Healthcare Re-Branding: 8 Missteps To Avoid

Healthcare Re-Branding: 8 Missteps To Avoid

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Healthcare re-brandings are major milestone events where everything is shifting: strategically, creatively, internally and externally.

As experts in health system and hospital rebranding, we’ve worked alongside many leadership and marketing teams on these major initiatives over the past 17 years. Along the way, we’ve seen some mis-steps and missed opportunities. Here are our Trajectory insights about eight of them.

1. Clinging to history. One of the more frequent reasons to rebrand is to maintain the relevance of your health system or hospital. Today, this is in the midst of changing reforms, the drive from volume to value, consolidations and partnerships and a drastically different competitive environment. While it’s beneficial to have a history to look back on and build upon, it’s dangerous to cling to it when so much around you is changing.

2. Relying too heavily on customer perspectives.  There are times when current and prospective customers should weigh in about your intended outcomes. But not all the time. Not if you’re asking your long-standing hospital-based “sick-care customers” their point-of-view about how to express (for instance, in a tagline) your future health-focused vision. Remember that there is a predisposition to choose anything that is more familiar to us. So be careful about letting them steer your ship.

3. Not building a team of brand champions. A rebranding affects the entire organization. As such, there should be a senior cross-functional team of flag-bearers for the initiative outside of the formal leadership hierarchy. Their role should be that of sounding board, facilitator and change leaders. Ideally, they should be able to win CEO approval for their decisions.

4. Neglecting brand architecture. Brand architecture refers to the structure of brands within your health system or hospital. Think of it as a hierarchy, a way of helping employees and customers better understand the relationship among your organization brand, hospitals, facilities, service lines, etc.  As these are the gateway to your brand, it’s important that the architecture, and the names of your offerings, reflect the strategic direction of your rebranding.

5. Not thinking in a series of phases. Done right, a rebranding must pass through deliberate internal phases: launch (where employees here it/feel it), post-launch (where employees learn it/engage in it) and ongoing (where employees live it). A change process is not a one-time, brief display of fireworks, it‘s a long-term process – and you don’t want stakeholders to view the process as merely “surface changes.” This is the one opportunity you have to drive home the changes made, promote buy-in and build participation to your organizational transformation.

6. Internal audiences vs. participants. Our approach to rebranding recognizes employees as important and active participants in change. Not just an audience. Your brand is your business strategy brought to life, and it should inform all aspects of (and people across) your healthcare organization – providing everyone a means to create new and greater shared value.

7. Stopping short of building a brand culture. There’s only one way to ensure that your re-energized brand has the power to unite your stakeholders in creating new and greater value. It requires your brand be center stage and in alignment from the inside out. It requires a brand culture. At Trajectory, we define brand culture as squeezing every bit of meaning, purpose and direction out of your brand to drive the everyday actions of the people who drive your business performance.

8. Not maintaining post-launch momentum. Prior to, and during launch, there’s anticipation,   excitement and expectation. But afterwards, do you tend to return to a back to business as usual mentality?  A rebrand must be looked at as a stepping-stone to creating long-term change within your organization and creating broader impact externally. To achieve this, there needs to be measures, incentives, guidelines and mechanisms for training and feedback – to increase buy-in and to help each individual play their role in delivering on your repositioning and promises. In summary, the rebranding must be operationalized.

Considering a re-brand? Reach out to Rick Zaniboni at 978-994-8009, or via email at

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment as an opportunity to move customers, brands and businesses upward to a new destination.