Creating a name for a new business or re-branding an existing one is a challenging task. The new name should convey the company’s business as clearly and succinctly as possible, using language that potential customers easily understand. It also must reflect the company’s brand in a way that makes it stand out from competitors, and yet be broad enough to allow for future expansion.
For a healthcare brand, particularly a nonprofit, selecting a new name can be even trickier. Partners and customers have developed a strong attachment to the existing brand name, through perhaps decades of satisfactory encounters. However, healthcare organizations often grow by expanding their service lines. What if the existing name is overly specific, or constrains to one particular service or location?
Such was the recent challenge facing our leadership at Hospice of the Bluegrass, which had operated under the brand name anchored in hospice for over 30 years.
“Our organization was founded as Community Hospice of Lexington back in 1978,” said Liz Fowler, CEO. “As we expanded our service regions to other parts of the state, we changed our name to Hospice of the Bluegrass in 1986,” Fowler added. “And that name has served us well, until now.”
Our company grew to provide a wide range of services in addition to hospice care, including private duty nursing, case management, palliative care and grief care.
The name Hospice of the Bluegrass no longer reflected all of the services we provided, nor did it allow for the addition of other non-hospice services in the future. As our lines of service had evolved, our brand also needed to evolve. And yet, thousands in the community had grown to trust the name and the level of care we provided under the Hospice of the Bluegrass brand.
We knew that changing a name after 30 years had to be done right, so we engaged with a nationally recognized firm that specializes in branding and marketing for hospice and palliative care. A series of surveys and focus groups with family healthcare decision makers showed our company’s brand awareness exceeded national averages. In fact, it scored so well that the marketing experts recommended that we keep “Bluegrass” as part of the new name, in order to help build a bridge from the existing name to the new one.
With our market research complete, several names were tested. In our initial tests, none of the names obtained consensus that gave us confidence it could be our new brand name. We went back to the drawing board twice, creating new naming conventions. Finally, with focus on the recurring themes heard in our market research, our new name was born: Bluegrass Care Navigators.
Our next step involved creating a short, concise tagline that would capture the essence of what we do each day. It needed to use as few words as possible to telegraph our mission statement to a wide audience – patients, payers and other healthcare partners – in a memorable way. We wanted it to reflect our identity, expertise, character and that we are a provider of care, without repeating any of the elements from our new brand name.
The solution? Expert. Connected. Care.
Expert. From our board certified physicians to our skilled nursing and support staff, we wanted to underscore our experience and expertise in each of our service lines. We have a unique blend of knowledge, insights and talents gleaned from serving thousands of patients and families – and we wanted to highlight it in creating our new slogan.
Connected. The care teams deliver the right care at the right time in the right place by working as a cohesive team. They connect daily with their colleagues, other care providers, payers and suppliers.
Care. Every employee at Bluegrass Care Navigators is involved in one way or another with providing care, guiding people to care or supporting the care our patients and families receive. With Navigators as part of our name, we wanted to emphasize that we not only guide but provide care, too.
As we complete our transition to Bluegrass Care Navigators, we plan to co-brand with references to our old name during the first year. In this day of acquisitions and mergers, without the co-branding, some may assume that Hospice of the Bluegrass has gone away. Spreading the word about our new name must be done while letting the community know that we are the same company, with the same passion and expertise as they have come to know and trust.
–Cassandra Mitchell is vice president of Marketing & Business Development at Hospice of the Bluegrass, now Bluegrass Care Navigators.