When is a hospice not a hospice? The dilemma of making bold branding decisions in the changing world of palliative care.
Background and aims Exploring the journey of one organisation and how it made the boldest decision of its history to remove the word Hospice from its identity; what inspired the transformation, the process that was undertaken and the opportunities and the pitfalls facing similar organisations considering a radical change of brand.
Following a perception study which highlighted significant misconceptions of the organisation’s brand and services, the transformation that followed set out to dispel long held myths about hospices and improve early referral rates, dispel fears about services and widen the reach for improved income generation.
Methods and results A perception study with a wide cross section of stakeholders was conducted to provide a platform for a new vision and strategic direction. The outcomes and dilemmas presented by the study required further research specifically on brand. The study outcomes demonstrated a difference of view between stakeholders but provided a bold new direction for the charity and a significant change management and leadership challenge. The long term outcomes will require more time to measure. Early indicators show positive engagement with the change but stakeholder roles in the organisation and the effective management of the change are also determining factors.
Conclusions The aim is not to make fixed recommendations but to openly share both the positive and negative aspects of one organisation’s experience to provide learning for others considering the same course of action. The costs, change management and reputational risk of rebranding are significant for any hospice. If the early positive indicators turn into long term benefits, a bold brand repositioning could have a significant impact in addressing long held myths and improve access to palliative care for generations to come.
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