Success Story: Post-Merger Branding: Strategic Positioning for Growth and Success
It’s a choice that many health systems and healthcare providers who have grown through partnerships or acquisitions may face: Is it better to continue as a disjointed “house of brands” or to come together under one “branded house?” The decision can have a profound effect on the company’s perception to important stakeholders and how the company will approach its growth moving forward.
This was the question faced by a young, private-equity-backed firm in the business of aggregating medical practices. At the time Jarrard Inc. was engaged, the company had developed a highly selective portfolio of four practice groups of 1,800 physicians who were providing quality clinical care to hospitals and facilities in three states. Leadership planned to double the company’s revenue within three years, and that meant attracting additional physician groups and national and regional payer contracts to its network.
The organization was operating as a house of brands, relying on the reputational equity of its disparate physician partners’ legacy brands to help drive business. Although the corporate identity had little presence in its various markets, efforts were underway to consolidate and standardize back-office functions and the company’s organizational structure.
Jarrard Inc. was retained to gain insights for leadership on the risks and benefits of moving to a single brand, as well as to determine the right strategic positioning path to achieve its growth goals.
To gain a clear picture of the company’s current state, we began with an audit – which included more than 30 interviews of 16 leaders, 10 clinicians and five employees – to assess the internal dynamics that would begin to help inform our brand strategy. Taken into consideration were:
The practices involved were highly regarded in their individual markets and boasted significant brand equity. Would the company jeopardize that existing legacy brand equity by moving to a unified national brand?
The physician groups partnering with the company had majority ownership stakes in their practices. Therefore, unilateral decisions without justification or buy-in from the physician owners would not go far.
We augmented the face-to-face interviews with insights from six hospital clients, an audit of current marketing and communications efforts, benchmarking against six direct competitors, an analysis of industry trends and a digital audit.
After working with the company and its financial, physician and hospital partners, the verdict was clear: Become a branded house under a single banner.
This decision was based on a host of factors, including:
- The growing need for national brand recognition among target organizations as part of an intelligent business development push;
- The realization – informed by discussions with client hospitals – that the esteem the company’s physician practices held would not suffer with new branding; and
- The receptiveness among physician partners once they understood the value of a single company brand.
The move allowed the company to put cohesive effort into defining its mission, vision and values. It enabled them to build a more holistic culture and to establish a recognized platform to assert its position as an industry leader.
Moving to a single brand does not effectively happen overnight. We began the journey with a thoughtful rollout and rebrand effort in a single test market, as well as a companywide road show to gain buy in across stakeholders to the new strategic direction. The company then used this model to rebrand existing practices and onboard new acquisitions.
The result was a more integrated and engaged workforce, from physician leaders and advanced practitioners to employees in all functional areas of the organization. The company found ways to honor the heritage brands to reflect their roots, while establishing a clear vision for their shared future. Truly functioning as one unified organization now allows them to increase access to care, improve patient outcomes, realize efficiencies and combine clinical standards of care. The relationships with external stakeholders also continue to thrive through ongoing communications efforts.
The answer to this “branded house or house of brands” question differs depending on the company. Through thorough assessment and truly understanding the dynamics at play, we helped this organization build a cohesive brand story that will drive integration and foster growth for the future.
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