As a healthcare company you may have an innovative offering, a competitive advantage, and a unique selling proposition. What’s more, your healthcare marketing must comply with government regulations. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a lackluster healthcare brand. However, that’s often the case. Healthcare marketing and branding not only looks “all the same” but it doesn’t differentiate itself in the marketplace.

Here are five tried and trite visual healthcare marketing clichés to avoid.

Healthcare Marketing Cliché 1: The Stethoscope

Number 1 on the list of healthcare marketing and branding clichés is the ever-present stethoscope. The standalone stethoscope curled on a table. The draped around the shoulder of a healthcare professional stethoscope. Believe it or not, not all healthcare professionals carry a stethoscope at all times.

Healthcare Marketing Cliché 2: The Deep Blue Sea

Color has meaning. According to Canva, blue signifies reliability, trustworthiness, authority and tranquility. These are good qualities for healthcare, which is why so many healthcare marketers and brand experts choose blue for clients, products, and their company logos. But if you want to stand out in a sea of blue competitors, you may want to consider a different color—or at least a distinctive shade of blue.
Take a look at your competitors. Print out their logos or website home pages and lay them side-by-side. Does your brand standout? Or blend in blue?

Healthcare Marketing Cliché 3: Middle-Aged Male Doctor

The stereotyped doctor in brand imagery is a middle-aged, white man with graying hair. Yet women comprise 37% of physicians. What’s more, in 2021 nearly 47% of medical school residents and fellows were women.

Don’t assume all physician images need to be men. The demographics are shifting.

Healthcare Cliché 4: Healthy, Happy, Hospitalized Patients

How do you look when you’re sick? I know I have bed head, no makeup, outdated glasses. It’s not pretty.
While you don’t want your patients to look miserable in your care, the chance of them lying in a hospital bed, grinning broadly with full makeup and perfectly coiffed hair are unlikely. A little realism goes a long way toward believability and trust.

Healthcare Marketing Cliché 5: Stock Imagery

Beware the stock imagery. What are your healthcare professionals wearing? Do the nurses’ pressed white uniforms and starched caps look like they stepped out of a 1964 episode of General Hospital? If they’re wearing scrubs, does the style match those found in your country?
When it comes to patients, do your research. Does your patient demographic skew younger or older? Slim or stocky? Choose imagery that’s believable.

According to 2019 US census figures, about 76% of people in the United States are white, more than 19% are Hispanic or Latino,  more than 13%are  Black or African American, and nearly 6% are Asian. Does your imagery reflect this diversity?

Do your homework. Match the demographic to your area or the disease state. If possible, run the imagery by members of your target audience.


It’s easy to want to follow the crowd. But in a crowded marketplace, it’s important to differentiate yourself. Take calculated risks and avoid being a cliché.


Nancy Burgess

Nancy Burgess is the owner of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, a marketing consulting firm and online agency. In that role, she integrates her corporate success as a digital marketer along with her marketing agency experience in marketing communications and branding to help businesses prosper. Nancy's specialties are search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a master's degree, and also multiple marketing certificates from DePaul University's graduate school. She is a frequent presenter on SEO strategies and has worked in digital marketing since the late 1990s. As someone who can strategize AND execute, Nancy offers digital and traditional marketing services to SMBs. Agency value without agency fees. Along with SEO and content strategies, Nancy's agency offers website design, marketing automation, integrated marketing strategies, and branding to her clients.