Branding - An Interesting Exercise

‘Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes.’

This is one definition of the term ‘branding’ and when the Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) from the three GP Practices in Lewes were asked to participate in the process of establishing a ‘brand’ for the Hub, we were somewhat at a loss as to what our role would be and what we were being tasked to ‘brand’. However, it soon became clearer that what was referred to as the Lewes Health ‘Hub’ needed a logo and a name that would fulfil all of the above criteria. It would need to be memorable, eye catching and descriptive. By replacing ‘company’ with ‘Hub’ and ‘customers’ with ‘patients’ in the definition above, it began to make more sense.

The three Practices had selected a company, ‘Madison Solutions’ to lead the process of branding and produce a logo and name for the Hub in consultation with staff from the three GP Practices, and with ourselves as patient representatives. A ‘branding committee’ was set up with representatives from each of the GP Practices and one from each of the PPGs. We met over a total of four meetings which entailed a great deal of thinking and discussion. The initial exercise set for staff and the PPGs was to complete a questionnaire devised by Madison Solutions, which asked our opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of the existing surgeries and what brands we felt were effective. Using this information and having had some initial discussion with Dr Heath at St Andrews practice, Madison Solutions showed us successful brands and some of their ideas for a logo.

From his research, Dr Heath, had discovered that the site on which the new building was to be erected, was where the Lewes Foundry had been located. Evidence of its work is still seen all over Lewes particularly the distinctive man hole covers, and it was these that prompted the concept of a circle to represent perfection, inclusion, and within it, many elements working together in harmony. This concept encompassed the themes that were emerging from our discussions and appeared to fulfil the aspirations of the planned merger. Madison Solutions was sent away to devise a logo based on this concept.

A list of suggested names for the Hub had been produced by Madison Solutions and staff from the three Practices as well as ourselves were asked to choose from this list and add any more we felt would be appropriate. From this it was possible to draw up a short-list of three favourites, ‘Lewes Health Centre’, ‘The Foundry’ and ‘Ouse Caring’. As a committee we felt that although the Ouse is a landmark in Lewes, as a word it has other connotations not really suitable for a health centre! The decision was then between the other two and the one favoured after much discussion was ‘The Foundry’, although there were a few reservations as to whether this was indicative of a health establishment. However, the next task was to choose a ‘strap line’ and it was this that would identify it as a centre for health excellence. Once again we were all asked to send in our suggestions or choose from a list supplied by Madison Solutions.

The task of the final meeting of the committee was to choose from a number of designs and short list of strap lines which also involved the colour of the logo. And so our task was completed other than discussion as to where ‘NHS’ would appear.

There will be those who love what has been chosen and those who loath it, but we realise that it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time!