brand expeditions Rebranding

Don’t Be So Quick To Judge New Brand Identities

I was just starting to get comfortable with Carolinas HeathCare Systems’ new name (Atrium Health) when I read yesterday that Greenville Health System (South Carolina) and Palmetto Health have merged and are rebranding as Prisma Health. Evidently “Prism” was already taken so they opted Prisma. Change is in the air!

Ever since Carolinas announced that it was becoming Atrium, people have commented to me about how much they dislike the name. First, it’s not a horrible name. An Atrium is usually a bright, open, welcoming part of a home. In ancient times, the atrium contained the hearth and was the place where the family gathered. I can think of worse associations for a health system. Heck, in healthcare we need to be more welcoming.

My problem with people critiquing new brand names is that these critics rarely have any knowledge of the strategy and planning that went into the rebranding. Both Atrium and Prisma have chosen names that are free of geographic limits. This leaves both organizations free to make acquisitions in other states without having to once again rebrand. That’s a strategic decision that makes sense. Both organizations have chosen names that lend themselves to storytelling. My assumption is that they are also both free of intellectual property entanglements because they are unique.

I remember when my firm helped launch the Vidant Health brand several years ago, people were quick to criticize the name. The local newspaper wrote a scathing editorial about how the health system had abandoned its regional roots by dropping “Eastern Carolina” from its name – although the newspaper had done the same thing years earlier. (The health system was previously known as University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.) Within eight months of the launch of the new brand identity, Vidant’s brand awareness and preference had surpassed that of its prior brand identity which had been in place for 14 years.

My wisdom for the day: It is easy to be a sideline critic when you don’t know the facts that went into a decision.

Breaking News:

As I was finishing this post, I read that Dunkin’ Donuts just announced that it is rebranding as just Dunkin’ to allow it to put more emphasis on its coffee and other offerings. Through the new name, they are simplifying and modernizing their identity. Change is all around us.


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