If you’re bringing two (or more) brands together in 2023, you undoubtedly feel enormous pressure to get it right. After all, rebranding is never easy, and M&A-driven rebrands are particularly challenging. Typically, time is of the essence and there are often a host of legal and regulatory complexities to bear in mind.
It’s important to put a smart implementation strategy in place even before the deal is official. But how can you plan effectively if you’ve never been through a rebrand of this nature? And what’s the best way to balance the varied needs of your internal and external stakeholders while achieving the market impact your organization expects?
No two rebrands are exactly alike, but you can learn valuable lessons from organizations that have navigated this process successfully. To that end, here’s a look at how a BrandActive client recently implemented cohesive and impactful brand change as a result of a merger.
How three healthcare organizations kept the patient experience at the heart of a merger and strategic partnership
In April 2022, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced their intent to merge into a unified non-profit organization called the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (aka Fred Hutch). Fred Hutch also restructured its longstanding partnership with UW Medicine and now serves as the cancer program for UW Medicine while remaining an independent organization.
Fred Hutch wanted to introduce the new name and visual identity in a way that minimized confusion for patients. They also needed to roll out a cohesive co-branding strategy with UW Medicine.
Laying the groundwork for a consistent brand experience
Having already created their brand architecture through a creative agency, Fred Hutch engaged BrandActive to elaborate that work and help apply the new architecture from the ground up.
We started by:
- Gathering data and conducting a thorough assessment of all three organizations to understand where each brand appeared and what required changing
- Identifying places and spaces where the brands should (and shouldn’t) overlap
- Guiding workgroup members to follow the new brand guidelines on how to apply the brand on branded assets and via internal and external messaging
Charting out a positive patient experience
Next, we evaluated how patients might interact with and perceive the brand in order to improve their overall experience. We focused on:
- Ensuring patient-facing touchpoints like signage, web and digital channels, ID badges, workwear/lab coats, and specialty fleet vehicles like mammogram vans and shuttle busses, were converted to the new brand as quickly as possible
- Assessing and optimizing wayfinding (which includes but is not limited to signage) to help patients and their families find appointments and healthcare providers more easily
- Supporting workgroups to update intake forms, clinical documentation, and billing paperwork to minimize patient confusion from start to finish
Along the way, we also looked for opportunities to reduce the budgetary impact of the rebrand, especially since Fred Hutch is a non-profit organization. For example, we learned about plans to introduce a new ID badge system in 2024. So rather than replace badges twice, we applied overlays to existing badges as a cost-effective, temporary solution.
Fred Hutch’s rebranding journey is ongoing. But because the brand team prioritized building a strong brand architecture and training employees to carry out their new brand promise, they’re well on their way to a successful end result.
Are you ready for the challenges an M&A-driven rebrand will bring?
If a merger, acquisition, or strategic partnership is on the horizon for your organization, brand change won’t be far behind. And once the deal is publicized, you’ll need to act quickly to help your organization reach its strategic goals.
BrandActive can help you think through every detail of an M&A-driven rebrand and develop an implementation plan that factors in every consideration. Don’t go it alone — let’s talk.