Top Health Start-Up Brands to Watch: 2024 Edition
Your brand distills your company’s purpose and story into its visible form. The public interacts with your brand before it ever learns more about your offering, with the harsh reality that some may never go past a surface understanding of your brand—unless you give them a compelling reason to learn more.
Don’t let the long-established titans looming over the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry scare you away from investing in your start-up’s brand.
While it may seem daunting to compete alongside their years of investment toward becoming a household name, they actually power a competitive landscape in an industry whose products and services impact everyone’s daily life – and elicit strong public opinions, the hallmark of an engaged audience. Your startup has an opportunity to leverage this primed audience, and so the case for investing in your branding becomes more compelling.
Consider the advantages of a well-branded healthcare startup, and how you can leverage your positioning to overcome many of the challenges of being early on in your journey.
- Engage customers: Start-ups launch to face industry challenges head-on with a clear mission and an agile workflow, which means you have a compelling story to tell. Your audience is already warmed-up by frustration; you just need to make sure your story and solution reach your audience in a way that quickly resonates with their needs. Make sure you tell your story using their language.
- Establish trust & credibility: Being at the start of their company’s life cycle, your healthcare startup may lack the track record and reputation of their larger competitors. But with a well-designed brand identity, your business can have a chance to be heard as it tells its story to potential customers. Cohesive branding can make you more credible and instantly create rapport, helping to communicate your value proposition organically in a way that appeals to consumers.
- Build satisfaction & loyalty: With the right look and feel, you can meet the needs and preferences of your target audience—and keep them coming back for more. With patient experience receiving more attention over the last decade, your brand can spotlight how you connect to your audience better than the competition. Your brand can draw attention to how you offer unprecedented attention and empathy to your audience’s particular health concerns.
- Be memorable: The healthcare industry hosts heavy competition, with established players and rising startups alike vying for attention. A distinct and compelling brand can help your startup stand out from the competition. There is an art to striking a balance between being memorable enough so that people think of and recall your brand, while also fitting in seamlessly enough to make sense within people’s days.
- Attract investors: Business partners and investors alike look for more than just a good idea or product; they want to invest in or collaborate with startups that have a clear vision and mission. A well-defined brand can demonstrate a startup’s commitment to its purpose, and make it more appealing to potential investors and partners.
Kindbody has revolutionized the world of fertility treatment, helping to normalize conversations around the subject – as well as create the expectation that employers should help support universal access to fertility care & IVF as part of the benefits they offer. Their “female but not feminine” aesthetic, vibrant color scheme, and inclusive photography continue to resonate with their audience and set them apart as a leader in the industry, welcoming people of all genders looking to start a family. Taking the time to not only see all members of their audience, but recognize their needs and serve them – this is the exact message that resonates with their audience, meeting a long-neglected and underserved need.
Five years after its launch, Kindbody continues to maintain its relevance and impact – all stemming from its unwavering dedication to empowering women through its unique lifestyle approach.
Initially offering health insurance for freelancers in New York, Oscar has grown to include members across the country. What sets Oscar apart is its refreshing approach to branding, which stands out from the typically cold, institutional look and feel of other health insurance providers. The bright colors, inviting typography, and rich illustrations create an inviting and user-friendly experience that suggests a human touch of helpfulness instead of the somber lull and inhuman drag of bureaucracy and legal contracts.
Oscar designed their aesthetic to align with the millennial and Gen-Z populations comprising the bulk of their target audience, and make it instantly clear that this was designed specifically for them. We believe that Oscar has improved the world of insurance and has made it more accessible to everyone, and their fresh look visually reinforces this.
Tia is revolutionizing women’s healthcare with their innovative approach, “whole woman, whole life,” embracing inclusive care to the very fullest. Their initial branding was refreshingly bold and unapologetic, setting them apart from other women’s health brands. While they have updated their visual brand to reflect better their in-person clinics, their unwavering dedication to their mission remains steadfast. From their color palettes through their distinct imagery, Tia is able to carry this aesthetic over into their clinics as well for a cohesive patient experience.
And, of course, we have to note the front-and-center use of images directly addressing cultural taboos and stigmas in a way that visually references – and reinforces – Tia’s values. Unafraid to “go there” when they present themselves, Tia is a business that demonstrates they do not compromise their values, and this immediately conjures trust from their audience.
Tia’s commitment to empowering women with comprehensive care is infectious and inspiring – they are truly leading the charge for a brighter, healthier future for all women.
While One Medical is a medical practice that requires membership, its mission is to make healthcare more accessible and pleasant for everyone; it offers a new experience of healthcare that directly responds to the issues and complaints that have increasingly plagued the industry. Similar to other brands on our list, they have transformed the conventional experience of visiting a doctor’s office and created a more patient-oriented and contemporary experience.
One Medical’s branding has a luxurious and personal feel, imparting a thoughtful yet simple experience; to keep the pared-down look warm, they use a serif font, subtle colors, and custom cartoons that evoke neighborhoods without the impersonality of a stock photo. They use a simple color scheme, a well-designed logo, and bold typography. They also include intimate photos and hand-drawn illustrations to add a personal touch. Feeling more like a chic personal assistant than a doctor’s office, One Medical captivates its audience and demonstrates a “different experience” right from the initial brand touch.
Hims & hers
Before Hims, you didn’t advertise erectile dysfunction medication with a visual of a giant cactus. After Hims… well, you get the idea. Hims debuted in 2017 with a direct tone of voice, simple language, and “light” design to put men at ease around uncomfortable subjects like sexual wellness and hair loss. They chose muted tones and minimalistic universal packaging that anyone would feel comfortable and even proud to place on a bathroom shelf — regardless of their position on the gender spectrum or personal aesthetic preferences. Hims redefined the discussion around sexual wellness, soon taking on other taboos and creating a safe space where concerns were validated — and addressed.
A core part of Hims & hers branding rightfully centers on their product. The visual focus on different conditions makes it easier for their audience to identify with their needs and feel validated while also creating a visual space in which a material object can bring resolution.
Hims’ look and business model has since been often imitated, to varying degrees of success.
Many healthcare startups begin with a vulnerable audience facing an unmet need. For Ro, the problem is more systemic: how can we enable patients to realize the power and agency that they have over their health, in a medical system that feels weighed down by cost and bureaucracy? The clean imagery, simple interface, and focus on concise, action-oriented copy convey a refreshing clarity, directly responding to their needs. Simple video on each of their pages aligns well with social media efforts and the ways their target audience is most comfortable accessing information.
Great branding has to be distinctive, but it’s just as important that it works for your target audience to engage with and explore.
Since it was founded in 1996, Parsley Health has helped the concept of “holistic medicine” enter the everyday American vernacular, changing the conversation around daily health and wellness. Recognizing the heavy change management that can be involved with such an undertaking, Parsley Health has designed a brand that uses earthy colors to evoke a natural feel that shifts away from sterile clinical settings into something more welcoming; these colors are used alongside images of happy people from all backgrounds to capture their inclusive nature and allow the public to see themselves.
The strong use of clear calls to action is noteworthy for balancing empowerment with guidance.
Historically, the dentist gets a bad rap, associated with a lot of fear, shame, and skepticism over whether procedures are even necessary. Enter Tend, seeking to reimagine dental healthcare into something easy to follow. Through calming colors, simple typography, and an easy user experience engaging with their services, Tend’s branding visually reinforces the mission behind their services. Their copywriting addresses the issues of shame and skepticism people experience with dental conditions directly with simple, concise messaging, while they place a strong focus on visual proof through reviews and screenshots.
When it comes to branding for healthcare startups, each business needs to find its own distinct voice that matches its industry and niche. The specific way it does this needs to fit the audience, but common value themes like transparency, braveness, and sensitivity appear in each case. As you build out your mission and narrative, consider how each of these values fits into your brand. Using our experience, we can help you establish your authenticity and create a disruptive brand.