Understanding the entirety of a healthcare rebrand

When searching for a leader with experience in hospital and health system rebranding, Ryan Perkins immediately stood out given his 16-plus-year tenure in healthcare marketing and communications. Being a part of planning four healthcare rebrands, he has a deep understanding of what it takes to bring a rebrand to life from inside an organization. We interviewed Ryan as part of our new series, Tell Us About Your Rebrand, which was a valuable learning experience about the go or no-go decisions he was able to make by understanding the detailed nature of brand implementation.

Helping leadership see the scope and impact of brand change

The first project discussed was the rebrand of a faith-based hospital system with 13 community hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois. To keep the naming convention consistent, each location was branded with the system name, then the original hospital name and city. While the logo retained the Tau cross to represent the Catholic health system, it was modernized to help each legacy hospital become more current.

The entire process took four years from the planning phase, through budget approval to vendor execution. “It can be challenging to help people understand the scope of what rebrand implementation really entails,” commented Ryan. “When you sit down with an inventory spreadsheet of everything that needs to be changed and what it will cost, people are blown away. Signage alone is staggering.”

Ryan talked about how important it was to have an executive team who truly understood the impact of what the brand meant to the organization and how the investment was worthwhile. Luckily, he had that support at the local and system levels, but in other cases it was a considerable roadblock. He joked, “I could stop working if I could figure out how to tangibly put a true dollar figure to the benefits of a rebrand. For every $X you spend this is what you will recoup and how quickly you will recoup it.”

Ryan continued, “You can’t prove that rebrands directly drive bottom line results. This is where a lot of leaders start backing off because they don’t understand the intangible benefits to their business.”

Defining a roll-out strategy and executing against a timeline

Another comprehensive rebrand that Ryan was intimately involved in was a seven-hospital system in Wisconsin. Changing the name, logo, architecture, and visual identity in seven cities was a big undertaking. “To generate trust within each community, it was our goal to convert each city within one month’s time. This meant one month from when they started to remove the old branding and signage to when the new brand installations were complete for all hospitals and clinics in that region,” said Ryan. To make this happen it required extensive planning and vendor management.

As apart of this system-wide rebrand, Ryan also navigated the reality of implementing an 11-color logo. “When compared to the competition, the colors had incredible purpose and stopping power for the brand, which is why we weren’t willing to use a one-color logo. This meant we incurred more cost to maintain brand integrity and continue to stand out.” Ryan said the investment was worthwhile to leadership and visual identity was factored into their implementation plan. “We didn’t replace every single door plate with the room number in this case, there were other more important things to spend money on like colorful interior storyboards that showcased patient successes, things that embodied the brand.”

In the case of this system, the marketing team came together to inventory everything in the health system by service line to determine their launch and roll-out strategy. As the seven cities rolled out over the course of a year, they celebrated with grand openings to help each community embrace the change. This was a huge success given the number of touchpoints that were converted into the new brand.

Doing it right, or not doing it at all

Ryan also talked about two instances of when the brand implementation planning process led the team to decide not to rebrand. The first was an instance of two hospitals within the same large system where the feeder hospital lacked the brand equity of the tertiary hospital, according to market research. Given the investment required to implement the rebrand to a single name for the two hospitals, plus some other market factors, leadership agreed not to continue as planned.

In the second instance, a large medical center in a competitive market anticipated that implementing the new brand would cost more than $1 million dollars. After an extensive audit and bidding process, Ryan and team determined that transformation would have actually cost six times that over a five-year period. Given the project was slated to take place mid-pandemic, the organization was able to make an educated decision not to invest in the rebrand at that time. “It’s important to know the extent of the project before committing to it. We had to do our homework to figure that out. In this case, we were able to determine that we were either going to do it right, or not do it at all.”

What it takes to succeed 

When we asked Ryan what has been key to rebrand implementation success, he closed with a few ideas in summary:

  • Using market research to drive a shared vision for change
  • Executive leadership who understands and trusts the importance of rebranding
  • A realistic budget to bring the rebrand to life
  • Assembling the right team is paramount to success, from internal teams to creative partners, to sign manufacturers and installers

Tell us about your rebrand

We were excited to speak with Ryan and learn from his experience as a part of our Tell Us About Your Rebrand series. If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, no matter what industry, we’d love to hear about it. Reach out at hello@tentengroup.com to share your thoughts and stories.

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