Is It Time to Rebrand Your Hospital or Health System?
A nationwide trend, in 2021 and now 2022, indicates it may be time.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, hundreds of hospitals and health systems chose to rebrand themselves in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, rebranding has continued to be a prominent trend in the healthcare industry. So the question becomes, “Is it time for your executive team to assess the value of a hospital or system-wide rebranding initiative?”
Key decision-makers I’ve interviewed over the past 30 years have identified two important factors to consider when evaluating the necessity for a brand change: image and reputation. At first take, these two words may seem synonymous, but they are not one in the same. Image is more of a result of a coordinated effort by branding, advertising, and PR. While reputation is regarded as a product of a consistent public relations.
Think of it this way:
- Image – short-term public perception
- Reputation – long-term prevailing opinion
Other than the quality of care your organization provides, what could be more important? It is essential your organization’s brand image reflects the quality of care you provide. When these two aspects align, your reputation should follow suit.
“It is essential your organization’s brand image reflects the quality of care you provide. When these two aspects align, your reputation should follow suit.”
Organizations in the healthcare industry have various reasons for initiating a rebranding strategy.
Some of these motives include:
- Events that have directly or indirectly damaged their brand image
- Ever-increasing mergers and acquisitions in the sector
- Centralizing widespread multi-location systems – putting all the locations with different names, image and likeness under one standard of care umbrella
- Outgrowing their brand – identifying the need to build a stronger brand image
Regardless of the reason(s), rest assured that a rebranding campaign, if done right, is a major undertaking.
The best approach to determine if your hospital or health system is due for a new brand requires insight from both inside and outside of your organization.
Simply put, what do you want your organization to be? More importantly, what do your patients need you to be? A strong new brand can, without question, improve patient loyalty, promote growth and differentiate you from your competition.
It’s important to note, the cost of rebranding initiatives can vary greatly, from one extreme to another. Personally, I know of large regional hospital systems that have allocated over a million dollars towards a comprehensive rebranding marketing initiative. On the other hand, I know of small community hospitals that have spent smaller dollar amounts on their rebranding initiatives. This included spending roughly one hundred dollars for the redesign of their logo from an online freelancer.
“A strong new brand can, without question, improve patient loyalty, promote growth and differentiate you from your competition.”
Because that name… stands for something.
Your motive behind rebranding aside, I encourage the leaders of your hospital or health systems to not go into this feat alone. Instead, maximize the effectiveness of your rebranding initiatives by welcoming the provision of external expertise. After all, it’s your name. As a former professional athlete, my mother was my personal branding expert. She would encourage me to give my all on the field, play the game with class, integrity and always keep my shirt tucked in. One day I asked her why that was so important to both her and my father. She said, “because that name on the back of your jersey stands for something.”
Jeffrey M. Barnes is Chairman of Barnes Health, a nationally recognized strategic hospital and health system marketing and public relations firm with locations in Nashville and West Virginia. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Barnes Health has represented nearly 120 healthcare providers and has been recognized with over 600 national awards for creative and production of strategic healthcare marketing campaigns.