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CHEO: Building a shared brand purpose for a successful amalgamation


When the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC) announced they were amalgamating, it was welcome news for the parents of children with complex medical needs, who are often patients of both institutions. The merger meant more collaboration, easier care plans, and the growth of services.

Attaining that “one door” patient experience, however, required quickly rallying two distinctly different work cultures into one cohesive team. CHEO was a hospital focused on critical care; the OCTC was focused on long-term rehabilitation. There was a need for a common purpose all staff could be passionate about, and would speak directly to the hopes of families.

Stakeholder engagement and research revealed a valuable insight: the community strongly believed both CHEO and OCTC had a direct, positive impact on the lives of children and families, and that the new joined entity would give every child a better life. That insight tied the two cultures together with a shared purpose and vision that resonated in the promise: “The best life for every child and youth.” The hashtag #bestlife became the rallying call for all stakeholders, and anchored a full brand framework, architecture and brand story to support and inform strategic planning, decisions and actions.

The research also revealed the depth of the community’s love for CHEO and high awareness rates of the brand. To build on this valuable brand equity, the new amalgamated entity retained the name CHEO, with a simplified and modernized wordmark that captured the innocent charm of the original.


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