By LISA EISENHAUER
As it celebrates its 35th anniversary, Benedictine is refreshing its brand with a new name and identity and is dropping "health system" from its name.
Jerry Carley, chief executive of the Duluth, Minnesota-based system, said the idea of rebranding has come up many times over the history of the Benedictine Health System. It wasn't until its leaders were updating its strategic plan about 18 months ago that the idea gained momentum and support.
The leaders zeroed in on identity as one of the plan's focus areas and having "health system" after Benedictine kept popping up as a stumbling point. "We looked at it and said that's not even who we are," Carley recalled.
He said "health system" has become associated with systems that offer acute care, which Benedictine has not provided since the end of 2007 when it spun off from its corporate parent, Essentia Health. What became important to Benedictine's leaders, he said, was to "make sure that new name and identity really portrays who we are as a stand-alone senior care provider of services in five states."
Bold, flexible, familiar
As the system began a months-long process of formulating a rebranding strategy, the leaders had up to 40 names under consideration. "When the dust settled, we ended up with Benedictine because it's true to who we are." Carley said.
"It's a bold statement and it creates a tremendous amount of flexibility with what we can do with it, whether we're talking about our assisted living, our skilled nursing, our transitional care units, our home health, our adult day care. It gives us all kinds of flexibility to co-brand everything around Benedictine."
Along with the new name comes a new logo that features the name and the system's legacy symbol, the circular Benedictine Cross. The system's 33 communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois are being renamed Benedictine Living Communities with a city locator — for example, Benedictine Living Community — Bismarck (North Dakota). For cities with more than one Benedictine site, the system will use legacy names or indicators of the site's service line to differentiate between them.
The system's name goes back to its start in 1985 and honors its sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth. The system has evolved from its early days when it comprised two hospitals, a senior care community and clinical service sites.
Its biggest change came when Benedictine was spun off from Essentia Health, taking its long-term care facilities but leaving eight hospitals. Essentia Health, based in Duluth, includes 15 hospitals, some of which are members of CHA.
Ready for a refresh
Carley became Benedictine's chief executive in 2018. He said he knew right away that a brand refresh was probably in order. "One of the things I brought up, being a relatively new CEO with Benedictine, is, I said, 'Gosh, I sure get a lot of phone calls from people asking me about my emergency room department and we don't have emergency rooms.'"
However, he doesn't take personal credit for the rebranding. He said he and others even tried to stop the process a few times. "We kept thinking 'Is it really the time to do this?'" he recalled. "But the feedback just kept coming, (saying) let's keep heading down this path."
Carley said a soft launch of the rebranding began at the first of the year with the new name and logo starting to show up across the ministry. The process will continue for the rest of the year, as the new name and logo are phased in on signs, business cards and communications.
Legacy of quality care
As with so many things this year, the rebranding process has been somewhat slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dramatic challenges and an organizational focus on preventing the transmission of the virus delayed a planned late spring announcement.
Carley said the rebranding won't affect how the system's 6,000 employees deliver care to its 3,000 residents and patients or its core values of hospitality, stewardship, respect and justice.
"It just more aligns us with who we are, not necessarily that we're going to be changing what we do," he said. "We're still going to be a high-quality provider of Catholic-sponsored senior housing and services in the United States."
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