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Beware – this blog post carries a health warning. It will not affect your own personal health, but it may affect the health service, or maybe the health of the health service. Our warning is to be on your guard for the marvellous mis-guided manager who likes a logo (any logo) just a little too much. Your first indication of this character type is that they might have been on a short course in Publisher several years ago. They’re probably always dreaming up acronyms for new health programmes or projects, forming non-sensical words like BIGWOW, from a succession of words that fail to naturally flow. The third clue is that they use the words ‘brand’ and ‘logo’ inter-changeably as if a brand is simply a logo and vice-versa. Now we love a logo here at Touch Design - our walls are adorned with beautiful, hand-crafted client logos – but we also know how a logo fits into a whole branding proposition and how the logo is just one part of an organisation or campaign’s visual identity.

We’re delighted that our expertise in branding has now been recognised nationally. We’ve worked with many healthcare clients developing their brands and recently our work, in partnership with MIH Solutions, with NHS Erewash Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was shortlisted for the Association of Healthcare Communications & Marketing (AHCM) Awards 2014 in the Best Visual Brand category. This award category celebrates the best of branding in the NHS and it’s a great moment for Touch to be at the awards dinner in Leeds later this month among the best of the best.

Effective branding within the NHS must always confront the issue of brand conformity - respecting the NHS Identity guidelines while striving for organisational autonomy and the need to differentiate. It must generate interest, engender support for the cause (a form of public sector brand loyalty), and it must have relevance and impact. Great branding in the NHS needs to be authentic and convincing. Ideally, in this outcomes and outputs world, it must demonstrate a form of creative ‘payments by results’. We believe the branding of Erewash CCG did all of this – and more.

Erewash’s branding – which has ultimately led to widespread national recognition for one of the smallest CCGs in the country – was jointly handled by us and the Make It Happen (MIH) Solutions consultancy. Our brand project was launched in time for the CCG’s authorisation – helping ensure the organisation’s vision, values and objectives were united in a cohesive and compelling brand proposition. The purpose, aims and objectives of the CCG over the next five years needed to be succinctly wrapped up in the brand and across all channels of communication.

A particular challenge for Erewash was the need to unite the two towns of Ilkeston and Long Eaton, which have tended to feel distinct from each other. The common link was the River Erewash, and we wanted the logo to reflect water and movement – a creative approach which would also be symbolic of the organisational development underway to unite GPs across the area.

Pictures were sourced of real people who use Erewash’s services - as well as those who deliver them. Over two days, we visited various surgeries, hospitals and town centres to carry out photography to ensure the brand imagery resonated with local people and local staff. The subject of the images taken was chosen carefully to reflect each of the seven CCG priorities, so that staff, patients and others would be able to identify clearly at-a-glance with the patient group who would directly benefit from delivering each priority area.

Following on from early discussions with GPs and other clinicians, two major stakeholder events were held, which, between them, consulted with 78 stakeholders - patients, councillors, members of Patient Practice Groups, representatives from Erewash’s health panel and voluntary groups. Informed by public health data, as well as local knowledge and need, these determined the vision and the priorities for Erewash and ultimately the focus for the brand. As a result of these sessions, we developed the focus areas of Better Care, Better Health, Better Value, which would become the strapline for the CCG’s brand.

The concept of Better Care, Better Health, Better Value had to become fundamental to the Erewash approach. We shared various logo and strapline concepts with GPs, patient representatives, partners, MPs and others, and co-produced the brand. Final drafts were sent for discussion and sign-off to the Governing Body and to the lead clinical group, incorporating representatives from each member practice, and the decision to finalise the proposed brand was unanimous.

Our aim for developing the brand was that within four weeks we wanted every member of staff, clinical and admin/managerial, to clearly identify with the CCG mission, values and priorities; so that when asked they would be able to say accurately and succinctly – “I am here to deliver better care, better health and better value for the people of Erewash”.

The brand was aligned to the national NHS Identity guidelines, yet was sufficiently flexible to enable development as the CCG and its plans progressed.

The initial brand portfolio was developed to include posters, credit card ‘concertina’ handouts, a corporate video and event branding. This has recently been extended to include corporate strategy documents, their ‘plan on a page’, the Annual Report and the new Erewash CCG website 

Supported in part by this work, Erewash CCG became the first CCG to be authorised without any conditions placed upon it, with commendations on the clarity of the brand messaging.The brand and messaging is still highly relevant, instantly apparent, and easily recognisable, and continues to be used extensively – it’s everywhere and on everything!

The case study with Erewash CCG shows that a logo is not a brand and a brand is not a logo. They might support and help influence each other but they are not one of the same thing. So beware those who think all you need is a logo (any logo!) and you have the brand or campaign. Beware those also who show you some of their logo sketchings in Publisher. It can only end in tears.

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