Clarifying the brand of a medical association to reinforce transformation
One of the largest and most respected medical associations was having an identity crisis in the midst of healthcare reform that threatened the livelihood of its members and customers. Because the institution had many constituents, membership and commercial entities, and an increasingly important public policy arm, its brand became fragmented and under-leveraged. Further confusing the situation was the fact that the association needed to represent both its own brand while promoting the brand of its members’ specialty. Additionally, the brand was losing relevance and differentiation as competitors for members and commercial offers in accreditation and proficiency testing were challenging the company’s historic premium position as the “gold standard.” To address these issues while reinforcing comprehensive transformation efforts underway, the brand needed to increase its influence over healthcare decision-making while provide a focus of identity and distinction to set a positive trajectory into the future.
Baselines of the current state were established by conducting extensive qualitative research with a broad set of audiences including healthcare executives, physicians, residents, members, and senior managers/employees. This research uncovered opportunities for improvement and insights that helped to create alternatives for the brand’s essence that would become the platform for all future developments. Two seminal frameworks were also developed: one that clarified roles of each brand relative to different audience types and another that established a “two-in-one” brand model that clarified shared and distinct elements in what was a symbiotic relationship. A series of well-orchestrated brand summits with the executive operating committee were also conducted, as well as several members of the Board of Governors to hone in on the best concept and gain buy-in within a highly political environment made up of professional business managers and world-renowned specialty physicians (all with "strong" opinions). The outcome of the brand summits was inspired ideas that built off of earlier research with real energy for the program going forward. Guiding principles of the brand were later codified and several concepts were built out, which were shared and further refined with the institution’s CEO who was, and continues to be, highly engaged in the process, outcomes, and marshaling through with the rest of the organization.
The final brand strategy was presented and enthusiastically endorsed at the annual Board of Governors meeting. Currently, a new visual identity is being developed to express the new brand strategy in communications and digital environments while guiding audience value proposition development.