Your hospital changes its name. Should it advertise that fact? Or spend its ad dollars on something else? Don’t answer until you read this.

January 19, 2021

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinIn some cases, letting your ads ignore the news about a name change can be a smarter move than headlining it. Here’s a case in point.

It all seemed like a brilliant idea back in 1895. Fresh sea air is good for you, right? All that bracing oxygen and salt spray! So why not medically treat some of Boston’s sick children aboard a ship that plied Boston Harbor, the kids inhaling healthy sea air while doctors eyeballed their tonsils, peered into their ears, and treated what needed to be treated?

It was such a good idea at the time that the Floating Hospital for Children pretty quickly traded up to a larger ship. Then one thing led to another and the hospital’s nomenclature got a bit complicated. But let’s not get too tangled in the weeds of history here. Suffice it to say that the hospital merged with Tufts Medical Center. Then the children’s hospital evolved into a landlubber, and the new children’s hospital’s name became a difficult mouthful: The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

And therein lay a problem, according to Laura Pierce, the children’s hospital’s manager of marketing and communications; and Jeanette Palmer, managing director at the hospital’s Boston advertising agency, Nail Communications.

Old Name Hurts Brand Awareness

The current day pediatric hospital, with 115 licensed beds and handling roughly 53,000 clinical visits a year, had a name that was dragging the hospital’s anchor. People got it wrong. Or shorthanded it. Or got an anemic impression of it. Or nearly no impression. All of which contributed to low brand awareness.

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