Going through a rebrand? Do these 4 things to get employees on board 

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One of the most important components of a successful hospital rebrand is getting buy-in from employees across the organization. 

As rebranding becomes more common and frequent across health systems, it's clear that much more effort goes into the process than merely changing a name. This year alone, more than 20 hospitals and health systems have started rebrand projects or revamped their brand identities. 

From designing and deploying new signage and badges to communicating the changes and identity of the brand across the organization, going through a rebrand without agitating workers can sometimes be a tricky task. Here, three healthcare marketing executives share their tips. 

Involve employees in the rebranding process 

Fostering an inclusive atmosphere among employees and staff when approaching a rebrand is a critical component to creating a longstanding, effective new brand. In 2018, UCare, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit health plan, conducted extensive research with employees and stakeholders when it started the rebranding process for a new logo and tagline, the company told Becker's Hospital Review

While employees' voices and engagement are essential to a successful change, they also can be an asset to creating brand stickiness outside of the marketing department, Kimber Severson, chief marketing officer at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., told Becker's. 

"An engaged employee who feels valued and listened to can become your biggest brand ambassador inside and outside the walls of your office," she said. 

Ensure the rebrand is true to the company’s mission 

When approaching its brand program, Providence leads with the notion that "brands are built from the inside out and the outside in," meaning it is critical to engage the Renton, Wash.-based system's entire family of organizations, said Jigar Shah, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Providence. 

"We made sure to treat [our rebrand] as a transformative change that involved both listening to and sharing with caregivers how this change would deliver a better brand experience for our patients," he said. "This meant getting our Mission, Change and Communications teams engaged at the very beginning, starting with employee sensing sessions alongside consumer research, and creating a cross-functional, brand governance structure for decision-making." 

Providence stressed the importance of clearly connecting its brand positioning to the health system's mission, vision and values and ensured equal emphasis on deep subject-matter expertise and cultural alignment with values when choosing new agency partners. 

A lack of consistency between the hospital's brand and how it operates as a company could hinder employees' overall support, Ms. Severson said, adding that "if there are disconnects, your employees will know, and they won’t buy into the change — and worst of all could become detractors." 

Use multiple touchpoints to communicate with workers 

Breathing life into the new brand goes beyond informing workers that a change is coming. Ms. Severson recommends trying out multiple initiatives across different employee touchpoints to get workers on board. 

"You can't rely on communicating through the written word alone — employees have to feel and believe it's a new day for the organization," she said. 

While Providence made decisions around the architecture of its new brand, it communicated updates to employees through methods such as leadership road shows and brand training. The health system even launched an online brand hub and ambassador brand program for its caregivers to get as many teams as possible involved across the organization. 

Have fun and be creative 

Before unveiling its rebrand to the public, UCare organized an internal reveal for its employees as a way to spark inclusion and excitement within the organization. The payer organization rolled out a teaser campaign, desktop videos, launch events with its CEO, UCare logo gifts and contests and casted employees in TV ads. 

UCare dedicated one year to operationalizing the rebrand in marketing and member materials, building signs and replacing employee badges and other digital assets to minimize the stress the changes could invoke on its workforce, a company spokesperson told Becker's. By holding UCare brand workshops and making new resources available on its intranet, the organization drove up employee engagement and achieved buy-in. 

"The best way to bring employees on board with a new brand is to communicate about it frequently, have leaders champion it, keep it fresh and fun and involve employees in the brand in creative ways," UCare said. "Because, at least in our case, our employees are our brand." 

 

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