As the U.S. healthcare system continues to evolve, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are spending billions of dollars on mergers, acquisitions and upgrades in an effort to ensure their services align with consumer desires and are sustainable under new healthcare models. As organizations change the types of services they are providing, many are considering rebranding.
"This is such a transformational period for healthcare, I'd be surprised if almost all healthcare organizations aren't re-thinking their brands," Dr. Richard Afable, CEO of the newly-combined enterprise St. Joseph Hoag Health, told HealthLeaders Media. "Consumer decisions are more important than ever before. The challenge is that the brand has to realistically reflect the offerings of the product or service. The best brand in the world will fall flat if it doesn't deliver for consumers, physicians, community partners, employers and all the stakeholders healthcare touches."
Just this year, a few companies made the decision to rebrand. For example, in 2015:
- LifePoint Hospitals changed its name to LifePoint Health;
- Wellpoint Health Inc. – which merged with Anthem Inc. in 2004 – decided to switch over to the Anthem brand; and
- Independent healthcare technology company Emdeon decided to rebrand as “Change Healthcare.”
"This is really the perfect time for us to rebrand," Doug W. Bennett Jr., public relations manager at Anthem, told HealthLeaders Media. "In this environment, we think it's important that we present ourselves to the public by the name that they already know and trust, which is Anthem, the name by which the majority of our products are sold.”
Emdeon said in a statement that rebranding as Change Healthcare would better reflect the company’s diverse capabilities and solutions. "The decision to evolve our brand reflects our significant and exciting business transformation over the past three years," said Neil de Crescenzo, CEO and President of Emdeon. "Today we serve virtually all constituencies in the healthcare system. It is critical that our brand reflects the full breadth and depth of our innovation and capabilities."
Top reasons for rebranding
According to HealthLeaders Media, there are three top reasons why healthcare organizations are choosing to rebrand:
- To promote an affiliation;
- To promote expanded services; and
- To emphasize a focus on health.
Pros and Cons
In an article in the Houston Chronicle, Lisa McQuerrey said there are pros and cons to rebranding. “Rebranding can breathe new life into a company, product or service, changing the way it is perceived by consumers,” she said. “It can also create an opportunity for the company to embrace a new message or position in its industry, allowing it to reach new markets and attract a new demographic.”
However, rebranding is not without risks. “Rebranding nullifies the previous brand and in some instances, can result in confusion or lack of brand recognition by consumers,” said McQuerrey. “If this happens, the rebranding effort is simultaneously expensive and detrimental to the original brand, which loses its equity and recognition.” To avoid that pitfall, McQuerrey suggests retaining some elements of the previously-known and recognized brand, such as the color scheme.
The costs of rebranding will depend on the extent of the changes made. According to the Nashville Business Journal, the cost for Emdeon to make the switch to Change Healthcare will be $126 million; $32 million in the third quarter of this year and another $94 million in the fourth quarter.
According to branding and marketing firm DeSantis Breindel, a powerful brand will help hospitals to achieve a greater return on their other investments. And brand development/strategic communications company Seroka says great brands experience a higher ROI on their marketing efforts.