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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
February 12, 2011

Currently healthcare organizations have entered into the perfect portfolio storm. We have some big ones on the horizon, ICD10, Achieving the HITECH Stimulus, Assuring the infrastructure is up to date to run the HITECH Stimulus, and several growth and community initiatives within the health system. As a result, we have a lot of opportunities to take executive and operational focus away from your program. We all know programs without focus have untold wealth in resource constraints, funding constraints, and missing desired business objectives.

While adversity is a wonderful teacher, it is time to highlight on your program so it can SHINE!

How do you rise above the wave of projects and programs in the portfolio? How do you assure your program isn't lost in the crowd? It is time to take that step forward away from the crowd and branding the program is a great starting step.

Why should I brand my program?

We, program managers, have a lot on our plates, and the idea of developing a quick catchy name or an elevator pitch for your program may seem like a waste of time. Consider a moment things a little bit deeper, branding is about creating an identity for your program which can inspire team members and stakeholders. As soon as someone sees the logo or name, they instantly associate your branded catch phrase. If it something to inspire in a very tangible way, all the better. Imagine for a moment, you are in a leadership position reviewing a program update. In your organization there are several key cultural issues, and the lack of funding is generally a problem. What is the first item that enters your head when you hear One Team, One Mission? Now how about the Email Services Consolidation Effort? Just for a second, your first thought might have been positive and enlightening - a good starting place. Additionally the communication is now associated with your program.

Another benefit of branding is the team building opportunity. A brand should not be created in a vacuum, it should be something the team derives and owns. Quite often in projects, it is the first time a team begins to work together. As the team develops from forming to performing, how about engaging in a branding exercise while in the forming stage. After all the storming phase is the phase when everyone is feeling each other out, Having a discussion on branding and developing a brand is a good way to set the stage for dealing with conflict in a good respectful way and to have the team work towards a common goal delving into the details of the importance of the program. The resulting branding effort will help the team have their first true sense of ownership and empowerment on the program, plus distinguish it from the plethora of other communications.

From the outsiders or stakeholders window view into the program, a brand is a quick way to identify program related information. It is a simple way to relate the communication to the program, and help to keep the program on the stakeholder's radar screen. Now the next step is getting the stakeholders to care about the program.

What does your brand stand for?

So how do you have your brand trigger connections with the motivational values of your colleagues and stakeholders? Illustrate the benefits and business outcomes which will come from your program. By tying back to the share vision of the program, colleagues will want to be affiliated with the program's potential success. To assure the association, you and your team need to clear and consistent illuminating the benefits the program will deliver. Overall this helps to keep everyone on the same page and driving towards receiving these benefits. Here is an excellent place to lead by example, so assure you are walking and talking what your preaching. Additionally it will be helpful for the program leadership team to have the same talking points. Taking an hour and crafting talking points will be well worth the effort.

The Take Away

Branding your program is a way to share the vision of the program, distinguishes all program communications, and associates the program with core values of the organization. Its always to show what the program is about and what the team is accomplishing. Branding will be the first step to help achieving the focus of the organization on your program.

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