Heath Schreiweis

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Re-brand for the People - Staff and Community Engagement when branding a Hospital

The Backround

The Queensland Government's Department of Health is a multibillion dollar departmental behemoth tasked with suppling public healthcare to its community. Servicing a region of 1.8 million square kilometres and 5 million people, the organisation has been split into districts to best manage the area, facilities, staff and the Queensland community. These districts, or 'Hospital and Health Services', are specifically designated regions of the state operating independently to serve the needs of the community within their jurisdiction. The needs of the community in each region differs significantly; from metropolitan city, to rural outback. Each district administers their own budget, answers to their own board of directors who are comprised of appointed figures from the community they serve.The Cairns and

Hinterland Hospital and Health Service is geographically an area which is slightly bigger than England at 140,000 km2, located in the northern area of Queensland (for those locals out there, it services an area from Daintree, to Tully, and as far west as Corydon.) With an annual operating budget of a billion dollars, it operates nine hospitals (Cairns Hospital being the largest) and 20 other forms of healthcare facilities, from community health services to mental health facilities. It services an average 250,000 people, around 5% of the population in an area that geographically, makes up 8% of the state.

The Project

As each Health Service is committed to best representing the area it serves, the districts have taken to developing a visual brand that represents the region, philosophy and values of the community. 

With so much planning in our Health Service including strategic plans, developing a values-based culture and more. The next step was to create a visual brand that both the staff and community could identify with. 

With my experience in branding and design I was asked to develop a brand for the Health Service, that had engagement from the staff and local community, was relevant to the region and used creativity to create a sense of belonging that enables staff and public to identify with the brand.

Being financially responsible, the whole task was to be done in house and with as little as cost as possible, using myself as the designer and engaging the rest of the communications and media team to encourage participation with staff and community.

The rough plan for the project was to:

  1. Conduct a 'discovery' survey to see how people feel about the brand, and what they believe would be useful in a new health service brand. 
  2. Take the results of that survey and design three branding concepts for presentation.
  3. Focus on engagement and feedback of those three design concepts. 
  4. Finalise and sign-off on the design and implement into the health service.

Branding Process

Step 1 - Brand Discover - Initial perceptions and thoughts:

The process began with an online survey that was designed to 'take the temperature' of the staff and community around the brand. What their thoughts on the current brand are, and how they felt it related to the region and life in the far north.

The survey then proceeded to ask how people felt about the health service, holistically this was done by supplying a list of keywords; such as "efficient", "timeless", "passionate" etc, for participants to choose, as well as some scales (from 1-10) on how they felt the current 'brand' of the health service was perceived.

This survey was primarily targeted towards staff and key community consultation members. There were approximately 200 participants in this survey, which is an engagement rate of 3.3% (of staff in the health service). However, the key purpose of this survey was to apply those results in the brand concept phase of the project. 


Step 2 - Brand concept - ideas and exploration

From the results of the survey, I was able to take the feedback and use it when applying to the various concepts.

Some takeaways were:

  • People relate the health service to being Integral, Friendly, Reliable, Comforting and Passionate.
  • Somewhat Bold, Serious, Modern, Professional, Colourful and Economical.
  • There was an overwhelming statement that the current brand is old and in need of a refresh
  • Participants have a strong connection to the blue, green and gold colours that the region represents – and the tropical lifestyle it encourages.
  • the rainforest and the reef are by far the most prominent regional ‘elements’ – followed by farm life, waterfalls and mountains.

We took this feedback and applied some common tactics, such as colour theory and brand styling*, to develop a direction in the brand that would then be refined by the executive, staff and community in the final result.

I then proceeded to develop three main concepts, that incorporated the results of the survey, including colour choice, pattern and iconography.

(* I want to stress this was just our path to success, there are many other, and possibly better processes for brand discovery, but this was what worked for us in our particular situation, and we're happy with the results)


Step 3 - Brand Engagement - the voice of the people.

Once the three concepts where finalised, we then presented them to the wider community to get feedback and allow participants to 'vote' on their preferred option. 

This engagement included:

  • online voting via our engagement portal that was promoted through social media and key community contacts.  
  • a health service 'road trip' going out to the regional hospitals and talking over the brands with the individual staff. 
  • speaking in key meetings, such as our community consultative committees, clinical council, executive briefings, and hospital board briefings - all in the efforts to gather feedback and vote. 

In the end, we were able to get over 1,000 votes on the three concepts and plenty of feedback for suggestions on branded items, tweaking and adjustment of the various concepts.


The final results.

We processed 1,141 votes altogether. Including votes submitted on the online portal, face-to-face sessions/meetings and displays around the Hospital and the results were as follows

  • Concept A Golden Penda (33%)
  • Concept B Boulders (30%)
  • Concept C Rainforest to the reef (37%)

The difference of 98 votes between concept A and C. This tells me the designs to reflect the area, and the people really well. With the majority not feeling strongly about any one particular design - instead all 3 designs reflect the wishes of the community.

As of August 2018, the Health service implemented the brand and is slowly rolling out updated resources and signage, this has been a budget-conscious endeavour, only replacing existing resources with new branding that are out of date or expired.

The Health Service has received welcomed feedback from staff and community, which has strengthened our brand to be something that staff and community alike can be proud of.


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