Why is Health Care Branding Design Essential?

Jan 25 2024

By: Mandy Pittman

Lobby at UNC Health Eastowne

Health care buildings not only provide a safe setting to deliver quality medical care to a community, but they are also a physical embodiment of a health care organization’s values and quality of care.

A well-defined and executed brand creates opportunities to highlight what makes your organization unique, elevate the user experience, and to better connect your organization to the community and with new partnerships.  

Benefits of Branding Design 

For many users, building design plays a pivotal role in their perceptions of the quality of the services provided and the organization’s brand. Incorporating a health care organization’s unique branding into the design of the space can help illustrate the organization’s values and its commitment to quality care in every space.  

Quality branded design can positively benefit health care systems in numerous ways, including: 

  • Increasing Consumer Retention and Customer Acquisition – The quality of care a health care institution provides is the primary driver of consumer retention. Users are more likely to become loyal customers and recommend your organization to friends and family when they have positive experiences within the space. Branding design can help create positive user experiences by increasing a patient’s feelings of safety, comfort, and agency.  

  • Strengthening Staff Retention and Efficiency – Health care staff are the backbone of any hospital. Just like consumers, staff members are looking for a work environment that is safe, clean, and aligns with their values and needs. Creating consistent users’ experiences throughout a health care campus and across various locations increases operational efficiency for staff members and shows them that the organization prioritizes staff.  

  • Attracting New Talent and Partnerships – Building a consistent brand image can help bolster a health care organization’s reputation. Health care jobs are in high demand and health care chains are constantly looking to expand and form new partnerships.  
Wake Forest Baptist High Point 2nd Floor Lobby

Utilizing Your Designers’ Toolbox

Health care projects pose several unique challenges for design teams. When designing any health care environment, selecting materials that are code-compliant is paramount. These codes are in place to help keep users safe, keep the facility clean, and to ensure staff can work efficiently.  

Most health care facilities are required to comply with codes from the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI). These guidelines detail and define what materials can and cannot be used in each area of a health care facility from outpatient to inpatient. FGI is becoming a broader standard for health care design and emphasizes the importance of infection control and patient/staff safety.  

Even though these codes limit the materials designers can use in a health care setting, these codes do not limit the designers’ creativity. Designers use these important guidelines and a toolbox of their knowledge to inform their finish and furniture selection to create spaces that are not only safe, but comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.  

“Far-gone are the days of sterile environments with VCT, 2×2 ceramic mosaic tile bathroom floors with grout, and minimal graphics creating an institutional feel. Most manufacturers provide durable options that support infection control with visuals you would see in a hospitality application, allowing us to create environments that give an inviting, home-like aesthetic with unique textures, materials, and graphics. This is important when developing branding standards for an organization.”
Mandy Pittman, MHAworks Health Care Interior Designer


Branding Design Isn’t Limited to Colors and Logos

Branding design can be incorporated into any health care space. Branding design goes beyond simply incorporating company colors and logos, it is about creating consistent experiences for users throughout an entire building, campus, or chain. Consistency of design creates a comforting sense of familiarity which can help decrease feelings of anxiety because users can expect the same quality of service.  

A brand can be identified through any design feature ranging from lighting to artwork to fabrics. For example, if a brand emphasizes nature as part of the company’s identity and story, then any element of nature such as wood or stone can be incorporated into the signage of finishes as well.  

“A brand doesn’t have to only be identified through colors and logos. Taking a creative approach to branding can strengthen the quality, familiarity, and aesthetic of the brand throughout separate locations, rather than simply applying a logo to a wall or furniture.”
Mandy Pittman, MHAworks Health Care Interior Designer

Consistency is Key

The health care industry is constantly evolving, and the design of health care environments are changing alongside it. A great way to create design cohesion is to develop facility standards and guidelines. These standards will allow design firms to bring a cohesive idea to their projects that will represent the clients’ brand as well as provide durable products that will stand up to heavy traffic, maintenance, and infection control.  

These standards may take months or even years to research and develop, but it is crucial for health care organizations to take the proper time to identify their organization’s goals and to extensively research and test products.  

Branding influences patient experiences, but it also plays a role in shaping the experiences of health care professionals and staff. Creating a branded environment that is familiar, comfortable, and considerate of the staff’s needs is critical to ensuring that staff feel prioritized by the organization and can work efficiently across locations.  

Lobby/check in area at UNC Health Eastowne Medical Center.

An example of creating consistent branding can be illustrated by the images above. Both of the above check in areas were designed for UNC Health using their brand guidelines. Although both of these buildings were designed nearly a decade a part, users can tell they are in a UNC Health building by the consistent design elements used such as the blue paint and natural looking finishes in the flooring and furniture.

The Importance of Health Care Branding Design

In many aspects, designers can take the same approach to branding a health care space as they can in any other space. The goal of branding is to visually welcome customers to the space and show them the quality of service they are going to receive. However, gaining the trust of patients, their loved ones, and the community is more important than ever for health care entities. Developing strong branding standards can help health care entities secure the trust of patients and the community from the moment they walk through the front entrance.