The content below came from the May 16th session “Lessons from Outside Healthcare: What Happened at Henry Ford Health” presented by Justin Wartell, Principal at Monigle and Heather Geisler, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Henry Ford Health in Salt Lake City at the conference organized by The Forum for Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies.
Heather Geisler didn’t start off in healthcare. Most of her career has been spent considering storytelling through different lenses: politics, journalism, and hospitality. In each of these roles, she worked on dynamic and evolving brands. So when she moved to healthcare in September 2020 to join Henry Ford Health System (at the time), it signaled a change for her, but also for the organization she was joining.
Heather shared that the CEO of Henry Ford Health at the time, Wright Lassiter III, established three key goals for the role (during the interview in fact!):
- Increase the impact and influence of the Henry Ford Health brand beyond its existing regional footprint
- Make Henry Ford Health the most consumer-centric experience in healthcare
- Transform and optimize the brand, marketing, and experience teams to deliver on brand and business goals
Henry Ford Health has a storied history in the Detroit area, first opening its doors as Henry Ford Hospital in 1915. The organization’s tagline when Geisler started was “All for you.” While it may have fit the mold to be consumer-centric, it wasn’t patient-directed. Geisler’s team needed to put the wants, desires, and needs of patients and consumers at the center who the organization is, and develop meaningful connections beyond healthcare-related transactions along the way.
The organization had varying degrees of understanding of what brand meant for the organization as its marketing team had historically played a communications-centered role. Geisler’s team began by educating leaders and all of the organization’s 32,000 employees about what a brand is, what it does to bring mission to life, and why it’s worth investing in as a way to stand out in an ever more competitive and quickly shifting marketplace. She said it was important to lay out the plan very clearly so everyone knew what to expect and what was expected of them.
Learn more: Henry Ford Health Case Study
With the foundation established through education, it was time to leverage partners that could then help to make change happen. With a storied history in healthcare branding and an orientation to rolling up your sleeves in support of brand, Monigle was an ideal partner for the team to help navigate this brand change.
Many healthcare brands face a sea of sameness. Geisler felt there was an opportunity to think differently about who they wanted to be, and the data showed an opportunity to build a more human connection with consumers.
Learn more: Guiding principles for creating a human brand
To get there, Geisler led a process to define a brand archetype that expressed a unique tone and point of view. In other words, if the brand was a person, what would it embody? The team chose a bold path, working to embody the Magician archetype—a style characterized by the attributes of visionary, knowledgeable, and reassuring. This purposeful shift set a different direction for the brand and the team supporting it; Henry Ford Health would be a different kind of healthcare experience.
With the Magician archetype in mind, the team landed on a brand promise anchored to the needs of the people they wanted to serve, “Your relentless advocate in making the impossible, possible.” This tone and statement established the creative starting point for Monigle to explore a new look and feel for the brand and how it is delivered.
From Geisler’s vast experience building brands, she knew it was important to bring employees along on the journey. If the internal folks were not on board, the external brand wouldn’t work. Enter a brand campaign called “I am Henry.” The campaign is a platform for employee and patient storytelling. For the next 3-5 years, it will serve as an internal rallying cry and a clear view to the future focused on those who work in and receive care across the growing system that is Henry Ford Health. Combining this campaign with the transformation of all of the other brand touchpoints—physically and digitally—across the market and throughout the brand experience.
Photos from the new brand launch event.
At the end of the presentation, Geisler shared three main pieces of advice that she would give to other healthcare leaders embarking on a rebrand and a reinvigoration of their cultures:
- Have a socialization strategy. Bring the right people to the table for awareness and input, but give your team of marketing, communications, and experience leaders the space to succeed in what they do best: long-term brand and experience growth.
- Relentlessly leverage a model to move hearts and minds. This includes three steps: educate, inform, engage. Education is critical to strong outcomes and buy-in, and many tend to skip this step as other areas of focus command attention.
- Hold onto inspiration in tough times. Find ways—big and small—to build community, connection, and inspiration into your work to address the setbacks, the frustrations, and the impediments that sometimes get in the way of greatness.
Interested in an inspiring rebrand that includes a socialization strategy? Contact us, we’d love to chat!