Building a Virgin brand in the healthcare sector
Virgin Care operate more than 400 health and social care services in England and have spent more than a decade helping millions of people get well, live well and be healthy and happy every day. They put people at the heart of everything they do and are passionate about heartfelt service and transforming care for the better; so everyone feels the difference.
Following years of rapid growth and expansion, Virgin Care needed a purpose and values driven brand that reflected its ambitions and distinguish them from the rest. While people may be going to a hospital or GP for the most serious reasons, it shouldn't mean you can’t use creative intelligently and have fun with it - to brighten up what might be a difficult time.
Approaching the healthcare industry with a brand-first mindset meant entering mainly untested waters but being a Virgin brand means doing things differently - and changing business for good.
A brand strategy centred around your purpose
Three brand pillars was developed to help create a cohesive identity and brand foundation that represents who we are and how we behave in the world in an authentic and engaging way. When purpose, values and pillars all fit together, you are able to deliver first class experience, creative and content:
Bringing personality and positive feeling to the Virgin Care brand
It was clear from the get go that they needed a complete redesign - the overuse of stock imagery and overly formal language that doesn’t evoke any feelings or spark any interest meant that both its words and its visuals lagged behind.
My aim was to create a visual identity that will bring the local and corporate stories to life, and create a sense of visual consistency that is fun, informative and in a way that lived the values of the Virgin Care brand.
Maintaining only the logo, all previous collateral and designs were thrown out and I did a complete redesign of the brand across all touchpoints, to achieve a clearer and more distinctive brand expression.
The first thing that had to go was stock imagery. All existing materials was branded using generic stock imagery and real life images of strangers wasn't helping build relationships with patients and you find yourself struggle to find the right images to go with your content. In an industry where a vast quantity of information and important, often difficult topics needed to be covered, the visual expression needed to be clear, concise and engaging - I felt illustrations would help create a brand experience that’s caring, smart and simple and bring a sense of charm and optimism to the identity.
Something to smile about
Custom made illustrations was developed to inject personality and emotion into the brand. Using this brand starting-point, I started building various elements that would later make up what is the world of Virgin Care - landscapes with the various locations where they operate, characters that represents colleagues, the work they do and their everyday journey with them.
All creative encourage discovery - being a healthcare company, medical items and equipment are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give the design a twist by applying them to everyday items. Shown here is a way of communicating that junk food increases the risk of obesity, a plaster turned into a skateboard for use in the children services creative and a pill bottle turned into a postbox used in the medical cityscapes. Look closer and be delighted with the unexpected, it will no doubt bring a smile to your face.
Your people are your core assets...
…. and they’re on a journey. Core assets like the nurse and doctor, who represent the workforce of Virgin Care, is always featured prominently. No matter where they are, treating customers, leading colleagues, or making sure your font size is right - the creative is centered around them and the journey they’re on.
The redesigned Virgin Care is vibrant, friendly and contributed to a playful style, and each element of the identity was consistent in what they wanted to say and how they were saying it. The new identity is easily manageable and adaptable, change the background or surroundings and the nurse will go from their job in the reception to annual leave in a tropical island - there's no limit to what the people in the Virgin Care world could do.
The journey doesn’t stop there, your brand starts with your people, and to make it accessible to all the different stakeholders across the organisation, you need to inspire and enable your workforce to be your best brand ambassadors, and it starts with the very basics - check out how, here.