Michelle Davis, VP of Public
Affairs and Marketing
just launched its new “brand.” What’s a brand?
It’s the promise that an institution or company makes to its customers,
in our case our patients and their families. We need to present
that promise in a way that distinguishes us from our competitors
and captures both the rational and emotional reasons why patient
families prefer Children’s Hospital Boston. Arnold Worldwide, the
advertising agency that helped us develop the brand, went one step
further and defined the parents most inclined to take an active
role in the decision-making process when selecting a hospital.
Children’s has very strong and positive brand recognition in Eastern
Massachusetts, and we want to retain that reputation, but we also
want to expand our brand nationally. This is important for several
reasons. First, we’re in a competitive market with other institutions
that offer inpatient and outpatient pediatric services. Second,
the hospital has set fairly aggressive goals for the growth of the
hospital and its services, which include the addition of 50 beds
by the end of this decade. During that time though, the pediatric
population in Massachusetts and throughout New England is not supposed
to grow much. So we need to look beyond New England to make consumers
and referring physicians aware of our services.
What is Children’s brand promise?
|“we need to look beyond New England to make
consumers and referring physicians aware of our services.”
To deliver the world’s best pediatric care and conduct life-changing
research. We use three words to encapsulate these ideals: optimism,
innovation and devotion. I think optimism surprises people who aren’t
familiar with Children’s, but I see it every day in the hallways
with smiling children and parents content that they’re in a place
where there are help and answers.
No matter how difficult the case, Children’s won’t say no. We’ll
find a way to treat your child when others have failed. And we’ll
do it in a way that their childhood isn’t interrupted more than
it already has been. That means getting the child back to their
life outside the hospital quickly, but it also means taking care
of the “child” while they’re here in the hospital. To do so requires
the devotion and innovation of the staff, which truly make us who
How was the brand developed?
About a year ago, Arnold Worldwide, a $2 billion advertising agency
whose clients include Volkswagen and Fidelity, agreed to take Children’s
on as a pro bono client. This means the hospital would
not be charged for the agency’s professional services and Arnold
would use relationships they’ve built with other clients to get
services and marketing materials either donated to the hospital
or given at a discount. Since then, a team of over 40 people from
Arnold has been advising and supporting the hospital. They started
by interviewing staff and patients to find out what distinguishes
Children’s from our competitors and what patients and families find
compelling when making a health care selection. Based on these interviews
and direct and indirect consumer research, they determined that
Children’s key attributes should be communicated, and developed
a strategy to build a national presence, which is the basis for
an advertising campaign that will be launching in Boston and a national
test market this month.
Why is the hospital spending money on branding when there
are more pressing priorities?
We operate in a competitive market and, in the long run,
need to promote our brand to inform potential patients, donors and
employees about why what we do is so important and unique. Our budget
is actually well under what most hospitals are spending for marketing.
In the past, we’ve spent our limited marketing budget on reaching
out to referring physicians, but Arnold’s research shows that consumers
are becoming much more active in the health care decision making
process, that their children’s health is more important than their
own and, with the advent of the Internet, they’re doing their homework.
We want to reach out to them directly so when they need to seek
treatment for their child, we’re the first hospital they think of.
How are we launching the brand?
We actually had a “soft launch” of our brand last year when we promoted
the hospital in the local and national media, which doubled the
coverage of the hospital. As the next step, television commercials
and magazine advertising will appear locally and be tested in a
national market. We’re also redesigning the hospital’s Web page
and partnering with companies like Yahoo! to promote the hospital’s
clinical services (the
story). And finally, even though we’re reaching out directly
to patients, we know that the hospital’s nearly 7,000 employees
can best promote what we do, so we’ll have hospital-wide events
to show the new brand to everyone like we had last week with the
How does the brand relate to employees?
Your role in the brand begins with the work you do everyday to ensure
the most advanced and compassionate care is delivered, whether you
serve food in the Café with a smile, care for patients at the bedside,
perform surgery or discover a new pathway for a molecule. It’s how
we answer the phones, provide directions to lost parents in the
hallway, and talk about what we do at Children’s to our friends
and family. It’s played out in thousands of ways every day, and
by the thousands of people who choose to come to work at Children’s
more on Children's new brand identity, including a look at the
new print and TV ads, please click