Core Exchange: Managing A Name Change

Two women coworkers looking at sticky notes

Practical advice from an experienced healthcare marketer

Learn about potential challenges and solutions around changing the name of an organization. This is part 1 of Core Creative’s conversation with Janet Schulz, Chief Operating Officer at ORP Management.

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below. Be sure to subscribe to Core Exchange on iTunes.

  • Core Exchange | Managing A Name Change

Episode Transcript:

Stephanie: Hello. I'm Stephanie Burton, Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. At Core Creative, we stay current by pursuing information directly from those driving change in innovation in their markets. It helps us learn how businesses finding new solutions for healthcare consumers and that helps sharpen our perspective when we serve our clients. This is the Core Exchange with Janet Shultz, Chief Operating Officer of Long Term Services and Supports at ORP Management. Welcome Janet. It's great to have you here.

Janet Schulz: Thanks Stephanie. It's great to be here.

Stephanie: Yes. One of the reasons that we brought you into the studio today is that we get to work with you on a daily basis, now in your current role. That's exciting. You have a long history in healthcare. I'm just hoping you can tell us a little bit about your past.

Janet Schulz: Sure. I've grown up in healthcare. I mean, from the time I graduated from Marquette University, my undergraduate degree was News Editorial Journalism. Actually, wanted to be a medical reporter. Ended up at the Medical College of Wisconsin, then Sacred Heart Rehab Hospital for five years. That was a specialty hospital within the healthcare spectrum. And then, ultimately went to, for 24 years, to what was then Waukesha Hospital System. The system that eventually became pro healthcare and had a variety of roles there, including the first 12 years of my career overall, were in healthcare marketing and public relations.

Stephanie: Fantastic. You ended your time at Pro Healthcare with a really big role.

Janet Schulz: Yes. When I left Pro Healthcare, I had the title of Chief Administrative Officer. Then, I went from there, to serve as a consultant in the patient experience space for five years; worked with Kristin Baird.

Stephanie: Yes.

Janet Schulz: I believe she's been in another one of your podcasts. A great patient experience firm. Now, I am Chief Operating Officer at ORP. We are a human services company, that provides services for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Stephanie: Fantastic. I know that at least twice in your career, you have had to go through the name change with an organization. First, when you were with Pro Healthcare and now with ORP Management. I know that you've learned a lot. You've shared a lot of your experiences, which I think have been helpful for the colleagues that you're working with now. Tell us what that was like, what the environment was like at Pro Healthcare, when you decided to change the name, things that you learned. Enlighten us.

Janet Schulz: Well, I can talk to you a bit from my perspective of my experience at Pro Health, when they went through that phase. It was a name change of necessity, as the organization had grown, and ultimately what was then Waukesha Hospital System, added Waukesha Memorial Hospital to its suite of hospital settings. It called for a new name. That was what prompted Pro Health to look for a name, and do all the kinds of things that more recently in my second naming journey, I've been going through it with Core in terms of saying, "Who are we? What do we want to represent, the communities we serve? What do we want the name to say about us and inspire in others."

Again, from my experience at Pro Health, we talked a lot about what kinds of systems were we putting in place, for people who really feel that we would be the healthcare provider, that would be there for them, in times of need, and in times of trying to be well. That's how the name, Pro Health emerged. As we've been going through the naming process now, at ORP, where we're seeking to rename our CEO, Jim Balestrieri has said, "When I first saw a billboard that said Pro Health, I thought, oh my God. They nailed it. I want my Pro Health for ORP." He wanted a name that inspired the same kind of reaction in terms of fit.

Stephanie: Sure. That's great. I love to hear you say, inspire. I think that right now, when we look at the healthcare marketing landscape, the naming landscape, I don't know that it's as inspired as Pro Health was. It's kind of that question, what's in a name? Why was it important to pursue a name that was inspiring when you could have just said, "We are Waukesha Health System," or "Waukesha County Health System." Would have been so easy.

Janet Schulz: Well, We can talk about it in the context of then and now.

Stephanie: Sure.

Janet Schulz: I think it applies as much today as it did back then. That is differentiation. As healthcare marketers, whether it was the 90s, or now, almost to 2020, a name is another element of differentiating yourself in the marketplace.

That's why it's good to take the time to be thoughtful and intentional about a name. I know, I've done a lot of self reflection as we've been going through the naming process at ORP. I can tell you that, naming processes in the two experiences I've had, bring a lot of emotion to it. People get very invested in their positions and perspectives on a name. I must just be older and wiser now.

As we've been going through the naming process at ORP, there were some root names that, one in particular, that I got very attached to, I thought, thrive first would be a great name for ORP to consider. Indeed, it is and was a good name for us to consider. Back in my younger days, I think I might have dug in my heels. Now, the other thing I've learned about naming is, you really have to trust the process

In our goal setting. We said, "What's the single thing we want people to think and feel, when they hear the name?" We wanted a name that implied a place to grow. That was very important to keep in mind. You kept drawing us back to that, Stephanie. By having that thought in your mind, that's how I think you end up with an inspirational name.

Stephanie: Sure. We were able to keep a focus, because it's so easy to become unfocused during a naming process.

Janet Schulz: Unfocused and let individual viewpoints dominate where it's not about us.

Stephanie: Yes.

Janet Schulz: It's about what we're trying to say, to the markets and how we're trying to differentiate ourselves.

Stephanie: Fantastic. One of the things that you've said throughout this process, and I love it, because you bring such great experience to this process is, it's messy. Naming is messy. In fact, if it wasn't messy, we'd probably be doing it wrong. Talk about what you mean when you say it's messy and what that looks like?

Janet Schulz: Well, part of the messiness is what I just referenced. That is that, people bring emotion to it. The thing is, you want that emotion.

It means people really care about the outcome. If people were feeling blasé about it, that's not good. The messiness is healthy. That's something that you really have to remember. The messiness means, you have to figure out how you're going to, not allow the quick rule in, rule out. When people are advocating for a given name, say, "Tell me more. What is it about that name that really is speaking to you?"

It's those, tell me mores, that I think ultimately end up helping a team, kind of till the soil and find the name that really is going to take root. It's a fascinating thing in the messiness. Again, I've only experienced this twice. There comes a time when you start to gel around a name, where you can just see people start to feel a couple things. They start to feel fit. They start to see possibility. The best names will bring that inspiration.

Stephanie: Excellent. One of the things I appreciated about our process was the team that was surrounding this name. I'm actually proud to say that Core didn't come up with the final name, which is, yet to be disclosed. We'll find out soon. That actually came from someone on your executive team. I think the interesting thing about this, though is that it requires a team. While someone on your executive team may have come up with it, it was the process that got us there.

We say here, that good ideas can come from anywhere. They certainly do. In this case, that's certainly what happened as well. We were there as supports, all of us who didn't come up with the name, to help guide that process. I think that's part of the messiness. There doesn't have to be, there is nothing set in stone that says, "Agency must come up with name." Your agency, should guide you in that direction.

Janet Schulz: That's right. We played quite a game of volleyball in this most recent experience we had, in coming up with the new name for ORP. That's okay. I think that, again, starting with the creative brief was very important. Continuously refocusing ourselves, on a place to grow, was very important. Really allowing people to feel passionate and the patient about the name. We had a sense of urgency, still have a sense of urgency about the pace at which we want to use our new name, and the reasons that we want a new name. We wanted to get it right. That's the other thing about naming, that makes it so passionate and messy, is that ideally a new name only comes around every 20, 30, 40 years, if even that.

Stephanie: Yes.

Janet Schulz: If you want a name that's sticky, you have to be willing to invest in the input, and the messiness up front.

Stephanie: You talked and you've touched on patients a little bit. Talk about what that looks like, what that means, what you had to do within your own organization to say, "Let's just give it a little more time, and this is why we need to give it a little more time."

Janet Schulz: I think the patience is one where, you have to strike that balance, between the sense of urgency, and that sense of the pulse check. Where I said before, that people feel fit and possibility and inspiration. You have to decide for your organization, what do those signals look like for your team and your executives? Every organization is different, and reaches decisions differently.

You have to understand, if the signals you're getting from your team are, "This is good enough," or, "This is great." I just happened to be one of those people that believes, for something like naming, you want this, is great. You don't want, this is good enough. Be quite clear about the patience it takes, the probing it takes, really the gut checks. If your team is given the openness to really be honest about how they're feeling about the name, the iterative process will lead you to a better place.

Stephanie: Excellent, excellent advice. How did you know that the name that you landed on, was it?

Janet Schulz: I have to reflect on that a little bit. Well, what we did, in partnership with Core, is we actually landed on, about three or four names that could possibly be it, and with your support, really came up with the, "Here's the idea. Here's why it works." I think it was ultimately number one, just visceral reaction of people. We did a Survey Monkey, and got input from leaders.

The name that we ultimately chose was not like pace setter difference from the second name, but had enough, more passion about it, more possibility, in terms of being able to tell stories from the name, have the name mean something both from the point of view of recruiting, individuals to come and work for the organization, but also for our ultimate external marketing in terms of clients and students. The name we've landed on is one that works well for both, what we are calling internal and external purposes.

Stephanie: Excellent. That is the next step, is really rolling this out. What advice do you have, specifically to healthcare organizations, who may be embarking on a name change today?

Janet Schulz: I would say, ask yourself this question. As a matter of fact, we just had a board meeting today, where we were reviewing our name possibility with our board, before we go more public with it. Our CEO even in front of the board said, "Let's recap again, the why." I would say that, a name change can sound fun, and exciting, and exhilarating. If you're going to do it well, you need to start with why.

You need to be able to articulate that it isn't just a name change for the sake of a name change. That will be a very expensive, messy and probably not as successful process. Really think about what's driving the name change, and if you can't clearly articulate that, then probably best to hit the pause button for a little while.

Stephanie: Excellent advice. What was ORP's why, when you entered into this name change process?

Janet Schulz: Our why was that, we really feel a need to differentiate ourselves, and speak differently to those that we want to attract. We did not feel that our current name ORP, does anything to really differentiate or describe the incredible work that we do. That's why we embarked on the journey.

Stephanie: Let's end on this question. If you are providing advice to a health system today, who is about to go through that name change process, what are three things you would recommend they keep in mind?

Janet Schulz: Well, I already mentioned, know your why and think ahead about who should be involved in the process. And then, focus on what you want the name to say about you. That kind of wraps into the why a bit, but it is a distinct question. Why do you want to change your name? Who should be involved in the process? What do you want the name to say about you? And then, from that point on, be ready to listen more than you talk. You'll end up with a good name.

Stephanie: Great advice. Thank you Janet. Janet Shultz, ORP Management. Pleasure to have you here today.

Janet Schulz: Thank you.


Stephanie Burton, APR is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Health.

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