February 20, 2023

Humanizing healthcare with illustration

Using Illustrations to Connect with Diverse Audiences

As healthcare marketers, we all know how challenging it can be to convey complex concepts in a way that resonates with a diverse audience. Whether we’re speaking to patients, healthcare professionals or other stakeholders, it can be difficult to create a message that connects with people of all cultures, ages and backgrounds. 

UNTHSC Campaign Advertising

At Schaefer, we’ve found that illustration can be an effective means of broadening the appeal of a message, while also conveying a clearer understanding of the brand’s mechanism of action (MOA) and differentiating features. When we step away from the clinical aspect and think about emotions, we find that illustrations can help brands connect with the reader on a deeper level:

  1. Illustrations break down complex medical concepts, procedures, or treatments into easy-to-understand visuals. This makes your message more accessible to a wider audience, regardless of their background, education or level of medical knowledge. 
  2. Illustrations also have the ability to tap into emotions by creating a visceral connection with patients, helping to build trust, empathy and approachability. 
  3. Using illustrations to showcase people living with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or mental health conditions can help reduce the fear or stigma surrounding them. This type of advertising not only educates, but also helps patients overcome their reluctance to seek help when they need it.
Omni Surgical - Go for Three

In addition to reaching people on a more human level, the Schaefer team has found a number of occasions when illustrations solved particular strategic or tactical goals. 

For example, when we needed to evolve positioning for an ophthalmic surgical device, we settled on an approach that used an illustrated metaphor. This technique allowed ophthalmologists to see themselves in the role of making the game-winning shot in the competition for efficacy. This helped the client rapidly propel from startup to the #2 position in their market. 

myForte App

In another case, a popular acne treatment wanted to optimize outcomes by using an app to improve adherence. We employed gender and skin-tone neutral illustrations to drive engagement. As a result, the app saw more than 90,000 downloads and a 40% return use rate. By effectively appealing to a broad and diverse audience, illustration helped humanize the brand and boost adherence. 

Illustration can also provide a more affordable — and practical — alternative to traditional photo shoots. This was true in a case involving an academic institution that wanted to embrace diversity in their marketing. Illustration allowed us to appeal to a wide range of cultures, ages, and backgrounds. It also provided the flexibility and agility to change things quickly and react to our client needs.

Clarifying a message. Breaking down demographic barriers. Removing the stigma from an illness. Building trust and empathy. In the end, it’s all about humanizing healthcare. 

When you communicate on a more human level, your message resonates more effectively. At Schaefer, we’ve found that illustration is a great way to forge a deeper bond with patients, professionals and the general public, and connect with them in more meaningful ways.