In the late 1990s SLHI engaged a “perceptual management” firm and underwent a “branding” exercise to address the perception that we were still associated with the St. Luke’s hospitals, which we sold in 1995 to a for-profit company. In terms of organizational development, this exercise turned out to be transformative, and compelled us to attend to core issues of mission, strategies and messages in ways that traditional strategic planning may not always capture.
Over ten years later, we continue to refine our brand and use its historical, expressive and functional dimensions as screens through which we view every facet of our work: Perceptual management and focus on communications are integral to addressing complex issues like health care reform and community building, and go way beyond traditional notions of branding as facile marketing campaigns. They are part of the very fabric of social change itself. If we are serious about improving the health of individuals and communities, we have to become adept at understanding and manipulating the perceptual space around us.
We don’t have to become our tools – we just need to learn how to use them effectively. Investigate how to apply the concept and techniques of branding in your own organization and life. You may be surprised at the possibilities.