6 things to consider
before you rebrand your healthcare space.
These days, hospital systems can be vast and complex organizations with many kinds of facilities. So, when one embarks on a sweeping identity rebrand, well-designed graphic systems unify disparate sites. They create a comforting, familiar experience for patients. And reflect the caliber of the institution at every turn.
If you're looking to express your brand throughout your space, you need more than a signage provider. Producing wayfinding signs is the bare minimum—there's so much more potential to consider. The right collaborator can make your signage system and experiential graphics the most valuable assets in your rebranding effort.
Not sure where to start? Here are the six top considerations when you're shopping for a partner to rebrand your space.
1. Be clear about the project and its purpose.
Like wayfinding, branding can mean different things to different people. So, make sure you're clear with your provider when you talk about rebranding your space. Is it a new sign on the front lawn, or a complete rollout of a brand story throughout the environment? It's important for the partner to clearly understand what aspect of the brand you're talking about. Are you rolling out a whole new mission, values, staff training?
Think about the feel you want to convey in your space. How perception drives revenue. It's not just a decorative endeavor, it's strategic and deliberate. So, you should work with someone who understands this on a deeper level.
2. Look for integrated design and wayfinding expertise.
If a space isn't welcoming and doesn't provide clean visual cues to orient the visitor and guide them, then the brand message will be lost. By integrating design and wayfinding, you can ensure that your signage and experiential graphics serve your brand.
The key is: design and wayfinding don't have to be approached as independent disciplines. In fact, when it comes time for implementation, design and wayfinding often become one and the same. Branding elements become landmarks that serve as wayfinding tools. They're exponentially stronger when they're married to each other. Unexpected issues are going to come up on the fly. You're going to have specific facilities that have unique needs and you need to address those needs in a short timeframe. Your provider should be able to respond to those unique needs as the project proceeds.
3. Ask about your provider's process early.
Is the partner you're considering a design-build provider, or do they approach those jobs separately? For instance, are they a design shop that outsources a fabricator, or vice versa? Some providers do both under one roof, which can be advantageous for many reasons—including project responsibility, brand consistency, process simplicity, and overall cost.
4. Find out who's going to own the execution, logistics and ongoing support.
Some health systems have dozens or hundreds of locations, all with unique features. A hospital, a doctor's practice, and an urgent care center all have different challenges. If your organization has a large footprint, it can be challenging to express a consistent brand across all the design elements system wide. Your partner should have experience in a range of environments and understand how to help you maintain consistency across branded spaces.
5. Clearly identify your audience.
Patients. Visitors. Staff. The whole community. When a health system rebrands their space, there can be several audiences to consider, and each deserves the full consideration of a well-planned brand experience. If you're going through a rebrand, your staff represent the front lines of your brand. They're your most important ambassadors. The way you communicate with them through the design and messaging of your space can shape how they think about your new brand. It can reinforce important attitudes and encourage them to be living examples of the experience you are creating.
6. Look for strategic thinking.
Recent research confirms that the right visuals can foster healing in healthcare spaces. That's the science behind Evidence Based Design, or EBD. Certain imagery such as serene scenes from nature can have a measurable, desirable impact on clinical outcomes. Your partner should understand EBD and know how to use those principles in designing an effective space.
Last year, Takeform partnered with San Francisco-based Dignity Health as the health system underwent a major built environment renovation which incorporated their "Hello humankindness" vision throughout patient and staff spaces. We were thrilled to dig in with the Dignity Health team on the exciting challenges to make their vision a reality. The project is a perfect illustration of how effective strategic thinking can be.
For example, several of their interior spaces had large glass partitions that provided beneficial ambient light but limited privacy in areas where it was required. Strategic thinking solved the privacy issue without sacrificing desirable ambient light...all while creating a more enriching patient experience. Using translucent materials which provide both privacy and ambient light, we designed a solution that supported a natural healing environment. Strategic thinking provided benefits at several levels – patient experience, usability, and brand. The more the client saw the impact of such a solution, the more value they realized, the more such solutions expanded throughout the facility and the system.
A rebrand is a major undertaking for a health system or a single hospital site. It's worth bringing in a qualified partner sooner rather than later. The right team, with fully integrated capabilities, will be there every step of the way, to help you maximize the investment you're making in your larger branding effort—and help you address surprising challenges that often arise.