An Industry Outsider Takes a Fresh Approach to Updating a Venerable Health System’s Brand Identity
View from the C-Suite: Heather Geisler, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Communications and Experience Officer, Henry Ford Health
A strong brand acts as a unifying force to express the shared values of an organization.
// By Jane Weber Brubaker //
When Heather Geisler joined Henry Ford Health two years ago as executive vice president and chief marketing communications and experience officer, she went from hurricane season in one industry — hospitality — to hurricane season in another — health care. But there comes a time in a career when you have to — or choose to — listen to your heart.
After parting ways with Hyatt Hotels Corporation at the peak of the pandemic, she explains, “It was an opportunity for me to really think about what matters to me. And what I came back to time and time again was, I want to work for organizations [that] truly do make a difference in the lives of those that they serve.”
The move to health care wasn’t as much of an about-face as it seems. It aligns closely with her stated passion: leveraging brands, key issues, and values-based campaigns to rebuild and activate communities around social issues.
Geisler started out in politics, working for a member of Congress. “I learned a lot about what it means to build constituencies and share messages and build community around key issues,” she says.
From there, she went on to work for ad agencies in Washington, D.C. and New York. “A lot of the work that I did was around social issues and building social movements,” she shares. Among these initiatives were the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, No Kid Hungry, Pfizer’s Get Old campaign, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.
Her next move was to the client side. She held senior executive positions with MSNBC, where she ran brand marketing, and Hyatt Hotels Corporation, departing as senior vice president of global brands.
Geisler brought quite an arsenal of experience to the then 105-year-old health care organization, which, at the time she joined in August 2020, was still called Henry Ford Health System.
Read on to learn how a brand expert was able to lead a diverse team in co-creating and articulating a powerful brand promise built on a legacy of excellence and innovation — and bringing it to life.