The transition from Primary Care Trusts to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in 2013 presented many challenges, not least of all creating a new identity. How did these new organisations wish to be perceived by patients and the public? How would they communicate their objectives and values in a clear, concise and accessible manner?
Two years on, raising awareness of CCGs and the role they play in the local health economy still presents its own unique set of challenges. As a Commissioning Support Unit (CSU), we have had to adapt to meet these challenges. Part of this has involved creating a robust brand development process, one which encourages the client to consider their identity from all angles – whether it be a member of the public, staff or a GP.
So, what makes for a strong brand in such a changeable landscape as the NHS? All the general rules still apply – however the challenge lays in the fact that, in many ways, people have far greater expectations of their beloved National Health Service (and by extension CCGs) than they do of the average private sector brand. It’s about so much more than technology, convenience or lifestyle – it’s about values, essence, ethics and personality; fundamentals that are, arguably, harder to define without a conventional marketing angle.
Holding the purse strings of the local health economy, commissioners carry a heavy weight of responsibility. When it comes to values, perhaps unsurprisingly, top of the list are openness, honesty and integrity. The public and patients rightly need to believe that their money is being spent diligently and with their best interests in mind.
Next on the list is a sense of inclusiveness – engagement is a key mantra for every CCG. How do you appear modern, open and approachable? Even subtle considerations such as font can make a big difference in perception.
As well as gauging external perception, it is important to build a ‘top down’ view of the organisation to really understand its DNA. From there, we can start to build the layers that will eventually form the brand, from colour palette to graphic elements and beyond. There are no set guidelines on how long this process should take, but it is not something to be rushed – the NHS is something that people hold close to their hearts, and carries with it a weighty heritage.
South East CSU’s Creative and Digital team have created unique brand identities for a range of NHS clients – view our portfolio to find out more. Nigel leads the Creative and Digital team for South East CSU, check out his biography.