A to Z Branding Style Guide for Your Healthcare Startup

Feature Image Source: Freepik

Thinking of setting up a healthcare startup? I don’t doubt your decision.

Recently people around the world have become health conscious. “Consumer out-of-pocket spending on non-clinical health, wellness, and self-disease management technologies and services to grow by 60-70% from 2014,” says Reenita Das of Forbes. This percentage will only increase in 2016, as people are increasingly depending on e-health solutions.

Thus, entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals are seeing the healthcare industry as a fruitful business opportunity and a successful career path.

However due to the advancement in communication technology, meeting the demands revolving around healthcare products and services has become challenging. There’s increased competition, and consumer expectations have risen. The overall benchmark of innovative creativity, quality of branding and visual marketing design has improved.

If you haven’t heard of “frugal innovation – doing more with less”, then you must know it. Marta Karlov of ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, USA says that constraints of resources spur innovation. This is leading many healthcare startups in China, India and elsewhere to shift from conventional ways of doing business and going digital; providing e-health to patients and enhancing their experience.

But don’t panic seeing this transformation.

Companies like StartUp Health, provide assistance to entrepreneurs who want to open up independent pharmacies, dental clinics, and health insurance offices etc.

So stop thinking and get started.

The First Step – Busted!

One of the most intimidating things when starting off is how to develop a strong and sustaining brand identity. It isn’t simply about your corporate logo, it’s “a world of associations that have accrued over time”, says Michael Bierut of Pentagram.

Before structuring your corporate identity you must know that all your branding nitty-gritties should resonate an idea. Mary Stribley of Canva Design School says, that “A brand is like a machine.” It is made up of different parts that need to work cohesively to attain a mission.

But how to accomplish this? Stay tuned as I define the process of developing a brand identity for your healthcare startup. Learn everything about creating a branding style guide. This will help graphic and web designers, brand managers, marketers, and of course entrepreneurs themselves.


Design a logo

Originally creative, captivating, and memorable logos are not a piece of cake! As per Entrepreneur, “your logo is the most important design element because it is the basis for all your other materials: stationery, packaging, promotional materials and signage.” See below how to make your logo.

Symbols and Icons

Icons and symbols are used a lot in healthcare logos to describe the nature of the business, or just to fit in the healthcare industry crowd. These shapes are useful to convey messages that will otherwise take several words to explain. What are the common and modern versions of healthcare symbols? [+]


The existing healthcare symbols are a great source of inspiration. You can incorporate the traditional symbols, such as the Caduceus, crest and cross in their logos with a contemporary twist.

conventional-minLogo Source: AngelList


Healthcare startups are using original icons in their logos from flora and fauna to symbolic geometric shapes. Since minimalism is trending, several startups are going for a simpler, cleaner and flatter look like PillPack.

unconventional-minLogo Source: AngelList

See more examples in the infographic below.

The Technical Stuff

If you have seen branding style guides of large pharmaceuticals like that of Pfizer, then you may have seen the amount of effort that’s spent on the precision of a logo’s design. Each company has its own preferences, yet somethings remain the same. Find out about logo design technicalities.[+]


The scale of the logo depends on the purpose of it. Generally, you must define the minimum size of your logo and the maximum depends on what the logo will appear on.

Clear Space

Where ever you may place your logo, make sure there’s breathing space around it. This is needed to pop out the logo design from the rest of the elements, and to dedicate an exclusive portion of the canvas.



Specifically define the place of your logo on your branding stationery. On business cards, it’s placed to either side on the top. On letterheads, it’s placed on the side where the opening line starts.

Healthcare Logo Guidelines

Every industry and the company within it follows certain regulations that can’t be ignored. As far as a healthcare logo is concerned, it’s your official identity and a serious thing. Find out the rules of using a logo design. [+]

• Designers and marketers can only use the approved logo design and nothing else
• It’s not allowed to use any other color scheme than the one that’s finalized
• Never alter the proportions, placement, and clear space of the logo design
• Only attach the agreed design elements with the logo (tagline and symbols)
• Do not alter the orientation of the logo design on any brand’s stationery

Say it with Words

When a shape, icon or symbol isn’t enough to describe your healthcare startup, you need the help of words. Not all company logos are accompanied with a tagline but ones that do, have yet another test left to pass. These days however the trend is fading. But still, you must know about taglines.[+]

Tips and Tricks

There are several ways in which your healthcare startup tagline can be presented. Two similar ideas can be divided by a full stop or a comma. If you want your tagline to appear with your logo, use 2 to 4 words.


Taglines accompany your logo, most of the times unless the space is very limited. By observing different healthcare company logo designs, it is seen that a tagline can be placed in 5 ways.

• Besides the logo on the right hand
• Below the design on right side
• Center aligned with the logotype
• Full stretch covering the entire logo design
• No tagline; just the design of the logo

Color Your Brand

The colors of your healthcare startup need to be chosen both creatively and strategically. Make your brand identity look aesthetically pleasing and reflect messages and emotions via colors. Find out all about healthcare colors and how to use them.

Healthcare Colors

The most widely used colors in the healthcare industry fall in the cool and warm categories. Popular choices are shades of blue, red and green. You can also go wild and experimental like the branding of Merck Group. Know the meanings of popular healthcare colors. [+]

Color Significance

When colors stand separate, each hue means something different. So you need to smartly put them together to serve your branding.


Pick a Palette

Don’t randomly select colors based on merely your personal choice. Understand your brand, your business and your customers to formulate a suitable scheme. See tips and tricks of making a color scheme. [+]

Selection Rules

Traditionally healthcare companies pick 2, 3 or 5 colors to complete their brand identity scheme. Less colors limit you, and with more you can play around.

Useful Formulas

Once you’ve finalized the color scheme, you need to extend it. This helps you in advertising when you want to make the most out of your palette. Many healthcare companies do this in three ways:

• Formula 1 – color shade reduction by 20%
• Formula 3 – color shade reduction by 25%
• Formula 2 – color shade reduction by 50%

Define Brand Colors

No this isn’t like the DaVinci code, it’s the codes of colors needed for reference. When the exact pigmentation or percentage of colors is defined, it becomes easy for your designers and marketers to use the exact branding colors. Know more about color codes. [+]

Color Codes

When you’re done with your color scheme, you need to precisely state what color you’ve used. To do this, for each color, you need to mention its hexidecimal code or RGB (for web), CMYK (for print), and sometimes Pantone code as well.

The Brand Stationery

Once you are done laying the foundation of your brand identity with your logo design and color scheme, it’s time to steer your attention towards its stationery. All the material that’s essential for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) communications. Find out what more you must know.

Stationery Types

No matter if you’re a digital healthcare startup or you got a physical office or store, you need some basic branding stationery. You can include many more things that will assist you in marketing and advertising your business. Know the basic types of stationery you need. [+]


As a healthcare startup, you need a business card, letter head and envelope. All these things should have a standard design and include important information about your company.


If you’re a digital company, like Medicast orSharePractice, which offers healthcare products and services to its clients online then you need a website or an iOS app.



As a startup you don’t need to spend money on massive billboards, instead you need small-scale hoardings. Plus use guerilla marketing techniques to make your brand’s story interactive.


Among the many design elements, typography is also critical to the completion of your branding style guide. It takes a huge share of your branding stationery, and tells a lot about your company and business. Learn about healthcare fonts. [+]

Popular Typefaces

Looks like some fonts are exclusively booked by the healthcare industry. Most companies in this sector use the same fonts over and over again. This includes Arial, Futura, and Bodoni. See more in the infographic below.

Selecting Font

As a healthcare startup, you should have two fonts to serve your brand’s stationery. It’s up to you how to mix and match them.



The layout of all the design elements is necessary. In your branding style guide, every little thing should be visually presented for future reference. It’s important to align the content to the design of any working canvas or page. Once a standard is defined, things become easier. What are the most important things in composition? [+]


There are two ways to measure the “working area”. You can define the margins in 2 ways:

• Use a design element as a unit to mark the grid
• Leave space on the edge in inches or millimeters


These are there to help you layout content. As a healthcare startup, you should divide your page in 6 to 10 columns and leave a gutter of maximum 2.0 inches.

Package Your Products

Packaging of healthcare products needs to be done with extra caution because here it’s a matter of life and death, literally. Health Canada has listed guidelines for Canadian pharmaceutical companies to adhere to when packing and labeling drugs for human use.

Essential Things

It’s up to you how you want the design of your products to be, but some things are very obvious. Find out about most common types of healthcare packaging. [+]


Different materials are used for liquids, tablets and healthcare utensils and equipment. Pills are put in blister packs or plastic bottles. Nowadays healthcare products include wearable gadgets or downloadable applications for portable devices.


The design of any healthcare product, for kids and teenagers, label is bright and colorful. For adults it is more sober and usually only the primary brand colors are used.

Image Source: Google Images

Market Your Brand

Marketing is as vital to your healthcare business as branding is. It boosts your corporate recognition. In your branding style guide, it’s critical to describe exactly what kind of visuals and content can used for promotion.

Visual marketing

In The Role of Visual Media in Impactful Brand Storytelling, it’s stated that “65 percent of senior marketing executives surveyed believe that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated.” For your healthcare startup, use visual marketing techniques. [+]


Almost 50% of marketers agree that photography is critical to brand storytelling and marketing strategies. All healthcare companies use photos with machinery, people or nature. You can too.

Image Source: Unsplash/Josh Appel


Graphs and charts were already a great way to present healthcare business statistics. This practice has been improved by making vector illustrations to share data online.

Well, this is it! Sort of. Some brand style guides only include details about logo design, while others write hundreds of pages on it. It depends on you at the end of the day.

Have we missed out on anything? Comment below.

Healthcare Startup Branding Style Guide Infographic

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A visual design blogger passionate about interactive, experiential and captivating techniques designers, marketers and brands use to accentuate messages, tell stories, and spread awareness. I’m a visual addict like Alice, who finds books (or anything) without pictures boring! My writings focus on graphic and web design, branding, and visual marketing. My hobbies are to write poems, draw zentangles, read mysteries, and watch YouTube videos.

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