brand expeditions Brand Experience Rebranding Visual Branding

The Slow Birth of a Healthcare Brand: Amoskeag Health

In May 2015, my good friend, Chad Campbell of SilverTech, introduced me to the director of advancement of Manchester Community Health Center – a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). It is hard to believe that was four years ago. Chad mentioned that the organization’s board was having discussions about rebranding and needed some professional guidance. Federally Qualified Health Centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They do amazing work but typically don’t have a lot of extra funds for undertaking marketing and branding initiatives.

I managed to manipulate my travel schedule so I could be in Manchester, NH for Manchester Community Health Center’s next board meeting. One of my firm’s values is that we always want to be able to help small and underfunded organizations, realizing that they often represent an opportunity for us to make a significant impact. On July 28th, 2015, I met with the board and gave them my branding 101 presentation. I made sure to infuse a strong sense of realism into the rebranding discussion. If they were going to enter a rebranding initiative, I wanted to make sure they did so with eyes wide open. Manchester Community Health Center, at the time that I met them, was an amalgamation of brands and acronyms: Child Health Services (CHS), Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC), and West Side Neighborhood Health Center (WSNHC). (Listen to me when I say that acronyms are often the enemy of the marketer! They get in the way of clear communication.) Manchester Community Health Center was a high functioning organization providing exceptional healthcare services. They also had the typical challenges that you might expect when you bring multiple groups together under one umbrella. That evening, 18 board members were in attendance for my presentation. They asked really smart questions.

In September 2016, Manchester Community Health Center sent out an RFP looking for a firm to guide them through the rebranding process. In November, we were notified that my firm won the opportunity with a proposal that largely included pro bono work. From there, it took us another 2 years to get to the point where we could launch the new brand. First and most importantly, we conducted a comprehensive brand assessment that engaged all conceivable brand constituents. This was no easy matter. This organization serves individuals within the community speaking more than 60 different languages. We needed to hear from these people and develop a new brand name that wouldn’t be offputting from a language or cultural perspective. We also needed to hear from employees throughout the organization and make sure they felt included in the process. Their insights were instrumental in the development of the new brand. Community members, business leaders, medical leaders, board members, and other VIPs were also included in the process. To be honest, the leadership team at Manchester Community Health Center gets 90% of the credit for making this new brand initiative a success. At every step of the way, they worked to involve their board members, clinicians, employees, and other key constituents. They also had their fingers on the pulse of the local community and never lost sight of the fact that this brand had to resonate on a local level. This was truly their initiative and we were simply consultants. My team at Jennings is grateful for the opportunity to work with this amazing group. I’d like to give a shout out to my co-worker, Tim Brennan, who is based in our New England office and worked with me every step of the way on this engagement.

On June 13, 2019, Manchester Community Health Center proudly introduced the community to its new brand identity: Amoskeag Health. Here’s a quote from Kathleen Davidson, Chair of the Amoskeag Health Board of Directors. Kathleen was one of the people we interviewed during the brand assessment. “Our new brand will bring our three organizations under one name and one logo to communicate to patients and stakeholders that we are one organization with many sites and programs. We worked closely with Jennings Healthcare Marketing for more than a year to engage stakeholders and to identify a new name and brand that would unify our organization and distinguish it from other key non-profit organizations in our local area.”  (Source: Manchester Ink Link, June 13, 2019)

Where did the name Amoskeag Health come from? “Long term stakeholders of CHS & MCHC recommended a name that would ring true about where we are located and our primary service area as a part of our identity. The new name reflects the history of our wonderful city and identifies a name that reflects our roots but distinguishes us from other service organizations in town. After careful consideration, we have elected to move forward with renaming our organization, Amoskeag Health,” explained Kris McCracken, President and CEO of Amoskeag Health. (Source: Manchester Ink Link, June 13, 2019) Amoskeag is an important name in the history and geography of Manchester, NH and the surrounding region. The Penacook Indians originally called the area “Amoskeag” referring to the abundance provided by the river and falls. Later, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company (textiles) would found Manchester, New Hampshire. It grew throughout the 19th century into the largest cotton textile plant in the world. The choice of this new name was inspired by the folks at Manchester Community Health Center (with the help of a local historian) and their constituents because of its regional relevance.

The new logo is the anchor of the organization’s new visual brand identity. It is an encapsulation of who they are as an organization, and all that they stand for — access, connectedness, and health care credibility. The logo my team developed contains all kinds of symbolism relevant to the brand: The birch tree within the logo shows strength and vitality, representing Amoskeag Health’s high-quality primary care for the whole person. The birch tree, native to New Hampshire, also represents the organization’s commitment to the region they serve. The tree is portrayed in a contemporary, fresh, leading-edge manner, with bold colors. This is very much a representation of the Amoskeag Health brand which brings contemporary, leading-edge solutions to primary care. And the unique shape of the leaves and range of vivid colors celebrate Amoskeag Health’s distinctive character and commitment to its constituents from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and nations.

Below is the first page from the Brand Guidelines that we produced:

I am so excited for Amoskeag Health as it moves forward, unified by this new brand identity and a strong sense of shared values. This is a special group doing incredibly important work. It was an honor to play a small role in this process.


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