Human Connection is the Key To Marketing

Mark Viden discusses how the Hello Humankindness is bringing dignity back to healthcare and marketing

Jul 13, 2018 · 5 min read

“Advertising is an art, but there is a science behind it, too.” -Mark Viden

There is no doubt that marketing and advertising are key factors in the success of any business, large or small. Mark Viden knows that better than most. But as the VP of brand and marketing at Dignity Health, Viden has made forming human connections just as central to the mission of the brand as turning a profit.

Viden spearheaded Hello Humankindness, a branded channel with mixed media that brings human connection back into the business of healthcare and has helped Dignity Health find success.

On Marketing Trends, Viden was happy to share some of the things he’s learned along the way.

Viden’s journey as a marketer began as a young man, when he read the work of David Ogilvy, commonly referred to as the father of advertising and the founder of Ogilvy & Mather, one of the most famous advertising firms in the world.

“His integrity comes through in all of his work,” Viden says of what drew him to Ogilvy’s work. “And then, most importantly, it’s that advertising is an art, but there’s a science behind it, too. It’s data, analytics that wasn’t present in his day but is so important today. Knowing who your audiences are, knowing how effective your messages are, these are the things we think about a lot and it makes me think back to David and his idea to measure everything you do.”

Key Takeaway #1: Measure everything that you do.

At his first job, Viden got a good look at campaigns that worked and ones that didn’t, including the Infiniti car campaign that focused on the materials used in the car rather than the car itself. Watching how that campaign was built, and how innovative and well-done it was, yet still having it be unsuccessful in the long run, taught Viden a great deal. It led him to the lesson he gives to every young person who wants to get into the industry.

“You have to keep knocking at the door,” Viden says. “You have to be resilient. You have to handle rejection and you have to find the right person who sees something in you and lets you in.”

Key Takeaway #2: Learn to handle rejection. Be resilient and keep trying.

“Patience, persistence, respect and listen are really key attributes that anyone coming into any kind of enterprise should adopt. And I said the word ‘listen.’ Listen is what people are looking for in healthcare quite a bit.”

After researching the healthcare industry, Viden and his team found that patients reported not feeling listened to, which reinforced their belief that to listen to people, to look them in the eye and form a connection, is the most important thing. Out of this research, Hello Humankindness was born as the overall brand campaign for Dignity Health. The idea was to make dignity relevant in the marketplace.

“What’s so unusual about Hello Humankindness is that it is an invitation into something that I think is much larger than healthcare itself,” Viden says. “We wanted this concept that human connection is the most important thing and that we all hold the power to heal. We wanted this brand purpose to stand for something in a world where you may have 1,000 friends on Facebook, but you may know or connect with so few in real life. We wanted this to be a movement.”

Key Takeaway #3: What will people always want? Focus on improving things that you know are not going to change.

People want kindness and someone to listen to them, so Hello Humankindness created a better way to make that a reality. The company wanted to honor their founders from years gone by, religious sisters who believed that everyone should have access to healthcare, and bring the legacy of healing to customers in a meaningful, branded way that stood out.

Dignity Health looked to what the consumer needed and tried to make sure their healthcare journey was simple and as pain-free as possible. The company’s goal is to improve people’s lives every day — radically different than so many others’ mission. And they were making it happen through marketing.

“This gets back to what is a brand? Why is a brand relevant? And how can a brand add value to your organization?” Viden says. “A brand is the sum total of the experiences, good and bad, that someone has with your organization, product or service. Advancing a brand has to be true to that experience. What marketers need to do is take the essence of what’s true about the organization and make it real…. What do your people feel? How do they behave? How do they engage and how do people who engage with those folks feel at the end of the day?”

Key Takeaway #4: Take the essence of what’s true about your organization and make it real in every customer experience.

Thanks to the Hello Human Kindness campaign, Dignity Health has brought healthcare and human connection to millions of people across the United States. The company works in 21 states and with more than 60,000 caregivers who are committed to providing compassionate care to every patient.

“What’s so satisfying about working at a healthcare company is that you’re hopefully changing lives for the better,” Viden says. “As a marketer, I think that’s a dream come true.”

As his career continues, Viden and his work with Hello Humankindenss will no doubt serve as an example for young marketers who are coming up in the business. For them, Viden has simple advice.

“The best mentors are people that you interact with because hopefully, ideally, you’ll observe their actions and you’ll see how they do things,” he says. “I think watching and observing effective people, there’s no substitute for that.”

Key Takeaway #5: You are who you spend time with. Learn from them.

Hear Viden’s full interview on Marketing Trends, and be sure to check out the Hello Humankindness campaign.

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Stories & podcasts that make smart people smarter: The Mission Daily: The Story podcast:

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.


Written by


Stories & podcasts that make smart people smarter: The Mission Daily: The Story podcast:

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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