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November 12, 2014 marks the official launch of The University of Vermont Health Network brand. The four hospitals that made up Fletcher Allen Partners have been working together for the last three years to improve patient care and operations. Giving the network a unifying name that emphasizes its academic core signals a commitment to working seamlessly across the organization to deliver the same level of excellence in patient care no matter where patients go within the network, and to embrace the changing health care landscape by focusing on value, quality and cost control.

Last week I had the chance to engage with many of North America’s most respected healthcare marketing leaders, at the 2014 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) conference in San Diego, CA. ‘Patient experience’ was a hot topic and a focus of many conference sessions.

Marketing executives charged with managing a company-wide brand transition know that the journey from project start to new brand launch can feel like a roller coaster ride. Corporate rebranding is a risky venture because it impacts a company’s reputation, its brand value, its employees and customers, and more.

My phone rings, and on the line is a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) tasked with leading a corporate rebranding initiative. The CMO is asking the Million-Dollar Question: “How much is our rebranding project going to cost?” The question typically arises during the CMO’s due diligence process before cost estimates are due to an executive team. Having guided Fortune 500 clients through complex rebranding projects for almost a decade, I realize the importance of arming my clients with realistic numbers they can feel confident presenting to the C-Suite.

In the fifteen years since BrandActive has been in the business of implementing new brands, we’ve heard our share of war stories. Most relate to clients who had an unhappy surprise, often due to a cost overrun or a timing interdependency that put a major wrinkle in their rebranding launch plans. Signage is a highly visible beacon for a new brand but it is also often the most expensive and complex element to execute in a rebranding project. Below are three practical examples of proactive strategies that can be employed to help ensure a smooth and successful signage transition.