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Making a Case for Rebranding The Rebranding of a Brander Healthcare advertising agencies, among their many strategic and creative services, excel at branding or rebranding pharmaceutical products, devices, diagnostics, and corporate identities for their clients. Harder to do is to apply those same skills to themselves. When CommonHealth made the bold move to redefine its image within the industry, it called upon Enterprise IG, which has strong capabilities and a rich heritage in global corporate and consumer branding, to help create a new look and focused mission: “Collaborative Velocity.” “It’s very hard for companies to undergo a rebranding process for themselves; too often people can’t see the forest for the trees,” says Scott Lerman, CEO and president of Enterprise IG, Americas. “Having a third party helps a company look objectively at where it’s been and where it’s headed. Examining what is relevant and having a focused guide through the process is important whether a company is a branding company or a beverage company.” CommonHealth’s brand history as a pharmaceutical and healthcare advertising agency extends back 12 years when Thomas Ferguson Associates merged with Health Learning Systems. Today, CommonHealth consists of more than 600 full-time employees, 12 different operating companies, eight marketing communications disciplines, five different buildings, four different towns/cities, a full-range of capabilities and credentials, and essentially one homogeneous client base. But, according to Matt Giegerich, CEO of CommonHealth, the company had been operating under a cacophony of identities. From an outsider’s view, it could appear that its operating companies shared little more than a loose association with a somewhat outdated logo and a mission statement that didn’t fully convey the company’s core positioning as “driven, inspired, and collaborative.” CommonHealth’s companies include: ProCom International, The Quantum Group, Health Learning Systems, EinsonHealth, MD/Salud, MBS/Vox, Noesis Healthcare Interactions, Thomas Ferguson, The Conectics Group, Adient, The Xchange Group, Enterprise IG Health, Shire Health New York, Qi Interactive, Solara, CH Global Network, and ex-U.S. operations, CommonHealth Europe, CommonHealth Australia, and CommonHealth Kyowa. “The marketplace never truly grasped the concept of CommonHealth,” Mr. Giegerich says. “The name was deliberately subordinated because of the equity of the individual agency brands. All the agencies shared in CommonHealth’s centralized resources, including senior-most management, finance, human resources, IT and corporate communications, media, market research, business development and medical strategy. But the agencies were not tightly bound in terms of clients’ purchasing decisions. Because volume contracting is impacting the entire industry, it’s become increasingly important that we be identified as a WPP Company. The table stakes have changed; there has to be volume efficiency for clients.” Since becoming CommonHealth, the network of agencies has had significant incremental revenue growth and success by maintaining a persistent focus on client needs, a diversification of services and client/brand base, a stability and continuity of talent, organic spin-offs, and, more recently, an intense focus on new business development. a value-based business model According to Mr. Giegerich, client pressures, including a quest for innovation, patent expirations, pricing pressures, election year intensity, Medicare/Medicaid issues, drug re-importation, whistle blowers, and increasing FDA and OIG scrutiny, have become the agency’s pressures. All agencies now have to contend with consolidation among pharmaceutical companies, increased interaction with procurement departments, cost cutting, volume contracting, and compliance officers. “To meet today’s business challenges, a more coordinated approach is critical to future success,” he says. “We have to find ways to better leverage our talent and resources against marketplace opportunities. Additional services should be consolidated at the center; speed and efficiency are now a mandate, and our identity needs to be more cohesive and competitive.” According to Mr. Giegerich, the potential benefits of a strong CommonHealth brand, such as integration of resources, a one-stop shop (cost benefits and ease of shared services), a scale/bench strength, trust and credibility, the ability to attract talent, a depth and breadth of visible capabilities, a balanced strategic and creative focus, and extending individual agencies into new media, therapeutic categories, and audiences, all had to be carefully weighed against potential risks of being viewed as a big healthcare communications corporation that could be considered less creative because the structure might suppress the originality of individual agencies. “We had to consider whether there would be competitive conflicts in a small marketplace,” he says. “Also, would clients believe our organization was bureaucratic and sluggish and the management team stretched too thin? Would we be able to deliver on full integration? Would there be less personal attention, particularly for smaller brands/companies?” A Journey of Discovery Enterprise IG, together with a 12-person CommonHealth task force, explored a new direction for the company through multiple, iterative workshops and presentations over a five-month period to define the company’s brand promise, and evaluated a centralized versus decentralized model. “We decided that a one-company model wouldn’t work for obvious reasons, such as conflicts,” Mr. Giegerich says. “And we didn’t want bureaucracy to overwhelm entrepreneurialism, which has been the hallmark of our organic growth. The end result is a value-based model that’s more the same than different — a cohesive and dynamic identity system for CommonHealth. This allows us to deploy one focused, talented group to overcome the inevitable market ebbs and flows.” To develop a brand strategy that best positions CommonHealth and its businesses to drive customer choice and loyalty, the objective was to uncover the “Compelling Truth” that defines CommonHealth; gauge the benefits and risks of a more visible CommonHealth brand; and explore the implications for identity, behavior, and communications of a new brand strategy. Using Enterprise IG’s model that helps companies define the business-to-business decision-making process, CommonHealth wanted to move from “brand awareness” to a CommonHealth brand that can potentially help drive consideration and choice for its businesses. “Our expertise is in looking at complex issues involved with brand strategy,” Mr. Lerman says. “We work with companies that are very accomplished and that have had rapid growth, but often don’t know how the parts relate to the whole. Our tools and methodologies can be applied to unraveling and reconstructing complex brand situations. Healthcare marketing and communications are very focused on a particular product and that’s very different from an overall brand strategy.” Using Enterprise IG’s model, the brand promise was determined by identifying CommonHealth’s business description, positioning strategy, and personality. The net effect was a brand promise that, “CommonHealth creates powerful competitive advantage for healthcare brands by bringing together a massively responsive team of talented people — all aligned on your behalf. Collaborating with you and for you. Accelerating your entry into the market through inspiring marketing communications. Creating brands that grow beyond competitors.” Mr. Lerman says one of the things that often happens in the rebranding or repositioning process is that those involved feel as though they are taken on a journey but at the end only have a good slogan or a good flag to wave and are left with an identity that doesn’t necessarily reflect the core ideals of the organization. “Our process is designed to find out what’s true about an organization, what is true about its culture, what type of assets it has to bring to clients or customers and to determine those things that are real, what is compelling to the marketplace and what is actually relevant to customers and clients,” he says. “Our process is designed to get at those potential ideas that can come out of the organization that make it truly differentiated. CommonHealth didn’t want a silver bullet or just a theme. The executive group really wanted to understand what the company was, what it stood for, and what it was able to do like no other company.” Enterprise IG’s positioning spectrum is a disciplined evaluation of a company’s assets ranging from the tangible — facilities, capital strengths, and number of people — to the intangible — reputation, approaches, and process. “We worked with the management team to understand which of CommonHealth’s attributes, across those tangible and intangible assets, best drive choice in their customer base,” Mr. Lerman says. “CommonHealth already has a great name. In this process, we wanted to build on the brand and reputation that exists to help highlight and focus attention on those aspects of the company that really have meaning for clients and that have meaning for employees so they can feel as though they are part of a company that inspires them.” According to Mr. Giegerich, CommonHealth’s greatest areas of opportunity and differentiation were represented more in the intangible areas. “All agencies have basic infrastructures in terms of IT and other internal capabilities and can provide more or less a wide range of products and services,” he says. “We wanted to focus on what we determined were our strengths in terms of approach and process: we’re organically grown, people focused, and and highly collaborative. And we focused on who we are. Our people are exceptionally creative and smart; we have more Ph.D.s and M.D.s than most other agencies. We have a great track record in terms of tenure of senior management. We have a collaborative group of hard-working, proven managers.” During the evaluation process, Mr. Lerman says, everything was on the table, including the company’s name. “For the process to be successful, there has to be total honesty and a real commitment to defining the ‘Compelling Truths’ that drive the company and its services,” he says. “By learning what inspires people inside and outside of the company, a cohesive and dynamic identity system for CommonHealth was developed. These learnings are being used as a benchmark to gauge all activities, behaviors, and symbols.” According to Mr. Giegerich, multiple identity executions were explored, but “Collaborative Velocity” emerged as a clear favorite. “We worked with the CommonHealth team to translate the strategy of the brand promise of Collaborative Velocity into a brand language that all the companies could share,” says Will Ayers, managing director for creative services at Enterprise IG. “The company didn’t have a common language of expression before. The different agencies shared a symbol, but beyond that there was not really much that indicated that they were a family or that they were part of an integrated company.” According to Mr. Ayers, the language defines the visual and verbal style stemming from the strategy, the promise, and the personality attributes that were discovered through the iterative process. “We began with some criteria and words that described their clients’ experiences,” he says. “Based on the personality attributes of ‘driven, inspired and collaborative’ we developed brand language that is bold, simple, and strong; this is language that is very clear in terms of how it conveys or delivers communication, and there also is movement to it.” “We literally asked the task force to evaluate whether the company actually delivers collaborative velocity in the way in which it structures its programs and projects,” Mr. Lerman says. “Then we delved into operational issues to ensure that everything CommonHealth does fits this promise of the brand. So it was a very deep change; the name was on the table, the logo was on the table, the nature of the relationship of the parts of the whole was on the table. But more importantly, the way in which the company does business to deliver the products, services, marketing, and communications expertise was explored.” The result is an identity that conveys collaboration — parts coming together (infinite variations, different but same); velocity (dynamic motion and change); and vibrancy (bold, clear, colorful, and creative). The new identity will affect all internal and external-facing materials, including business cards, business papers, marketing and communications, a new Website, e-mail signatures, PowerPoint presentations, and signs branding its environments. In addition, each CommonHealth operating company name has been simplified to one word. For example, Carbon Healthcare Communications has become Carbon. According to Mr. Lerman, because CommonHealth has an incredibly collaborative culture and puts massive resources behind getting things done for its clients no matter what, clients will simply see a very distinct and, hopefully, insightful view of the services and products that they have been getting all along. “This idea is not something we made up; it’s not some false slogan or idea,” he says. “It really is true about them. Prospective clients will see a much sharper position, which should make it easier for them to understand what working with CommonHealth would be like. “The simplicity and clarity of the ideas that now define CommonHealth are powerful tools for a CEO, and Matt is using them,” Mr. Lerman adds. “He has communicated to the company that this is a new way of doing business, that this is going to define the company going forward, and that it comes from the greatest strengths of the company’s past.” This internal view and internal focus are the most important aspects of any type of brand strategy, Mr. Lerman says. Without buy-in from all the stakeholders, at the end of the process it may be just an empty shell. F PharmaVoice welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s very hard for companies to undergo a rebranding process for themselves; too often people can’t see the forest for the trees. Having a third party helps a company look objectively at where it’s been and where it’s headed. Having a focused guide through the process is important whether a company is a branding company or a beverage company. Scott Lerman CEO and President Enterprise IG, Americas This is more than just a change of logos and identities; this a cultural change for the company to behave in a more coordinated and integrated fashion. We are now a company that is more the same than different. Enterprise IG’s branding Model Enterprise IG’s process is designed to find out what’s true about an organization, what is true about its culture, what type of assets it has to bring to clients or customers and to determine those things that are real, what is compelling to the marketplace and what is actually relevant to customers and clients. The process is designed to delve into those potential ideas that can come out of the organization that make it truly differentiated. Business-to-Business Decision-Making Process Using Enterprise IG’s model, the brand promise is determined by identifying the organization’s business description, positioning strategy, and personality. Performance is the delivery of the promise in the real world. Business Description + Positioning + Personality = Brand Promise Positioning SpectrumTM Enterprise IG’s positioning spectrum is a disciplined evaluation of a company’s assets ranging from the tangible — facilities, capital strengths, number of people — to the intangible — reputation, approaches, and process. Defining Corporate Personality The end result defines the visual and verbal style stemming from the strategy, the promise, and the personality attributes that are discovered through the iterative process. © Enterprise IG, Inc 2004 The end result is a value-based model that is more the same than different — a cohesive and dynamic identity system for CommonHealth. This allows us to deploy one focused, talented group to overcome the inevitable market ebbs and flows. Matt Giegerich CEO CommonHealth After one meeting we had the DNA for the foundation of the new identity. By the next meeting we started to translate that into style, tone, and message. This was a very fast transition. CommonHealth’s executive team was very open and willing to take a hard look at the company. They could even see the irony in having grown so quickly and so well that they had created confusion in the market. In response to market conditions, they had fragmented their identity through the creation and development of new businesses, making it unclear what the relationship of the parts was to the whole.