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Playing the Name Game

Doug Desjardins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 23, 2011

What’s in a name? For the newly branded Wake Forest Baptist Health, it’s worth launching a $3.5 million rebranding campaign to promote its new name and logo.

While the hospitals and research centers associated with the famous university will retain their individual names, the rebranding will place them all under the umbrella of Wake Forest Baptist Health and its new logo which features a strand of DNA next to the name.

“We think it hits the mark perfectly in terms of communicating our single mission of improving health,” said John McConnell, MD, the hospital system’s chief executive who is leading the rebranding effort. “This makes it crystal clear that all our programs are strongly linked back to the research and educational excellence of Wake Forest.”

McConnell said the idea was to create “a unified brand that reflects our vision as well as our mission.” The basic name will be incorporated into the names of individual facilities such as its Brenner Children’s Hospitals, which will now be known as Wake Forest Baptist Health – Brenner Children’s Hospital.

The unified approach will give the dozens of facilities associated with Wake Forest a common identity. “We had 25 different logos in all, so it’s good to have everything integrated,” said Wake University spokesperson Paula Faria.

Over the next two to three years, the university will spend $3.5 million to spread the new name and logo around the Winston-Salem, N.C. region, installing its new name on billboards, hospital vehicles and other things that bear the old Wake Forest health system name.

The move is a departure from current trends in hospital marketing, which tend to downplay religious associations. “Obviously, the regional connection with Baptist was so strong they didn’t want to risk alienating residents,” said George Sopko of Stanton Public Relations and Marketing in an interview with Winston-Salem Journal. “Baptist also speaks to a feeling of faith and caring that you can’t discount.”

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