In July 2015, David R. Perry was named chief marketing officer for University of Utah Health Sciences and was charged with creating a comprehensive strategy for further developing and growing the reputation of University of Utah Health Care and Health Sciences. The two separate names have caused some confusion over the years, so the new strategy involves consolidating them into one brand—University of Utah Health (U of U Health, for short). Today, more than a year and a half later, the campaign is going public. Perry came to the U with more than 25 years of marketing experience at institutions ranging from Bentley University and Seattle Children’s Hospital to Microsoft to The Quaker Oats Company. But his interest in health care is rooted in personal experience. “In 2002, our youngest son was born with a cleft lip that required craniofacial surgery. Six months later, our oldest son was diagnosed with autism,” he says. “So health care became a major part of our lives and has been a primary focus ever since.” Perry finds the U’s leadership in genetics and commitment to value-driven outcomes intriguing, but he is most enthusiastic about the U’s potential to become a national health care innovator and leader. What follows is some insight into Perry’s thinking and approach to the rebrand.
Why did the two areas—University of Utah Health Care and Health Sciences—decide to consolidate names and logos?
It is all about integration—integrating the clinical, research, and education domains of our institution to deliver greater value to patients and other key stakeholders. The change reflects the need to communicate the full spectrum of what we provide from wellness to cancer care. “Health” reflects the full breadth of our services. Simplifying our name from health sciences and health care to “health” is more patient-focused than “us-focused” and more accurately reflects our end goal in all that we do. The theme of our brand campaign is “One You,” which we hope resonates with the individuals we serve every day.
Is anything changing organizationally with these two entities, or is this just a consolidation of marketing efforts?
Our rebranding efforts are not the tail wagging the dog but rather the brand catching up to the incredible momentum and progress we’ve seen over the past five to 10 years. Breaking down silos, collaborating, and integrating our efforts has been a key area of focus. We’re training students to work in interdisciplinary teams to both care for patients and invent new medical devices. We’re colocating researchers from multiple departments to focus on such diseases as diabetes and heart failure. We're working on steps to improve areas like billing processes that streamline the experience for patients. Frankly, as an academic medical center, we’re already fairly far along in areas of collaboration compared to many of our peer institutions.
What drove the timing of the rebrand? Why now?
Much of the impetus behind a new brand relates to the growth of our institution, including the recruitment of new clinical and research leaders since the arrival of Dr. Vivian Lee, CEO of U of U Health. In my mind, it is the perfect opportunity to rebrand. Nationally, health care is undergoing tremendous changes, and we are taking a leadership role in that transformation. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the country is really looking to Utah for solutions. So it’s critical that our brand reflect our forward thinking and our focus on health.
What are the main goals of the rebrand?
We want to leverage the brand to accomplish three key goals: increase awareness, change perception, and drive consideration. Awareness involves letting people know— locally and nationally—all of the fantastic things we’re doing to improve quality in our clinical practice, our groundbreaking research, and how we’re recruiting the best and brightest. Changing perception includes informing audiences that we’re not only a critical care facility for life-threatening situations but also a leader in primary care, wellness programs, and women’s health. Finally, driving consideration involves moving audiences to take action—influencing potential patients to make an appointment or a community physician to refer a patient to our facilities or a new recruit to join our team.
What is the symbolism behind the new design of the logo?
The University of Utah is a fantastic institution, and we felt it was important that our new logo reflect that our health programs are an integral part of the U instead of a separate entity. So we adopted the “block U” logo to show that alignment and also to leverage the equity in the U’s master brand. What I’ve noticed is that there is so much pride in the University of Utah, and I think this new logo with the block U will tap into that strong community feeling. I also think it will tap into the tremendous pride we have in Utah as a state. The DNA helix featured inside the block U denotes our specific role in health and science and recognizes our role as a leader in genetics. Importantly, it also highlights our commitment to treat each patient, student, faculty, and staff member as a unique individual.
When and where will the public notice a change?
There was limited exposure to the new brand during the Sundance Film Festival in January, but the major public debut is in March via different forms of advertising and outreach. The initial stage of the launch will take about a year, but some elements will extend through another 12 months including updating of signage.
What interests you most about this project and your participation with it?
I’ve stated throughout the rollout of this project that the brand needs to catch up with this dynamic institution. University of Utah Health is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. We are ranked #1 in quality among our peers and are emerging as a leading NIH-funded research institution. We now have 12 community clinics, nine urgent care centers, and 18 affiliate hospital partners throughout the Mountain West region. This growth and level of expertise and service to the community needs to be communicated and amplified. Finally, working with my talented team and the U of U Health leadership here has exceeded my expectations and been very rewarding!
How do you think the rebrand will be perceived from the consumer’s perspective?
That is a great question. Based on our research with consumers and patients, we know that they view the university’s health system as progressive and a step ahead when it comes to patient care and research. I believe the new brand will be consistent with their perception of us. Our new strategy is to inform and update the community about what makes U of U Health unique and where we are adding value, from breakthrough research to world-class education to improving the convenience of urgent care centers. Above all, we want to celebrate the unique community we serve and the people in it.