From possibility to reality
Birmingham-based Baptist Health System and Brookwood Medical Center were slated to leave their independence behind and come together as one bigger, stronger entity. Internal stakeholders at the top were excited about the possibilities the partnership would open. But the path from possibility to reality had yet to be charted. And while executives were asking where to start, physicians, employees and consumers wondered, “What does this mean for me?”
Finding out whether or not opposites really attract
From the early days, it was clear that we were working through an oil-and-water situation. Before the merger, Baptist Health System was a non-profit, faith-based, administrator-led organization. Alternatively, while Brookwood Medical Center held a strong Southern empathy, it was founded by physicians and had no religious affiliation. The Baptist brand was emotionally driven; Brookwood more focused on the functional. (In good fun, we even personified Baptist as June Carter Cash and Brookwood as Robo Cop!) With such dissimilar legacies, cultures and modes of operating, the prospect of creating a future together was challenging. But it was also incredibly exciting, as the partnership held the potential to offer consumers the region’s most convenient, comprehensive and integrated healthcare experience.
"We have this moniker—CIG, change is good. If you fail to evolve with the health care system, you become irrelevant."
Uncovering common ground
We dove straight into research, combining qualitative and quantitative to reveal opportunities that we could strategically capitalize on at every point in the brand-building process.
Among the key opportunities we uncovered:
- There was whitespace in the market for an organization dedicated to delivering progressively patient-centered and personalized care as opposed to leaning on academic medicine (a poorly understood topic) or superficial notions like quality alone.
- Consumers don’t make care decisions based on whether an organization is faith-based on nonprofit. Rather, they’re far more concerned about receiving the highest quality of care in a compassionate environment with a strong reputation. This is also the key concern of physicians and employees in the market.
A few challenges also came to light, among them:
- Mergers weren’t met with open arms in Birmingham and the surrounding areas where the newly merged organization would operate. The perception was that bigger meant less efficient and less personal.
- Baptist staff were concerned about losing their faith-based affiliation, while Brookwood staff were concerned about feeling forced to adopt it.
Connecting to patients and communities
The go-forward name for the new entity, Brookwood Baptist Health, combined legacy components from both brands and became the starting point around which everyone could rally. Establishing a powerful, singular brand idea—the delivery of progressively personal patient care—further solidified the sense of unity.
By aligning on a masterbrand architecture strategy, Brookwood Baptist Health elevated its name in the market and made it easier for consumers to understand the incredible depth and breadth that was offered. This was a big change for an organization with myriad local practice names. Leadership from the executive suite to boards and communities were committed to a unified system story, and the research helped to increase confidence that abandoning practice names could be the pathway to success. In-depth discussions with “owners” of these brands, including physicians, helped pave the way for change.
Today, every part of the portfolio is linked to the system not only through name but also through design. The new symbol features three interwoven rings that represent the brand’s focus on holistic, connected, patient-centric care while also subtly nodding to the Christian heritage of Baptist Health System. The design system—including the photography, which bears three bands weaving around its human subjects—further underscores the notions of focus on the patient and connection.
With five hospitals, 77 primary and specialty care clinics and 1,700 patient beds, Brookwood Baptist Health is the largest health system in the Yellowhammer State.
Some 1,500 affiliated physicians are among the members of Brookwood Baptist Health’s team.
At the time of partnership, the two systems combined over a century of service to the community.
Brookwood Baptist Health is in the midst of introducing myriad improvements across its care locations over a five-year period, among them an operating room expansion, acquisition of robotic surgery equipment and information technology upgrades.