Branding to Build Your Culture, Census and Continuum

 In Preparing for the Future

Changing your brand name – especially if it’s been established for decades – is a really big deal. And a major financial investment. And more than a little scary.

Yet the need for many healthcare providers to evolve or even completely overhaul their brand often can be glaring. For instance, many hospice providers across the nation established their brands as “Hospice of _____________” (fill in the blank … with the blank being a geographic reference to a specific city, county, region or state).

Trouble is, as those organizations grew, they frequently added service lines upstream from hospice care and expanded beyond their original service territory. In short, they literally outgrew their brand name, while trying to cling to it or add other brand names to accommodate non-hospice services and remove geographic references.

As tough as it may be to change a brand that’s been part of the community for decades, wise organizations have gone about rebranding strategically and boldly. Because rebranding also represents a stellar opportunity to proclaim your identity and forge the foundation for an even more successful future.

This blog post shares a case study of how one provider – Centrica Care Navigators based in Kalamazoo, Michigan – took the rebranding plunge and the positive impact it’s had on their business.

Centrica Care Navigators applied the following three key principles in creating their new brand. And your organization can, too.

1. Embrace the time to change and set a new cornerstone for the future. Centrica Care Navigators had long been established as “Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.” Over time, they added other service lines, including adult day services and palliative care. Not only was their brand name limiting and rather generic sounding, they found that “hospice” could be a turnoff to patients and families seeking care upstream from end of life. The organization recognized that rebranding provided a blank slate to establish an identity that could encompass a growing continuum of care both for today and for years to come. Working with Transcend Strategy Group, they embraced the opportunity to create a new brand that captured and communicated the essence of their mission, values and vision. Applying the results of market research and Transcend’s strategic process, the organization decided to rebrand as Centrica Care Navigators with a positioning theme of “Expert care, centered on you.” The new name and positioning provided a platform to engrain their brand story of guiding patients and families through serious illness while keeping personal goals, needs and wishes at the center of all care initiatives.



2. Make your culture and its purpose integral to the new brand. An effective brand must be developed with its target audiences squarely in mind. And a crucial audience is your own staff and prospective employees. Centrica Care Navigators engaged their employees throughout the rebranding process, building a brand story that helped each identify their role in fulfilling the organization’s true purpose. Part of Centrica’s brand story says, “Centrica Care Navigators will keep you and your family at the center of our expert care. We focus on you as a whole person – not just your illness or disease – and surround you with a circle of care and compassion for your body, mind and spirit. You can count on Centrica Care Navigators to walk with you throughout your entire journey of serious illness, guiding and supporting you on the path you choose. Centrica will meet you wherever you are in your journey and help lead you to the right care at the right time.”

Denise King, Centrica’s chief marketing and development officer, explains how this approach helped connect with their current staff and appeal to new recruits: “Transcend helped us craft and convey the messaging of looking at Centrica Care Navigators as a total package. It is not just about pay but also culture and a sense of purpose. We invited prospects to ‘Join our circle of care.’

Denise King Quote

3. Keep patients and families at the center of your brand – and your marketing. Smart brands also start with the “why” of their existence. Centrica’s brand is all about keeping patients and families at the center of the agency’s expert care. A focus of the new brand’s marketing strategy was to target messaging directly at family healthcare decision makers and family caregivers. With Centrica’s growing continuum of care, the agency was able to let families know that care and support are available at any stage of serious illness. An entire campaign was created to showcase caregiver support, including the addition of downloadable caregiver resources on the agency’s website. Transcend’s experience during the past 20 years has proven that appealing directly to family caregivers can significantly improve direct engagement with consumers and boost family/self-referrals.

About a year before Centrica’s rebranding, their hospice census was averaging in the high 400s. In less than a year after rebranding and appealing to family caregivers, census has surpassed 600 – more than a 20 percent gain in hospice ADC. Centrica’s other service lines in their continuum also have been experiencing positive changes supported by their cohesive brand.

Do you know that your brand needs to undergo substantial changes to keep pace with today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape? Are you recognizing that a total rebrand is likely in order? What are your greatest obstacles and challenges to moving forward and realizing the full potential of what your agency offers to your community?

Transcend Strategy Group is here to help. We have partnered with dozens of providers in markets of all sizes across the nation to refresh, renovate or completely reinvent brands. How can we assist you in getting your arms around all the factors and the strategic processes to rebrand for smart growth? Contact me at to start the conversation.

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