Many health and human service organizations have been serving their community for many years, and that history is part of their identity. But as the market changes, organizations evolve—it is often a change that takes place slowly, over time, which means its common to find that an organization may transform its services and operations before they consider how to change their perception in the market. But in a competitive environment, consumer awareness and perception of an organization’s brand can differentiate competitors and separate the success stories from the “what could have been” stories.
To learn more about how an organization that has been part of a community for many years can transform its brand, we spoke with Matt Lemmon, Director of Communications at Springfield, Missouri-based Burrell Behavioral Health. Burrell Behavioral Health is a private, non-profit organization that provides a wide range of mental health services for individuals and families, business and industry, and educational programs for community and professional groups. Burrell has 40,000 consumers across 17 counties in Missouri and employs more than 150 clinicians through an integrated network.
In 2017, Burrell launched rebranding efforts to better communicate their mission and purpose to the community, and to reflect the organization’s positioning as an accessible, forward-thinking organization that is focused on helping all consumers with behavioral health needs.
Why did your organization decide to rebrand?
Mr. Lemmon explained that since the inception of Burrell in 1977, the organization had never truly had a brand, adding that “much of the identity Burrell did have did little to overcome the stigma long surrounding behavioral health; a stigma we are committed to helping our clients overcome.” After Dr. C.J. Davis joined as chief executive officer in 2017, Burrell leadership set out to develop a new, more approachable look. Mr. Lemmon said:
Our industry is about relationships, and we wanted to be more welcoming. We want seen as a positive place, and to let people know that receiving Burrell’s services is a HEALTHY thing, just like an annual wellness checkup with a primary care physician. A new look was an important piece in our efforts to reframe the narrative around behavioral health.
Why and how did you choose your new branding?
Burrell engaged Springfield, Missouri-based marketing and web design firm Mostly Serious to develop the new brand standards, logo and website. A top priority in that relationship was making Burrell a more approachable, relatable organization. Mr. Lemmon said, “We wanted our new look and logo to be conversation starters about not only stigma, but accessibility to care.” That access was an important philosophical concept, as Mr. Lemmon further explained:
At Burrell, we firmly believe that access is a concept, not a location. Our three primary referral partners are the medical community, schools and the legal/judicial system, and we wanted to make sure Burrell was perceived as available and forward-thinking as we expanded our mission by cooperating with colleagues in those fields and others. Physically integrating our services with these partners allows us to offer a full continuum of care and bring services to our clients in a relational manner.
Branding as “identity” (versus positioning, see Positioning > Branding > Marketing > Revenue) is the culmination of various images-as-symbols to signal certain things to consumers and customers. Mr. Lemmon explained some of the branding choices Burrell made to provide “an immediate indicator that Burrell is a place where you are welcomed and where care is about relationships and conversations between people.” He explained:
The color palette we landed on is an easy-on-the-eye combination of a soft but vibrant teal and slate blue, with dark gray, bright pink and warm gold as accents. The logo mark is what we’ve quickly come to know as the “Burrell B” with subtle chat bubbles filling in the “holes” of the B. The concept was to evoke “consideration,” and that a logo could subtlety serve as conduit for decreasing stigma while simultaneously encouraging services in a nonthreatening manner.
This works nicely with our tagline, Time to Chat (#Time2Chat in hashtag form) which we use in “lighter-touch” cases, not anywhere that may pertain to a clinical or crisis situation. The Time to Chat tagline allows us to highlight important national statistics such the number of adults suffering from mental health issues not seeking treatment and the long delays for children seeking initial care. The more approachable look allows us the ability to reach younger generations, with the chat bubbles serving as an effort to break down stigma during informative years.
Although our work is serious, we are offering hope and healing to our respective communities. The logo reinforces that encouraging side of service delivery. The logo also serves us well in our efforts to establish Burrell as a leader in the growing community, state and national conversations about behavioral health.
The largest singular piece of the rebranding? The all-new burrellcenter.com, which Mr. Lemmon explained was custom built by Mostly Serious with the intent to rebuild Burrell’s web presence from the ground up. He explained
We reorganized our services structure to be more user-friendly for consumers, integrating a payment portal for consumers and online registration and payment for our frequent professional development events, and beefing up our human resources presence on the site to complement our recruiting efforts. In coming months, we plan to build a 24/7 chat feature that will connect the public directly to our crisis response team, as our findings show that many clients—particularly those in the younger demographic we’re hoping to engage in conversation—are more comfortable seeking help via chat or text as opposed to in-person visits.
Did your re-branding have the impact that you hoped it would?
Burrell has continued phasing in the new branding on the organization’s collateral, like business cards, letterhead, and promotional flyers, with larger efforts like building signage due by mid-2019. Mr. Lemmon said:
We plan a major marketing effort—the first in Burrell’s history—next year in support of the “new Burrell.” With our new brand launch coming just three months ago (Sept. 7) and our website launch just weeks in the past, it’s too early to tell if everything has panned out the way we hoped it would. What we do know is that internal and external feedback has been outstanding, not only in the overall aesthetics of the Burrell brand but the functionality and accessibility of the new website. We expect increased utilization of not only our website but Burrell services in general, along with better awareness and continued growth of Burrell services in our 17-county catchment area.
For more on rebranding in the health and human service market, check out Health & Human Service Rebranding In 2018 – New Market Positioning Mergers & Acquisitions Lead The Trend.