Vitalant

Employing magic and awe to disrupt a transactional industry.

Unifying a fragmented organization into a vital new force

Blood Systems is the largest blood donation organization you’ve never heard of. With 11 brands and over 125 donation centers across the country, Blood Systems rivals the American Red Cross in size and volume. Its two renowned research institutes are pushing the limits of what is possible in the field of transfusion medicine, while also uncovering medical breakthroughs in cellular therapy and immunology. Yet its siloed and fragmented structure has prevented Blood Systems from telling its complete story–one that is powered by the alchemy of science, innovation and purpose–and leveraging its scale and network to drive impact.

In the context of a struggling industry where the act of donating blood has become transactional and participation from younger generations is nearly nonexistent, Blood Systems recognized that a radical change was not only an opportunity, but a requirement for survival. Monigle was asked to help define a brand and architecture strategy that would transcend the transactional nature of the category and bring it to life with a powerful and inspiring new name and identity. This was wrapped with a plan for forward momentum—one that would incorporate the magic and humanity of donation into a brand vision with the potential to disrupt the entire category.

“We act like we’re small when we need to be doing the opposite and act bigger. We need to increase our synergy and celebrate our reach.”AnonymousInternal Stakeholder, Vitalant

Moving from transaction to transformation

For over a century, the ubiquitous call to action in the industry has been to save lives by donating blood. While accurate and important, this language has been overused and worn out, no longer triggering the sense of urgency or action that it once did. Our strategy relied on finding a new way to motivate and inspire new and existing donors to donate. Internal stakeholder interviews, as well as qualitative and quantitative research with donors and customers revealed a resounding insight: from beginning to end, the process of transfusion medicine is filled with transformation in both its figurative and literal sense. Not just for the recipient whose life is transformed, or the donated blood which then is transformed into several different components that have the potential to save up to three lives. Donors shared their own stories of personal transformation as the act of donating blood gave them an unmatched sense of purpose, awe and impact.

This insight marked a shift in Blood Systems’ purpose, from saving lives to helping others realize their life-transforming potential. The name Vitalant was selected as an active, uplifting homage to life. The shifting butterfly “V” logo, with its inherent sense of movement, was created as a visual embodiment of transformation. A departure from the red ‘sea of sameness’ that exists in the category, the orange and purple colors symbolize a pulsing energy and life.

“This type of charity is unlike donating time, money or food. To me donating blood is a somewhat spiritual experience. You are giving something that was part of you to help a complete stranger live, and/or be healthy.”AnonymousLapsed Donor, Research

Making way for wonder

To deliver on the brand’s promise to create moments of awe, the strategy had to be contextualized internally so that employees could see themselves in the bigger picture and identify tangible ways to bring the brand to life. Innovation workshops with customer-facing employees, donor care specialists and phlebotomists allowed Vitalant’s own people to co-create ways in which the brand could be expressed in their unique roles. Monigle developed a brand voice that captures the brand’s curious, sagacious and open-hearted personality, and armed communicators with a messaging framework that uses knowledge, science and education to make the blood donation process approachable and awe-inspiring.

“There’s a true human element, unlike anything else in medicine or health care. It’s the one thing that only people can provide. Blood doesn’t know the boundaries of ethnicity or politics; it’s universal.”AnonymousInternal Stakeholder, Vitalant

Reinventing the organization—and the industry

Reaching 6000 employees at Vitalant outposts all over the country for the first time ever, a rallying call to action was provided–inviting them to become “awe makers.” At the same time, they combatted the frustration that many employees had expressed around their inability to properly express the deep sense of responsibility they feel about their work, and gave voice to the magical and awe-inspiring aspects of blood donation that other organizations have failed to articulate. Integrating these concepts efficiently and fully into everything from the brand touches has provided a clear path to a disruption that will not only change the category, but also serve the greater good.