An inside look at Memorial Health's nearly $4M rebrand

Memorial Health's rebrand took six years of planning and almost $4 million, and Aimee Daily, PhD, the system's chief transformation officer, gave Becker's an inside look at the process.

Springfield, Ill.-based Memorial Health unveiled the rebrand in October, but the planning stretches back to 2015. The health system conducted market research, examined how its brand was perceived at the time and how a rebrand might affect that. 

In 2019, the health system went through the budgeting process and design and got approval from the board of directors. To budget for the $3.85 million transformation, the health system split the costs over several years because they are a capital expense.

Although the rebrand was set to go live in spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed other hospital system priorities to the forefront and rebrand efforts were tabled until January 2021. 

"In January of this year, we began having a dialogue about the opportunity to update our strategic plan coming out of the pandemic," Dr. Daily said. "And one of the things we identified was that the brand integration effort was key to helping drive the new strategic plan going forward. So we made a decision to go ahead and move forward with the rebrand in the fall."

Dr. Daily said rebranding during a pandemic is not ideal, though she added the timing might never be perfect. 

"You [will] always have the next big project or the next initiative or the next thing going on," she said. "You just kind of have to decide, which we did, and we said you know the return here is going to be worth the work and the risk and we just need to push forward with it."

That was the case for Memorial Health. The health system's hospitals were using different colors, signs, letterheads, logos on cars, business cards, uniforms and  ID badges. Individual hospital names didn't have a uniform system for how the health system was affiliated. For example, Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville's name was changed to Jacksonville Memorial Hospital as part of the rebrand.

Memorial Health dropped "system" from its name and all five of its hospitals began sporting a logo that featured four red, inward arches that form a diamondlike pattern. The new logo was chosen by Memorial Health leadership because it was deemed modern as well as digital friendly.

"Not only does our new logo reflect the integrated strength of Memorial Health, but also carries with it a sense of innovation and forward thinking," Dr. Daily said.

For hospitals and health systems considering or undergoing a rebrand, Dr. Daily recommends two things. First, that the hospital knows its "why." 

"Are you doing it because you just want your logo to be more digital friendly? Are you doing it because you're trying to change your reputation? Are you doing it because you're trying to get people to visually connect things? None of those reasons are strong enough," she said.

For Memorial Health, the move was not a brand project but rather an integration endeavor. Dr. Daily said it was about helping patients, vendors, visitors and employees understand that patients will get the same level of care regardless of which hospital they visit.

The second piece of advice Dr. Daily has is to involve everyone the rebrand will affect. For example, Memorial Health had 100 vehicles that needed to become uniform, so it got the director of security involved. And because the health system's legal name was changing, it took collaborating with the different vendors the system uses and its legal team to land on approval.

"While a marketing and communications department is certainly going to lead an effort within an organization, I think it's important to recognize that it's not a communications effort, but it's an organization effort," she said. "And it's going to take all people from all different areas of the organization to bring forward and say, 'This is where our brand exists.'"

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