CMO on the journey to ‘One Ascension’ and a national brand

St. John Providence Hospital
St. John Providence Hospital, one of the first to take on the Ascension brand name.

Ascension’s ambitious strategy to rebrand and rename all its hospitals across 24 states and the District of Columbia is just in the beginning stages. But the goal--to make the Ascension name nationally known--will be worth it no matter how long it takes, says the system's chief marketing officer. 

Ascension logo

The rebranding strategy rolled out in September beginning with the non-profit health system’s two largest markets, Michigan and Wisconsin. The marketing campaign features television ads, direct mail and online marketing.

Although the health system is one of the largest in the nation--and the world's largest Catholic health system--most of its hospitals operated independently from one another. Until now, Nick Ragone, senior vice president and chief marketing and communication officer tells Medical Marketing & Media

Nick Ragone
Nick Ragone

"We realized it was wildly inefficient," he notes. "If our health system in Texas wanted to do a campaign on primary care, it would hire its own agency and do its own research and media buying. Then if another market wanted to do a similar campaign, it would do everything on its own as well," Ragone told the publication.

As part of the plan, Ragone oversaw the integration of a national marcomm division and a shared services model. The new structure allows different markets to share marketing campaigns and pull together nationwide analytics, according to the article.

The other part of the strategy involves the renaming piece. By the time all its hospitals and health centers sport their new Ascension names, Ragone hopes it will raise the organization’s national profile and patients will understand the facility operates under the “One Ascension” brand. But this will take time. He estimates it takes 18 months to rebrand each state’s hospital system.

"Most people don't know we deliver almost as many babies as any system in the world; we do as many complex heart cases as any in the world; and we do as much oncology,” he tells the publication. “But it's all under different brands."

Here's a look at a television spot running in Michigan.