How To Brand a Health Network Without Spending a Dime on Ads
“Before anything, Rachael Kagan, director of communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, wants you to know that the campaign her department launched is not an advertising campaign. It’s a branding campaign, she insists,” says veteran copywriter and regular SHCM contributor Peter Hochstein.
“It wasn’t about drawing more people or business,” she explains. “I do not and will not have an advertising budget. We are a government health care agency, so we really do believe that this distinction matters.”
“What the San Francisco Department of Public Health has done is worth some attention,” Hochstein says. “It has launched a barrage of communications throughout the city on a tiny budget. The branding campaign required the development of graphic standards, branding language, videos of various lengths, banners on utility poles at 250 locations around the city, posters, brochures, postcards, and promotional patient gifts such as water bottles and tote bags.
“Total cost? Kagan puts it at $270,000. Yes, that includes video production. Yes, that also includes installing the utility pole banners. Yes, that also includes printing. The whole shebang.
“Except for the videos, the campaign appears in several languages in addition to English. Budget limitations permitted only English-language video production. There are no paid media.
The videos appear at various locations on the internet, including the Health Network’s website, and as repeating messages on TV screens in clinics and hospitals that are part of the network. Each video is a message that uses only graphics, ranging from moving type and line drawings to still photographs. There is no voice-over, only a musical soundtrack.”
This shoestring approach has been remarkably effective for the San Francisco Health Network, which was launched by the city’s Department of Public Health in 2014 and serves more than 100,000 people in neighborhood clinics and hospitals in the city.
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