Trend: The importance of addressing internal alignment issues

One percent vision, 99 percent alignment

In Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” they say “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.”

Before I go on, let’s go back to the basics: what exactly is alignment? From a patient perspective, alignment is having consistently good experiences with your brand across multiple locations and multiple staff members, from the doctors and nurses to the receptionists and administrators. Internally, alignment is everyone understanding the brand promise and delivering it.

What’s in a name?

Complicating the matter further is the continuous reorganization of healthcare entities resulting in name changes, rebrands, and the fusing of multiple names and identities into one.

Here are just a few examples of name changes resulting from mergers in our industry:

Dignity Health + Catholic Health Initiatives = CommonSpirit


Greenville Health System + Palmatto Health = Prisma Health


Aurora Health Care + Advocate Health Care = AdvocateAuroraHealth


Some of these companies took the two existing names (and logos) and combined them together, while other systems came up with a completely new name. How do you take two different companies with their own culture and methods and throw them together?

If there is no central vision that everyone can get behind, the employees will likely only be loyal to their old coworkers and organization, not the new one. For example, one client we worked with had three separate entities working together at their cancer center. Through one-on-one interviews we could see everyone was very proud of the entity they were associated with, but had problems when it came to communicating with the others.

You can’t just slap a logo on an office building and expect people to understand your brand or distinguish it from any other. What is the single brand promise that everyone within the new organization can live up to?

Is it sticky?

When it comes to rebranding with a new name, there are even more questions to ask. Does this name meaningfully differentiate from every other name in the market? Will people actually want to use this name? How will I get it to stick?

We recently worked with a client who had this problem – a name change that didn’t stick. The brand confusion was so bad even the employees couldn’t answer the question “who do you work for?” Because their brand was so complicated, we needed to make it simple. Simplicity quickly became the cornerstone of our entire re-brand, with the new positioning: “Simpler healthcare you can trust.” Instead of giving the health system a new, unfamiliar name, we again chose to keep it simple, shortening “Frederick Regional Health System” to “Frederick Health.”

The next step was crucial: getting the entire staff on board with the name change and vision for the organization moving forward. The marketing team knew if everyone didn’t “drink the Kool-Aid” it would never stick with the employees across all departments. If it didn’t stick with the employees, there was no way it would stick with the average Joe in the community, no matter how big of a sign they put up or how much advertising they bought touting the new name.


Given the M&A activity, healthcare marketers are put in a unique and challenging situation, but also one where they can truly help patients by offering more services, locations, and hopefully, more convenience and ease. If a patient has consistently good experiences with your brand across multiple locations, they’ll be more likely to continue to seek you out in the future. Think about die-hard Starbucks or Dunkin’ customers. They’re willing to go out of their way for the perfect cup of coffee instead of settling for something else. There’s no reason why the same theory shouldn’t apply to healthcare.

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