January 21, 2014

Why a complex healthcare branding implementation needs to be centrally managed

Healthcare branding is on the minds of many health industry executives these days. According to an October 2013 report by analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, the pace of healthcare mergers and acquisitions will increase as healthcare reform gives for-profit hospitals and health systems greater incentive to grow and diversify. Mergers and acquisitions will intensify the need for rapid healthcare branding programs.

During a merger or acquisition, one or both organizations need to go through a massive rebranding effort to ensure the new name and logo appear on each and every sign, vehicle, uniform, name badge, brochure…the list goes on and on.

For healthcare executives and their strategic marketing/branding teams, decisions have to be made about whether healthcare brandings should be unified or whether it is better to keep their legacy brands in the new brand architecture because consumers feel strongly about the brand. We recently worked on a healthcare branding implementation project for MedStar Health, a 4.5 billion dollar company with 30,000 associates, and 200 locations operating in three states. The healthcare system brought together nine different hospitals, and each hospital paired its legacy name with the name of the healthcare system.


Before the healthcare branding process begins, healthcare organizations should consider three key issues unique to their industry:

  • Organizational Structure: The structure may be heavily influenced by medical disciplines, and leaders of each medical unit or department often participate in the decision-making process. If the organizational structure includes a teaching hospital, the decision-making processes may include additional committees and teams with representation from various stakeholders. This makes decisions about healthcare branding and brand implementations more complicated.
  • Brand Architecture: Many healthcare systems have complicated brand architectures for several reasons:
    • To include both the healthcare system and the hospital name
    • To highlight a specialty area, like a prestigious cancer treatment center
    • To highlight a foundation or substantial contributor
    • To highlight a religious affiliation, making consumers aware of the organization’s philosophy
  • Responsibility for Branded Assets: When it comes to rolling out the new brand across the entire organization, understanding who “owns” each touch point (sign, vehicle, etc.) is key to a fast and efficient implementation. While in some industries, the fleet management/transportation department manages all vehicles and aircraft, this in not always the case in a healthcare branding rollout. The complex organizational structures mentioned about above affects how these branded assets are managed, since numerous individuals throughout the organization may be responsible for just a portion of the fleet or other assets.

With these added layers of complexity, it is important to have a detail-oriented project manager take ownership of the healthcare branding implementation process.

To learn more about our role as project manager in the MedStar Healthcare Branding implementation, watch this video featuring Jean Hitchcock, VP of Public Affairs and Marketing for MedStar Health.