A CEO’s take on healthcare rebranding

It’s not often that a health system CEO shares his perspectives about rebranding.

So I’m glad that Thomas Kleinhanzi, President and CEO, Frederick Regional Health System wrote this wonderful article that appeared on Becker’s Hospital Review website – Rebranding as More Than Marketing: Frederick Regional’s Journey to Excellence.

He writes about his recent rebranding of his health system. And it’s a wonderful testament to the value that a true strategic re-branding should deliver both inside and outside of the organization.

Here are some key points from Thomas’s article, woven in with some of my own. Good rules of the road from a CEO about how healthcare system and hospital marketers should approach rebranding.

1. No goals, no reason. It’s unfortunate that too many rebranding initiatives, lacking firm strategic goals and a strategic process behind them, result in not much more than a name change and a logo update. So how to help prevent this? It’s critical at the outset of any branding initiative that a healthcare system or hospital marketer first be able to answer this basic question – “what’s the problem that this rebranding will solve”? If there’s no good answer, there’s no good reason to proceed.

2. Brand and business alignment. According to the CEO, this particular rebranding didn’t signal a new start or an effort to reposition the organization. Rather, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of changes that took place, all of which were driven by a desire to define the organization as a regional leader in the delivery of progressive and innovative healthcare. So in this case, it was a matter of finally, and importantly, aligning brand and business strategy.

3. United by purpose. The focus of the organization’s efforts are now guided by its vision statement – “Superb Quality. Superb Service. All The Time.” But Thomas states that beyond guiding the organization’s activities and priorities, the words have come to reflect the who, what and why of the organization itself. These words are now part of its DNA. When this kind of clarity exists internally, it paves the way for cross-functional teams to align around, and deliver on, common goals.

4. Magnet for physician talent. With each step forward in the delivery of its vision (internally and for its communities), FMH attracted interest from more doctors and medical personnel interested in working there. The health system also began to draw national attention – accreditations, CMS “top performer” recognition, etc. Success builds on success.

5. Buy-in. A solid foundation was laid from the start, with the goal of both hospital team and community believing and buying into “Superb Quality. Superb Service. All the Time.” It was always meant to be more than just a slogan, but a way of life. According to the CEO, the “secret is to garner support, buy-in and belief in the cause.” And the benefits of that realization are evident every single day across FMH. It’s a case of actions speaking louder than words, across an entire organization.

6. A journey, not a race. This CEO urges any organization to remember that “rebranding can’t be a quick fix”, and that it “should never be reduced to simply slapping a new name or a new logo on the organization and then moving on. Rather, it should capture the essence of all that the organization is and aims to be in the future. It should represent what the organization means to the board of directors, its leadership team, employees and the people it ultimately serves. Branding is the culmination of a multidisciplinary process that honors the organization’s rich history and background, and captures the excitement of possibilities.”

Back To Vision. In the end, Thomas states that “it’s all about vision.” I’d agree, as vision is one of an organization’s most sustainable competitive advantages.”

On behalf of all healthcare system and hospital marketers, thanks for sharing your comments Thomas.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand consulting and marketing agency specializing in creating momentum for customers, brands and businesses across the related categories of health, wellness and beauty.

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