems in Atlanta, Emory has had to rebrand more than once to change perceptions and attract new patients.

Amy Comeau, vice president of marketing, Emory Healthcare

Amy Comeau, vice president of marketing, Emory Healthcare

“Everybody knows us for the tertiary and quaternary care, but we want them to come for their primary and secondary care as well,” says Amy Comeau, Emory Healthcare’s vice president of marketing. “We don’t want to walk away from what makes us unique, but we needed to start to chip away at that perspective — we are an accessible brand for everyone, not just for the really, really complicated care.”

Emory’s brand initiatives were explored in depth during a recent Strategic Health Care Marketing webinar, “Brand Differentiation for Health Systems: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Market and Drive Business Results.” Comeau presented with Shannon Curran, president of the Chicago-area firm SPM Marketing & Communications. SPM has been Emory’s marketing firm of record since 2015.

Kicking off the conversation about the importance of a strong and enduring brand, Comeau observes, “Marketing is like asking someone on a date. Branding is the reason they say ‘yes’.” Here, we share highlights from Emory’s brand story, and positive results from its most recent campaign.

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