Marketing experts: Clarian will get boost from IU name

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Wednesday's announcement by Clarian Health that it will change its name to Indiana University Health is receiving high marks from some hospital and branding professionals.

The Indianapolis-based hospital system, which has 16 hospitals as far afield as LaPorte, Hartford City and Paoli, can now associate with all its facilities the name of the school that trains the majority of doctors and nurses throughout the state.

“From a branding perspective, it’s a fantastic move on their part,” said Ed Abel, a hospital accountant at Indianapolis-based Blue & Co. If Clarian’s Tipton Hospital all of a sudden has the name “Indiana University” on it, Abel said, “I feel like to the average guy, that seems like an upgrade.”

Changing Clarian’s signage, as well as marketing materials, letterhead and business cards, will be a “multi-million-dollar investment,” spokeswoman Margie Smith-Simmons said.

Expenses will be incurred incrementally throughout the rest of the year and into 2011, she said. Clarian would have spent some of that money anyway on new signage, Smith-Simmons said, because the Clarian name still is not consistently used across the hospital system.

Besides signage, Clarian’s name is on scores of sponsorships across the state. Two of its largest are at Lucas Oil Stadium and at a Indiana State Fairgrounds pavilion. Smith-Simmons said Clarian is uncertain how much it will cost to change the sponsorships.

Jim Walton, president of Indianapolis-based Brand Acceleration, also applauded the move. He said the IU name carries more recognition and trust than the Clarian name did.

He also said it’s smart for Clarian to keep the names of its historic hospitals, such as Methodist, Riley and Ball Memorial. “It carries a lot of weight in the local communities,” he said of a historic hospital name.

Dan Evans, Clarian’s CEO, noted that even such national hospital brands as Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic retained the names on their oldest hospitals. In fact, Evans hopes “Indiana University Health” becomes a national brand that attracts patients for complex procedures for which Clarian is nationally ranked.

Clarian’s newer hospitals, such as Clarian West Medical Center in Avon, would be renamed Indiana University West, or something similar, Evans said.

Such changes will help Clarian reduce the total number of brands—40—under which it currently operates. Evans did not specific how many or which ones would go away. That’s a step in the right direction, Walton said, but not enough for his tastes.

“They’re going to go from really confused to sort of confused,” he said.

The changeover will be implemented in the first quarter of 2011.

— Scott Olson contributed to this report


  • Sadly very little of the money stays here.
    "How much of that investment will go to firms in Indianapolis and Indiana?

    All of it, one hopes."

    Wish that were true. The new ad agency, which handles at this point, only the creative part of the account, is in Chicago. "Clarian Health" are no longer buying creative (a million dollar a year account) from anyone in Indianapolis.

    Huge bummer, of course.
  • It can
    Not sure this is a good move for IU. Having their name explicitly attached to all the hospitals currently with the Clarian name could have unintended negative PR consequences. What happens when a hospital in the system experiences a bad PR situation? The IU name will directly be related to the incident. That's why the drug companies distance the association of their corporate brand from the drug product brand in case of a negative incident.

    IU needs to rethink this potential PR nightmare.
  • Unsure
    So how does this improve quality or access, reduce costs or improve patient care? If all you have to do is change signs, then cool.

    Mr Evans do you really attract patients for complex procedures or do you attract doctors who can do those procedures or doctors who trust your doctors to do those procedures?

    If the doctors dont already know, I dont think changing names will help.
  • Clarian will get boost
    "Changing Clarianâ??s signage . . . will be a 'multi-million-dollar investment,' . . ."

    How much of that investment will go to firms in Indianapolis and Indiana?

    All of it, one hopes.
    • privatization?
      excuse me for not being a believer, but it seems to me that i.u. just sold its identity to a lesser organization, a richer one perhaps, but nonetheless simply a large, private multihospital chain, no better or no worse than many others across the country. i see this as a sell-out by the med school, in exchange for what i am not sure. perhaps the med school needs large capital inflows from the rich private sector as state revenues dry up in a poor economy. putting its name on a bunch of average small community hospitals that will be propped up by the indianapolis giant is one way to share in their revenues. i hope the ibj and others will follow up and dig for details on this deal.
    • The Emperor Still has no clothes!
      Branding can work against you as well. To be associated with the State's only current medical school has it drawbacks. IU has not delivered to our State the number of physicians to deliver adequate health care. From an academic and research perspective, IU is not even on the same tier as other medical school even in our surrounding states. Our State deserves better. More branding of the IU name just helps IU and could be detrimental to overall economic development of State's life sciences initiatives. Even for local consumption, a "IU-ARNETT HOSPITAL" will probably not be appreciated by the Lafayette/Purdue community.

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