Building a Hospice of the Chesapeake Brand for the Future

Brand awareness is a valuable thing. But what happens if the organization outgrows the brand it’s used to create that awareness? And what if the awareness is built on an industry term that is scary for consumers? And what if the brand is going to keep changing and expanding but the name has to stay the same? These were the challenges we faced with a brand and communications audit for Hospice of the Chesapeake. But the answer, as always, is to let the research fuel the strategy!

Challenge 1 – “So much more than hospice”

The nonprofit has been helping Maryland families deal with the journey with illness and loss for over 40 years. But since its inception Hospice of the Chesapeake has become so much more than simply hospice care. In addition to in-home hospice there is a hospice house for in-patient facility care, the Chesapeake Life Center which provides grief support, and a rapidly growing palliative care service. Even with all the growth, a name change was not on the table.

Challenge 2 – “Hospice is a scary word”

Research shows that consumers have an aversion to death and do not want to face the tough reality of planning for it. Hospice care is synonymous with death for most families and therefore the care itself and honest conversations around it, are avoided. Beyond that, the palliative care category is not understood by consumers at all and defined inconsistently even among medical professionals.

Challenge 3 – “A brand that leaves room for growth”

Forward thinking leadership knew that as new opportunities arise, Hospice of the Chesapeake may add addition care services to better serve the community. And aside from the growth in programs, the organization was also on the cusp of geographic expansion with the acquisition of a hospice organization in Charles County. The new brand strategy and execution needed to allow for this expected growth.

Enter the research. Several phases of research addressed both medical professionals involved with referrals and consumers included one on one interviews and surveys. Key insights from the research helped tap into the commonality among both doctors and patients: they wanted someone they could rely on. While doctors and medical staff needed to know that a hospice organization was going to be reliable, consistent and professional in caring for their patients, families needed to know they could trust the organization with the care of a loved one and be confident that they’d be there when needed. This insight fueled the brand strategy from the messaging to the tone that helped create a new family of brands that represents Hospice of the Chesapeake as the professional, caring, reliable team that they are, whether it’s in traditional hospice, palliative care or at the Chesapeake Life Center. While the name hasn’t changed, the brand has evolved to match the amazing things this non-profit is doing for families across Maryland.

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