Are rebrands smart investments? Healthcare leaders weigh in

Becker's asked healthcare leaders whether they think rebrands are smart investments.

Here are their responses, presented alphabetically. 

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Kendra Calhoun
Senior vice president of marketing for Avera Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

The decision to rebrand should never be taken lightly and should involve both stakeholder input and extensive market research. It's important when looking at stakeholders for rebranding to not forget to look internally, as your employees are often your strongest brand advocates.

Brooke Hynes
Vice president of marketing and communications at Tufts Medical Center (Boston)

Business strategy must drive brand strategy. A lot of times, organizations want brand strategy to drive business. They think, 'If we can come up with a really great name or a really great tag line, or a really great slogan, then that will create something in the market for us to be.' And it can't be that way. If you're thinking about a rebrand or tweaking your brand, then you've got to start with the business strategy. …That means different people are going to come up with different solutions, so groups that want to keep separate brands, if they're really tying that to a business strategy that is driving that decision, then great. If somebody is doing that because it's easier politically or less of a fight between boards, then that's not the right reason. … But again, it's all about where you start, and you've got to start with the business strategy. And that also will help you think of your costs.

The other piece is what consumers think of you in their mind. So as you think about what you're 'rebranding,' what is the consumer thinking about that? Are you taking something the consumer has found extremely valuable and changing it to something else? Even if your business strategy says you need to rebrand, how do you make sure you're moving the consumer along in that decision, and not just changing the logo, fixing the signs? You can get inundated by the logistics of a rebrand, but how do you get the consumer as you're changing your logo and name, how do you get them to move with where you want the brand to go in the value you provide to them?

In a rebrand, I think a huge piece of it is looking at the culture and making sure your No. 1 brand ambassadors and the people that understand the rebrand are your employees first. It's beginning at your internal source, the heart of the organization, and making sure they understand.

Les Lifter
Chief marketing officer for Stanford Children's Health (Palo Alto, Calif.)

It really depends on the context of the situation, but under certain circumstances, rebranding can be a very powerful way to breakthrough in the market.

A new brand leverages strengths that do not and can not easily be matched by existing/old brand. It can help shed "baggage" that a brand carries, including being viewed as dated or disconnected from desired product/service segment and/or desired audience.

But among the many variables at play, the term "investment" is key. The organization must be willing to commit the resources and funds needed to not only make aesthetic changes like a logo, but ensure that a new brand is owned in the corporate culture. Additional focus is also required on both the acquisition and retention fronts to ensure that your existing customers who have already bought-in to your current brand are not alienated.

Echelle Rutschman
Lead communications and public relations executive at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, Tenn.)

Rebrands can work if they start inside the organization with the patient experience and employee delivery of that experience. A successful rebranding initiative then simply expresses externally the changes and new reality of the internal. Smart rebrands align the organization's reality with its brand representation. They ensure the brand — the customer experience, the graphic representation, the messages used — conveys that reality. Smart rebrands are based on solid and extensive research with the organization's stakeholders, including employees.

Employees are the key to a successful rebranding initiative because they can deliver on the brand promise and champion the rebranding. Rebrands do not work if they are simply a name change or an effort to gloss over reputational or operational problems.


More articles on healthcare leadership: 

Colorado governor creates office to reduce healthcare costs
Texas system laying off 720 employees
Temple University Health loses top execs amid restructuring

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